Supporting Your Job Search With Self-Managed Credentials: A Step-by-Step Guide for Teachers

What are credentials?

A credential is a letter of recommendation that attests to your professional training and experience.  Credentials are typically expected as a part of the process for individuals seeking employment in education settings.  A credential file is a collection of those letters, along with a cover sheet containing your current address and certification information. An academic transcript may also be included in the file if desired. 

Where do I get a transcript?

If you are a current student, you can download an unofficial copy on the Registrar's website at any time.  Go to the BVU Registar site and click on Campus Connect, enter your ID and pin #, when your transcript comes up, press print.  This is an unofficial copy.

If your employer is requesting an OFFICIAL transcript, then you may request it from the Registrar's Office.  For help or more information about transcripts, phone the Registrar at 800.383.2821, ext. 2233. There is a $6 charge for sending 1 transcript, $3 for each additional transcript.

If you are an alum and you need a transcript, request an original from the Registrar; you may then make copies of it.

What are self-managed credentials?

A self-managed credential file consists of signed letters of recommendation that are collected, maintained, administered, and sent by you directly to prospective employers.

Credentials are a collection of documents used by employers to help them decide which candidates to interview or hire.  Your BVU self-managed credential file should include the following documents: 

  1. Cover Page data sheet - name and contact information, major, certifications, endorsements, colleges attended, graduation date. Open and save this new cover sheet to your hard drive, fill in the appropriate information, and print. 
  2. Unofficial copy of your Buena Vista University transcript, if desired.
  3. Letters of recommendation.

How are credentials different from a resume?

A resume is a concise summary of your qualifications and experience designed to introduce you and to apply for a specific job. You send a cover letter and resume to initiate formal contact with an employer.  Credentials are supportive documentation, primarily letters of reference, and if desired, an academic transcript.

Credentials and transcripts - are they the same thing?

No.  A transcript is your academic record only and originates with the Registrar's Office. 

An official transcript is a record of your BVU coursework and grades, generated by the Registrar's Office on security paper that contains an official seal of the college. It is sent directly to an employer, and you have not had access to it.  Please note: if you have taken coursework at another institution, your employer may require official transcripts from each college or university.

An unofficial transcript is one that has been

  1. issued to you directly from the Registrar (stamped "Issued to Student"), or
  2. photocopied from the official original, or
  3. downloaded and printed from the Campus Connect website.

An employer usually will accept an unofficial transcript when included in your credential file.  If you are offered employment, you may be asked to furnish an official transcript, and that has to be requested from the Registrar's Office directly. If you are unsure whether an unofficial transcript will be accepted with your application materials, read their application instructions carefully and contact the school for clarification.

Who should write references?  How many should I get? 

Professors in your major, practicum and internship supervisors, coaches, and past employers are all good choices.  For education majors, be sure you have your cooperating teacher(s) - considered essential - and your student teaching faculty supervisor. 

Three to five is sufficient. Remember you are sending this file to very busy people who don't have time to read a lot of references on one individual. Keep your recommendation letters current.  As you continue in your profession and change work assignments or jobs, letters older than two or three years need to be discarded and replaced with new ones from professionals who are familiar with your current level of skill.

How do I obtain reference letters?

Request them directly from the writer.  We also suggest the following:

How and when do employers receive my self-managed credential file?

You, as applicant, are responsible for supplying your credentials when requested by the employer.  Typically this occurs during the application process. It is important to follow whatever process the employer indicates in the job posting. When in doubt as to what they want and when, call them.

All application materials should be placed together and sent in a 9x12 mailing envelope.  Address labels should be typed.  Keep a record of where and when you have sent your application materials. 

What does a complete self-managed file look like?

A complete self-managed file includes a cover sheet and 3 - 5 letters of recommendation.  It may also include an unofficial transcript.

What does a complete application look like?

A typical education position will require the following:

  • For the writer's convenience, give them a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • After you have received the letter, send them a thank you letter.
  • Reference writers may prefer to write their reference on their organization's letterhead, OR they can use the form at the BVU Career Services website: Recommendation Form.  
  • Always retain the original reference letter and send only photocopies to employers.
  • Do not use letters older than 3-4 years in your job search.  Employers simply will discount them.

Should I mail all of the above in one envelope?

Yes. Many school districts actually prefer this.  

What if the advertisement asks for "official" credentials?

You send your self-managed set. If any employer has questions or concerns about self-managed credentials, or is unfamiliar with the term, refer them to BVU Career Services web page.  A detailed information sheet and contact information are available on the Employers link.  To assist, you may wish to "copy and paste" information from that link and forward it to your prospective employer.

School administrators can sometimes confuse the term credentials and transcripts.  If in doubt about what they are asking for, contact the school for clarification.