You heard it here first: the gumbo file is the next big thing in your job search. A gumbo file is a combination of resumes and cover letters that are specifically tailored to each potential employer, making you appear like you’ve put that much more work into your job search.
What’s the point?
You can’t just send out the same resume and cover letter every time you apply for a job and expect to get hired. Employers are smart, and they know when people use templates or don’t pay close attention to who they’re sending their resume to. Your application may even be tossed in the garbage without a second glance because an employer thinks you’re not serious about the job if you have such a sloppy application process.
The purpose of having a gumbo file is to show that you’re willing to put extra effort into your job search by tailoring your materials to each company or position.
A Gumbo File is a file of your accomplishments, achievements and experiences. It’s sometimes referred to as a Valpak or folder. A gumbo file can be used in career fairs, interviews, or as a way to highlight your work experience, awards and accolades.
Tailor the gumbo file to the position you are seeking. For example, when applying for an administrative assistant position, include past resume examples and letters of recommendation that emphasize your administrative skills. When applying for a grant-writing position, include examples of grant proposals you have written and awards/recognition for writing ability.
When creating your gumbo file, be sure to include all of your accomplishments that are not on your resume. This includes awards, membership in organizations and proof of volunteer work. Make sure to include any information that may help you stand out from other applicants.
A gumbo file is a collection of materials that you find helpful in your job search that you can give to someone who might be able to help you get a job. A gumbo file is a complete package of information about yourself. It includes copies of letters of recommendation, samples of your writing and anything else that will help someone decide whether or not they want to hire you.
The word gumbo comes from Louisiana and is the name of a dish with many ingredients. In the same way, a gumbo file has many ingredients. The ones in my gumbo file have been collected over many years, starting when I was an undergraduate looking for work in the summer between my junior and senior years. I added to it every summer when I was looking for full-time employment or considering moving on to graduate school.
A gumbo file is provided at various points in an academic career: when you are applying for jobs after getting your bachelor’s degree; when you are applying for jobs after completing a graduate degree; when you are applying for jobs after finishing post-doctoral research; and finally when you are looking for your first full-time teaching or research position.
If you are looking for a job, you will be filling out applications. These applications ask for a lot of information. You need to provide the information requested in a way that the hiring manager can quickly review it and make a decision about you.
The easiest way to organize this information is in a gumbo file. A gumbo file is simply a document with the name of your targeted job at the top of the page, and then underneath all of the information requested on the application. This makes it easy for the hiring manager to review your qualifications because they are presented in one spot.
Your gumbo file should also include:
A cover letter addressed to whomever is making the hiring decision;
References and contact information for at least three people who know you professionally;
A description of your work history, including dates and titles (you know how it goes “from 2001-2002 I was an Assistant Manager at Blockbuster Video, Inc., and from 2002-2008 I managed several restaurants in town”;)
A list of awards, honors and special accomplishments;
A list of skills relevant to the job (communication, teamwork, problem solving, etc);
Any other special qualifications or unique characteristics that make you stand out from other applicants.
A gumbo file is a file where you put everything related to your job search. It’s not the same thing as an electronic resume, which is more like a summary of what you’ve done. A gumbo file includes anything that might be relevant, including:
1. Copies of your resume 2. Copies of any papers you wrote while in college 3. Copies of any papers or presentations you wrote in graduate school 4. Notes on classes or workshops you attended 5. Copies of recommendations 6. Your thesis 7. Information about the person or persons who will be writing your recommendations 8. Anything else that seems relevant
You want to include all this in one place so that if someone asks for something, you can just hand them a folder without having to look for anything.*
A gumbo file isn’t the same thing as a portfolio, although it could be used to create one. It’s just a collection of things you want to make sure are easy to find when needed.*
How do you build a gumbo file? The most important thing is to start early, because building a gumbo file takes time and there will always be other things competing for your attention. The best way to start is by collecting copies of everything as you get it–
The gumbo file is intended to help you display all your skills, experience, education and training in a way that will communicate quickly and clearly to the employer that you are qualified for the position. Your gumbo file should be a compilation of your background information, accomplishments, and professional experience.