Before applying for a position in the human resource field, an applicant should have a portfolio with a cover letter, resume, reference list and work samples. Applicants do not generally bring a tangible portfolio to interviews. Portfolio items are often sent electronically, by mail, or delivered in person. Applicants should keep a portfolio filed at home for personal use.
A strong resume should be one to two pages and include contact information, skills, work experience and education or certifications. Contact information should be current and located on the top of the page, and should be larger than 12-point font but smaller than 20. Contact information should also be in an easy to read font like Times New Roman or Courier. Skills might relate to training development, compensation, employee relations, labor relations, organizational development or payroll. Work experience should be specific to the applicant's experiences. Specify what happened as a result of your efforts such as increased productivity. List all of your degrees and relevant certifications.
According to Christopher Clark, the HR Operations Manager for Mozy, an online backup service company, cover letters tend to be optional today. High unemployment means that employers do not have time to read extra information; though many employers still require a cover letter. Note the application requirements that usually go along with the job posting to determine whether you need to send a cover letter. Clark says that an applicant's cover letter is usually the first contact email. A good cover letter should succinctly describe an applicant's skills and intent. Aim for three sentences and no more than two paragraphs.
References are often required during the initial application process for HR government jobs. Public industry employers hiring for HR positions often do not require references. Some employers request references during the final decision. If an applicant is receiving interviews but not getting hired, then the applicant should recheck his references. Do not include references with the resume unless the employer requests a list.
When work samples are requested by an employer or seem relevant to showcase skills, an applicant should provide links to websites with work samples such as PowerPoint presentations, class projects, training materials, marketing designs, learning and development materials or succession planning documents. Not all employers will want to see a work sample when hiring for HR personnel. But, be prepared to showcase accomplishments and projects if asked.