Do you simply analyze every word and phrase and just hope for the best? That’s one option. But, if you want to take success into your own hands, consider creating a “leave behind” to ensure that your potential employer remembers the best about you.
A leave-behind should be a “mini-portfolio” that showcases your best work you can leave with your interviewer. Here are five tips about creating the perfect leave-behind:
Make a Cover Page
Your cover page should reflect the type of job you’re applying for. If it’s a design-oriented job, get creative! However, if it’s a more traditional job, you may want to stick to a clean-cut cover page. No matter what you choose, include your name and contact information. You may also want to mention the name of the company on the front as well.
Begin with Your Cover Letter and Resume
Include a personalized cover letter in your leave behind, introducing yourself to the interviewer and reiterating how you fit the position. This is a great time to list what it’s enclosed in your leave behind as well. (I’ve even used my cover letter as a cover page depending on the position.) Also, remember to include your resume so that the employer can easily reference it.
Chose Three to Five Pieces of Your Best Work
Your leave-behind should not be as comprehensive as your portfolio. Instead, choose three to five work samples that fit the position, and if necessary, include explanations for your samples. For example, if you include a screen shot of a blog post you wrote, provide two or three sentences explaining what the blog is about and how you contributed.
Provide References or a Recommendation Letter
Although this isn’t necessary, it may be wise to include a list of references with contact information and/or a recommendation letter that you want to show a potential employer. This makes it easy for an interviewer to what others say about you and saves them time of checking out each of your references.
Bind Your Leave Behind Professionally
As for binding your leave-behind, you have a lot of options! (However, avoid simply stapling or paper clipping your samples.) My favorite way to bind my leave behinds is using a poly clear presentation folder, which is relatively cheap and easy to find. If you have time (and a bit more money), go to an office supply store where they can use a binding spine to hold together your leave behind.
Bonus tip: Stock up on folders for your leave-behinds during August/early September when many places run back-to-school specials!
You have many opportunities to give your interviewer a leave-behind, depending on how you plan to use it throughout the interview. If you plan on referencing samples in your leave behind throughout the interview, hand it to your interviewer right after you introduce yourselves.
If you also brought a portfolio, you can hand over your leave-behind after you show your potential employer your portfolio pieces, or even save your leave behind for the end. Simply let your interviewer know what’s inside your leave-behind and invite them to look it over.
Take success into your own hands, create a leave-behind for each interview, and of course, don’t forget your follow-up “thank you” note!
About the Author: Abby is a senior mass communications and political science student at the University of Delaware, serving as president of her PRSSA Chapter, social media coordinator for a local organization, staff reporter for her campus newspaper, and an undergraduate researcher. In addition, she frequently tweets, and blogs at http://abbystollar.com.