Over the past 10 years significant changes in the teacher recruitment and the hiring process have occurred. Employers throughout Iowa and the nation have developed web sites that post positions and encourage candidates to apply on-line and submit application materials electronically. A shift away from college/university “job placement centers” to development/ management centers has occurred. Today, the focus is to educate the students in terms of developing the skills to manage their careers beyond college. Self-managing credential files place the job search process wholly in the candidates’ hands, thus allowing for full responsibility. Self-managed files are also more responsive and more practical due to the significant changes in technology in recent years.

Developing the skills necessary for managing one’s career includes the collection, management and submission of materials necessary for obtaining employment. Many larger school districts have gone to a “paperless office” and conduct mandatory phone reference checks. One important result of these changes is a nationwide movement toward self-managed or candidate-managed credential files for education candidates. The Cornell College Education Department agrees with the credential file policy changes being made elsewhere and seeks to institute self-managed credential files for graduates beginning with the Class of 2009. The Education Department will help education majors and alumni create their self-managed employment packet.  A self-managed credential packet is a collection of documents used by employers to help them decide which candidates to interview or hire.  An employment packet consists of a cover letter, resume, credential file and other documentation requested by the district.

A candidate for a teaching position sends a self-managed employment packet  to prospective employers.  A self-managed  packet  is complete as all materials are delivered in one packet thereby minimizing application materials being misfiled or lost.  The self-managed employment packet consists of your cover letter, resume and credential file.

 Your Cornell College self-managed credential file should include:

  • Cover Page
  • Personal Data Sheet (for beginning teachers only) or Graduate Personal Data Sheet  with name, address, major, endorsements, college attended, graduation date, etc.
  • Letters of recommendation (3-5)
  • Academic transcript – a student-issued transcript may be obtained from the Registrar's Office
  • A candidate may also wish to include a copy of her/his teaching certificate or certificate number.


Beginning with the Class of 2009, graduates will follow the step-by-step guide to create a self-managed employment packet.

Classes 2008-2000 will be required to change to self-management. As you request a credential file be sent out, the Education Department will honor your request and at the same time  return your original file to you if the credential file has been updated within the past four years.  The information for changing to a self managed credential file is on this website.   Since letters of recommendation more than four years old have very little value to an employer, The Education Department encourages you to create an up-to-date self-managed credential file.

Classes prior to 2000 : If you have an open (non-confidential) file you will be required to change to self-management. If you have a closed (confidential) file you will continue to receive our services as before if the file has been kept current.  Beginning the fall of 2012, all credentials are required to be self-managed.  Since letters of recommendation more than four years old have very little value to an employer, the Education Department encourages you to create and maintain an up-to-date/current self-managed credential file.


The Education Department notified all Cornell College education graduates via the Cornell Report, as well as explained our new policy to those alumni who made a credential request. All necessary information is posted on this website.

Personal Data

The Undergraduate Personal Data Form (for beginning teachers only) or the Graduate Personal Data Form should be filled out, printed off and be the first sheet after the cover page in your self-managed credential file.  

Letters of Recommendation

Be aware that most school districts will ask for at least 3 letters of recommendation. While it is fine to have more, it may be best to limit your reference letters to 5, which will be adequate for the majority of employers. You should personally make the request for a recommendation. It is appropriate to suggest to the letter writer any particular personal strengths you wish to have emphasized. The letter of recommendation should be TYPED on school/business letterhead as the recommendation will be photocopied for mailings.  If the letter of recommendation needs to be mailed to you, include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the person writing the letter of recommendation.  When the letter of recommendation is received, send a thank  you letter to the writer. 

    • Cooperating Teacher(s) - considered essential for beginning teachers
    • Student Teacher Supervising Professor(s) - considered essential for beginning teachers
    • Faculty members in the education department and/or the department of your subject area - considered essential for beginning teachers
    • Principals who have observed you teaching
    • Other teachers who have observed you teaching
    • Employers and others who can comment on your skills, qualifications, experience and potential as a new teacher.
    • Cover letter
    • Resume
    • Credential file
    • A copy of your transcript
    • A copy of your teaching certificate or certificate number if you wish to do so

Think carefully about the people you ask to write a letter of recommendation. People to ask to write letters of recommendation are:


Teaching candidates are encouraged to request an official transcript from the Registrar's Office in March and again upon graduation. This will save you, the candidate, time and money when applying for teaching positions.  Click on Registrar to order an official transcript. 


The Education Department will prepare a mailing/emailing to all Iowa school districts, notifying them of this change. Since Cornell College is not the first college in Iowa to institute self-managed credentials, no objections from school personnel are anticipated. However, the Education Department will be prepared to take calls to clarify this new policy with any employer who has not yet encountered self-managed credentials.

