Tips for Organizing your Job Search Information

By Yasmin Fisher & Eileen SilversteinTall Stack of Documents

Why organize your job search?

One reason: studies show organized people are more likely to achieve their goals, feel a sense of accomplishment, and are more content than those who let things pile up to the point where they can’t find what they’re looking for when they need it.

There’s no question organizing this kind of information is a monumental task. It’s time consuming to organize the names of all the companies where you’ve interviewed, the names of the Hiring Managers & Human Resource personnel you’ve met, their email addresses/phone numbers, job reference (or identification) numbers, etc.

Nevertheless, it’s a necessary chore if you want to refer to that information quickly and easily in the future. Here’s a quick “to do” list of how to organize your information.

  • Think about what’s most important to you, then, set goals. Be specific about interim objectives. Add time constraints. Write them down to hold yourself accountable. How many job interviews will you have had by the end of one, two, or three months’ time? How many new job leads can you find by networking with others?
  • Prioritize your tasks. Focus on those tasks with the highest value. Remember, time is your biggest commodity.
  • Each day, decide how many hours you can spend looking for work. Set your sites on companies/industries you are interested in and think twice about the value of going to a networking session, or meeting, that detracts from your real interests.
  • Find a dedicated workspace to conduct your job searches so you can eliminate, or at least minimize, distractions. Vow to turn off your mobile phone (or any other electronic devices) while you are in that workspace. Avoid all non-essentials activities until you’ve finished your daily job searches.
  • Use the appropriate tools to organize your job search. For example, with one click, you can use aggregators, like www.indeed.com, to search multiple job boards and niche websites that focus on your profession.
  • Keep track of your progress with applications like Huntsy.com, which lets you bookmark opportunities, directly from job boards, and organize them into a single dashboard.
  • Use a calendar program, like Google Calendar, to keep your schedule organized so you access it when you are on the go.
  • Use social media dashboards, like HootSuite.com, to identify, and monitor, important professional connections.
  • Develop a daily routine. Divide your day into manageable chunks so you can manage your time more effectively. When you wake up, check your email and scan social networks for job opportunities. Later in the morning, send follow-up notes and make phone calls. At lunch, research new opportunities. In the afternoons, schedule interviews. Reserve evenings for networking events.
  • After you return home from an interview, immediately write and mail thank you notes to the appropriate people.
  • When you need it, learn to ask family, friends, and acquaintances for help.
  • Be consistent and follow your plan, rather than stressing out about the details of your approach.
  • Don’t complain about your plight; instead, seek support from others around you.
  • Celebrate small victories and reward yourself for achieving milestones.
  • Most of all, stay optimistic and believe that you will find a job. One of the traits of organized people is that they are optimistic about achieving their goals, no matter how big or challenging.

Handling your job search when you’re in transition

If you are in transition, visit http://jobsearch.about.com/od/jobloss/tp/loseyourjobs.htm to determine whether you’ve covered all the bases regarding your job loss, termination, or layoff.

Free websites that help you organize your job search

There are many free web sites to help you organize your job search. One is www.jibberjobber.com/login.php. Jibber Jobber has some useful tools, including a Job Journal, an Expense Tracker, Interview Preparation, and pertinent job search articles. In addition to Jibber Jobber, you can visit www.job-hunt.org/job-search-tutorial/part-1-job-search-tutorial-getting-help.shtml to keep track of your job search information.

Streamlining your online job search method

If you are like most people, you’re continually going online and applying for multiple jobs. So, it’s important to keep track of your online job searches, too. Here are some tips for streamlining your online job search method.

  • Always use Microsoft (MS) Word to create your cover letters and résumés. Word is the application of choice for most employers.
  • Customize your résumé and cover letter for each position. To do that, save a generic template of your résumé, then save each customized version, separately. That way, if someone from a company calls you for an interview it will be easier for you to find the appropriate version of either file.
  • Keep current copies of your résumé, and a generic cover letter, in a separate electronic (and paper) folder so you can locate them quickly & easily.
  • Create several electronic versions of your résumé and cover letter. Store backups on your flash drive, Smartphone (if you have one), or external hard drive.
  • When you a filling out an online application at a company’s website, experts recommend you attach and upload your cover letter, and résumé, as separate Word documents, even if the site offers you the option of copying and pasting this information.
  • In addition to storing important job search documents (like your cover letter or résumé) on your hard drive, be sure to use web-based tools to keep and store any additional information online. That way, again, you can back up your files and maintain access via another computer or through your Smartphone, if you have one.
  • Set up an e-mail account that you can easily access through the web. Gmail and Yahoo are the two most popular, free, web-based sites for creating email accounts.
  • Visit job search sites daily. Some top sites include www.indeed.com, www.monster.com, and www.CareerBuilder.com. Within these sites, search for specific job titles, or general industries, you want to pursue. Monster and CareerBuilder also allow you to post your résumé directly on their site so employers can find it. Indeed.com includes postings from company web sites and job boards, in addition to providing useful information, such as salary averages and industry trends.
  • To find jobs you are interested in scan Craigslist.com the way you would scan the print version of a newspaper’s classified advertisement section. You’ll be sure to find some of the more unusual, offbeat jobs on Craigslist, if that’s what you’re looking for.
  • Use a job search site dedicated to posting job listings in your particular industry, or field of expertise. Niche sites are available for everyone from Day Care professionals (www.Care.com), to workers with security clearance (www.ClearedConnections.com).
  • If you are interested in working for a particular company, or in a certain field, go directly to the official website for that firm/organization. If you visit a company’s web site, be sure to fill out an online application form.
  • Many employers’ career pages invite visitors to fill out candidate profiles, allowing them to describe their background, jobs of interest, salary requirements, and other preferences. Therefore, it might be a good idea to peruse these pages when visiting each site.
  • When targeting a company you’re interested in, be sure to contact the Hiring Manager directly.
  • Use social media web sites, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, and Google+, to build your contacts or make new connections. Some professionals believe these sites are also great tools for finding a job. Just remember, when you are on one of these sites, keep it professional. Don’t post anything inappropriate.
  • Of these sites, LinkedIn.com is the most popular for professional networking. You can list your professional experience on your LinkedIn profile and ask your first level connections to introduce you to their connections and so on.
  • You can also post recommendations on your profile, and on the profiles of other LinkedIn users. To increase your presence on LinkedIn, participate in relevant discussions with your connections. Be aware that, when considering you for a job, potential employers may have already viewed your LinkedIn profile so make sure it’s up-to-date and doesn’t look sloppy.
  • You can also use social media web sites to follow certain companies. If a company posts updates on these sites, read them regularly. Becoming familiar with a company will give you leverage as you try to sell yourself to them if you should be granted an interview or get a chance talk to a Hiring Manager.

So, before you start your next job search step back and think about the big picture. What’s your plan of action? How will you stay organized?

Answering these questions will help set the tone for your job search. Moreover, it will help you determine your overall experience. Remember, without organization you job search could turn into a long, drawn-out, stressful process, with no definitive end. On the other hand, being well organized will provide you with a well-structured plan that will give you a sense of progress and increase your chances for success.

So, make the necessary time investment now so you can draw on the benefits later. Get organized and get employed!

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