1. Current Resume
I cannot stress the importance of the resume enough. In many cases, it is the only item an employer will see when deciding who to interview. Some agencies only send the resume to a client. Some employers only look at resumes. Make sure yours is up to date and has a professional look with no mistakes! You can hire a service if you are not good on the computer. Also, having a copy on disk is great for sending documents through email.
2. Letters of recommendation
Any time you leave a job you should get a letter of recommendation. Try to have them written on company letterhead or personal stationery of your employer. The more letters you have, the better. Be prepared to distribute copies that are as legible as possible. Even better, have color copies made of the most recent or most important letters.
3. Reference List
You will have to supply this information on any job application so have it ready on a separate page, laid out as follows: Employer name; who to contact for the reference; the contact's title; a current telephone number; and any notes about reaching the person. You may also request to be contacted directly for telephone numbers so you can tell your reference in advance who will be calling.
4. Current Photograph
Have a recent photograph of yourself ready to give out (color photocopies are a good idea) with an application. It should show your overall physical appearance and a nice touch is to be in the uniform of your profession. The extra step you can take here is to have the photo scanned and put on a disk to email to agents or employers.
5. ID Copies
Usually agencies will ask for your identifying documents upfront to verify you are who you say you are. This includes driver's license, social security card, passport, green card, work visa, etc. Be prepared by having a high quality black and white copy made for faxing and color copies for distribution.
6. List of Previous Addresses
To conduct background checks, employers or agencies will require a list of the county, city, state, and address of where you have lived over the past 10 years. Have this information available and typed out. Make copies.
7. Background Explanation
If there is anything derogatory at all that you know will show up on your driving record; credit history; criminal background; or any civil litigation cases, have a detailed explanation ready. When these checks are done on you, the reports come back with codes and sketchy details about the events that are difficult to interpret. Your willing discussion of the incident can make certain situations less incriminating as a candidate for employment.
As with any endeavor worth pursuing, the job search can be tedious and frustrating. Approach the task with a positive attitude and commit yourself to being ready for any obstacles along the way. Also "put your money where your mouth is" when creating your application materials. You may have to spend a few dollars to have a great looking resume package with clean, legible copies of all your documents (both black & white and color), but the payoff is far greater than the costs you will incur.
Also remember, there is no such thing as "luck." The word "luck" is just a description of what happens when preparation meets opportunity. So by preparing carefully and placing yourself in front of all the opportunities out there, you can be the "lucky" one who lands the perfect job.