When looking for a job, it’s not uncommon to be applying for numerous opportunities at once.
Multiple applications mean different versions of your resume, various cover letters and many different deadlines to keep track of. With so many moving parts, it’s easy to get lost in the details, but a disorganized job search can lead to embarrassing mistakes, such as lost phone numbers, confused deadlines and missed interviews.
The following are some tips to help you organize yourself so that you can be more successful in your job search:
Designate a clutter- and chaos-free, central location to work on your job search. The Tri-Valley Career Center recommends that you have a dedicated place from which to work to help you be more productive (see Tips for Organizing Your Job Search). Try to make this space free of books, bills, mail or general junk, all of which can be distracting, confusing and discouraging. Alternatively, you can use the Career Center in Dublin as your temporary space (call 925-560-9431 for more information).
Develop a system to track your job search. A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or Word table can be an effective way to keep a record of your job applications, resumes, letters and other activities involved in your search. It does not need to be complicated, but should include key information, such as:
- Company Name – The name of the organization you’re applying to.
- Position – Job title and description.
- Pay Rate – If the pay and benefits are given, otherwise express as “not listed” or “DOE” (Depending on Experience).
- Contact – Your point of contact at the company; probably who you addressed your cover letter to, such as a Director of Human Resources or Office Manager.
- Email – The email of your point of contact, or, if preferred, a phone number.
- Date Applied – When you submitted your application.
- Application Summary – What you submitted: a cover letter, resume and any additional materials, such as a portfolio, reference list, credentials, etc.
- Referral – If you found this position through networking, identify the name connecting you to the opportunity.
- Interview – When your interview is scheduled.
- Interviewers – Keep notes on the names of people who interviewed you, at each level.
- Follow-Up – Did you send a thank you email or letter? If so, indicate here.
- Status – If you were rejected, offered the job, asked in for a second interview, etc.
- Next steps – If there is something you need to do next, list it here with a date by which to get it done.
Online career platform The Muse has created a customizable and interactive job application tracker on Google Sheets. To learn more about this tracker and to download your free copy, see This Spreadsheet Is Exactly What You Need to Track Everything in Your Job Search.
There are many other options to help you keep track of your job applications and stay on top of the job search process (see 10 Easy Ways to Organize Your Job Search by job search expert Katie Doyle), including:
- Google Spreadsheets and Calendar. If you like to stay organized online, Google is a great way to go. If you have a Gmail account, you can use Google Drive, through which you can create, save and export spreadsheets, in addition to written documents, like your cover letter and resume.
- Job Search Management Tools. JibberJobber, which is probably the most well-known job search management tool, is a free resource that can help you manage, organize and track your job search, and help you follow up on applications and interviews.
- Mobile Apps. If you spend more time on your phone or tablet than you do on your computer, consider using a mobile app to organize your job search. Here’s a list of job search management apps available for smartphones.
- A Notebook. If you’re a pen-in-hand type who likes to keep it old school, buy a notebook and dedicate it to your job search. In addition to keeping track of your application, you can also use it to jot down a cover letter draft, take notes during interviews and record anything else that comes up while you’re looking for jobs, networking and interviewing.
Once you have established your job application tracking system, additional steps to help keep your search on track include:
Keep a schedule. Looking for work can be a full-time job, so it’s important to commit to a block of time every day to work on your job search. This can be at home, at the Career Center or out networking. Look back on the day and the week and evaluate the success of your schedule, making changes as needed to the time blocked and/or your job search activities.
Target 10-15 companies. Do you know where you want to work? Create a list of your dream companies and start researching them. Determine the types of jobs they have open. Find people who work at these organizations on LinkedIn or through networking. Find hiring managers in the departments that could use your skills, experience and knowledge. Set up informational interviews with them so they can get to know you, and you can learn more about the company, including open jobs that may not be advertised. You can also gather information that can help tailor your resume and cover letters.
Pace yourself. Try to remain calm during your job search. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all that you need to do. Concentrate on one thing at a time. Creating a timeline for your job search will give you focus, but don’t set unreasonable expectations. Landing a new job won’t happen overnight, and you don’t want to get burned out or overly frustrated. Intentionally and reasonably pacing yourself will help. It’s also important to take care of yourself physically and mentally — so strive to achieve some balance in your life.
Approaching your job search in an organized and focused way will help you manage the process and move you closer to landing your next job.