Cindy Postler
Director of Teacher Education
Cornell College
600 First Street SW
Mount Vernon, IA  52314-1098

ANTICIPATED QUESTIONS and Pertinent information for Education Majors and Alumni

What is a credential file? A credential file consists of a personal data sheet, 3-5 letters of recommendation that attest to your professional education and experience, and a copy of your official transcript.  You may wish to include a copy of your license or your license number.

What is a self-managed employment packet?

A self-managed employment packet is collected, maintained, administered and sent by you directly to prospective employers. A employment packet consists of a cover letter, resume, credential file and other documentation requested by the school district.

An employment packet is a collection of documents used by employers to help them decide which candidates to interview or hire.  Your self-managed employment packet should include:

 What should the letter of recommendation look like?

The letter should be typed or computer generated—nothing handwritten. The person writing the letter of recommendation should limit her/his comments to one page.  The writer should use the school or business letterhead, date the letter and include his/her signature and contact information.

How do I to obtain letters of recommendation?

You obtain the letters of recommendation by asking people  to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. For the writer’s convenience, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. After you have received the letter of recommendation, send the writer a thank you note.

How often should I update my recommendations?

Keep your letters of recommendation current.  It is strongly recommended that letters of recommendation be updated every 3-4 years. Letters older than 4 years need to be discarded and replaced with new ones from professionals who are familiar with your current level of skill.

Keep recommendations current by asking colleagues, principals and/or superintendents to write letters of recommendation.  Keeping your file current will eliminate last-minute scrambling for letters of recommendation when a teaching opportunity presents itself.

How do I create a credential file for an employer?

You should retain the original, signed letters of recommendation and official transcript.  The Cover Sheet,  photocopies of the personal data form,  photocopies of letters of recommendation and a copy of the official transcript are stapled together and sent directly to the prospective employer. You may request an official transcript from the Registrar.  Go to the Registrar's website to order a transcript.

An employer usually accepts an unofficial transcript (a photocopy) when included in your credential file. If you are offered employment you may be asked to furnish an official transcript, which may be requested directly from the Registrar’s Office. If you are unsure whether an unofficial transcript will be accepted with your application materials, read the application instructions carefully and. if necessary, contact the school district for clarification.

Do I have to request transcripts directly from the Registrar's Office?

Yes. You request the official transcript be sent to you.  Click on Registrar  to order an official copy of your transcript. 

Credentials - Transcripts are they the same thing?

No. A transcript is your academic record only and is obtained from the Registrar’s Office. A transcript lists Cornell College transfer credits, coursework, grades, class standing, and overall GPA. Your credentials consist of a cover page,  personal data sheet, 3-5 letters of recommendation that attests to your professional education and experience, a copy of your official transcript and other supportive documentation.

How are credentials different from a resume?

A resume is a one to two page concise summary of your qualifications and experiences designed to introduce you when applying for a specific job. Credentials are supportive documentation, primarily letters of reference,, an academic transcript and if required a copy of your license or your license number.

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

You are responsible for supplying your credential file 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 the district wants and when, call the district office.

All application materials (cover letter, resume, credential file, etc.) should be placed together in an envelope. Address labels should be typed. You are strongly encouraged to keep a record of where and when you have sent your application materials.

Will this self-managed system have an adverse effect on my chances for a teaching position?

 The Education Office does not anticipate anyone being denied a job opportunity from this new policy. The experience of other Iowa colleges/universities that have implemented this policy has been only positive. When Wartburg College changed to self-managed credentials, the Director of the Career Center sent a letter to all school superintendents in the State of Iowa, notifying them of the change. He received only one phone call from a superintendent, who asked for clarification. The experience at Drake University was the same – one phone call from one school employer. Once the new policy was explained, the employer was satisfied.

Before September 2008, the Cornell College Education Department will send out a mailing/emailing to all Iowa school districts explaining our new policy, which should alleviate any questions.

What will I do if a school district requests that a credential file come from Cornell College?

You will explain to the school official that Cornell College no longer maintains credential files, and that you have all the necessary materials in your possession. If this is not a sufficient explanation, you may refer the employer to Cornell College’s Education Department, or you may notify the Education Department and we will contact the employer on your behalf.

Will Career Services answer questions I have about credentials, resumes or finding jobs?

We want you be be successful in your job search.  For assistance with any aspect of the job search process, contact the Career and Civic Engagement Center

Where will I get the new self-managed credential information?

All necessary information and forms are posted on this webpage and the Director of Teacher Education also will answer questions.