As many of my readers know, I’ve been on the job search the last several months. I’ve come up with a short checklist of things to prepare as you head into the process.
Note that this is useful even if you’re not currently looking, but it may be more pressing when you are. Some of these can be digital, in the note-taking software of your choice (I lean toward Evernote), but a couple may be best in dead-tree form.
Also, with apologies to international readers, this is focused on United States concepts and constructs. Some of them may well apply outside the US, but I can’t say for sure. So I’ll bashfully hope you know your country better than I do.
And here we go.
- Note your precise work details. My resume has years only, for simplicity. But some application processes want the month, day, and year for start and end dates for some reason. The details I’d gather for each position (even if some are already on your resume) are:
- Company name, address, and (probably HR/validation) phone number
- Your official title as the employer is likely to give as your final work title. So, “Consulting Systems Engineer,” not “Big Data Storyteller” (unless your company was cooler than mine)
- The exact dates for your first and last day at the company
- First and last W2 or pay stub, in case you have to prove your start and end dates (this is helpful if the company has gone out of business, since verifiers can’t call Nortel anymore)
- For your own reference, your final compensation. In California and possibly other states, you can’t be required to give this information, but it might help you consider your requested range. (See below, and I am not a lawyer, for another fun note from this law.)
- A reference or two (name, title, email, phone number). Touch base with them in advance, if you haven’t already, to make sure they’re okay with giving an unofficial reference.
- Dates, programs, and degrees (if applicable) for any formal training or education, with contact info for those institutions (probably a registrar’s office contact).
- It might not hurt to stash a digital copy of your college diplomas and/or transcripts. Order them while you have plenty of time, just in case.
- Employers may not ask, but background checkers may ask for some number of years of residence history. Address and move-in/move-out dates should be enough. If you’re lucky enough to have lived the same place for a decade or more, this should be easy. Not all of us are so lucky.
- If you have contract work on your resume, have any documentation as to your title (if any) and start date (plus end date if applicable). A verification letter from the company you worked for can contain this information and the source’s contact information for verification.
- An I-9 form with the first page filled out. Some companies digitally capture these, and others may pre-fill page two, but it doesn’t hurt to have it in your first-day folio. Check the document lists and make sure you know where your qualifying documents are – for US citizens, a passport or passport card is the “easy button” here.
- Direct deposit information, including voided paper checks if possible. We are in [current year] and some people still want to see the MICR strip at the bottom of the check just in case.
- A W-4 and equivalent state tax withholding form. This could save you 20 minutes in the paperwork phase. Again, they may be captured electronically, but you can have the numbers ready and skip the worksheets.
- Emergency contact info, and beneficiary info for company life insurance if applicable
- The airspeed velocity of an unladen European swallow, in local units of measure
- Any professional references other than past managers. In some states and industries and niches, this may be more or less relevant.
So that wasn’t as short as I expected.
Did I forget anything? Have you needed any other esoteric or practical bits of information for the job hunt process and ensuing paperwork? Share in the comments if you don’t mind.
Here’s the California Labor Law details I’ve learned recently. I’m not a lawyer, so do your own diligence before acting on this.
As noted above, California law (California labor code section 432.3) forbids (prospective) employers from asking your compensation history, or using it to decide whether to hire you and what salary to offer. They can ask your expectations or your range.
You can provide compensation history voluntarily and unprompted, after which they can use the information to determine the salary for the position.
It also requires that an employer provide the pay scale for a position after your first interview with the employer. This might be the most useful part of the law.
In my experience, and that of some friends, recruiters will not admit to this information, although they’ll gladly ask you to volunteer your range. And at many companies, the hiring manager may not know the salary range (I didn’t when I was a hiring IT manager a decade ago). But the company is expected to provide the range upon reasonable request.
I’d be curious to hear from readers how other states’ labor laws may compare to this. Colorado, for example, requires (as of January 1, 2021) all job listings for companies with more than 1 employee to include salary, other compensation, and benefits details in the listing.