No matter how much the environmentalists try to get us to go green, one thing’s still unavoidable.  Every job, no matter the field, requires you to complete some sort of paperwork during the application process.   Yes, it’s a pain in the rear, but there’s very little we can do about it.  Even though a big portion of this stuff has gone digital, like using an online application form or sending your resume in by email, you’re still going to find yourself in serious danger of suffering a papercut from making copies of all your documentation.  At some point during the hiring process, recruiters are going to need to see your military records, personal identification, and professional training certificates.  And no matter how squared away you are, no matter how many times you dot the Is and cross the Ts, one thing’s for certain:

Your stuff’s going to get lost.

Sometimes it’s funny, like the time one of my employees mixed up the blocks on the Fedex shipping label and overnighted his complete new hire package back to himself.  Sometimes it’s frustrating, like the times when you have to fax your EQIP signature pages fifteen separate times because the jackass on the other end of the line keeps putting them in the shred pile by accident.  Given the right circumstances, paperwork mishaps can cost you your chance at employment.  If you don’t have your paperwork in order when that deployment date comes around, no matter who’s to blame, you’re probably going to be out of luck and more importantly, out of work.  Your company might be gracious enough to keep you in the candidate pool for the next deployment group, if there’s one scheduled, but they’re certainly not obligated to.

But don’t let these headaches get you down.  Expect paperwork glitches to happen, and view them as just another opportunity for you to shine by showing off your reliability.  Let’s say for example that your recruiter asks you to burn a photocopy of your driver’s license, passport, or DD214.  As long at you’re at the Kinko’s, go ahead and make a few extras.  When you send one off, keep a backup copy in your files at home.  Eventually, you should be keeping backup photocopies of all of your supporting documentation at the ready, because it’s a given that someone will ask for it AGAIN.  I’ve always tried to keep a file folder with copies of my personal information with me when I was deployed.  Also, make sure to maintain a backup set somewhere safe at home, where a friend could get hold of them if needed.  If you don’t have a secure storage spot at home, check with your bank to see if they offer safe deposit boxes. 

So that’s the basics:  Make, then keep, backup copies of everything.  Taking it to the next level, I recommend spending a few hours scanning your important stuff into .PDF or .JPG files, then saving them to a couple of thumb drives.  This way, you can respond instantly to those last minute data requests.  I prefer this method because it cuts down on the amount of crap that you have to carry around.  With even a 2 or 4 GB flash drive, you should have enough memory space to store all of your personal info., as well as all of your signed contracts and other employment paperwork.  Just be certain to keep those thumb drives safe, to avoid becoming a target for identity theft!  Carrying it in your passport case is best, and make sure to keep a backup safely stored at home.

Let’s face it, paperwork sucks, but it’s going to be part of the hiring process for any job.  Keep your documentation squared away, and you’ll make it a whole lot less painful, for both you and your recruiter.