As you move through your job search process, you are likely applying for many opportunities at the same time. Multiple applications often mean various versions of your resume and cover letters and many different deadlines to track. 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. As job search expert Alison Doyle points out (10 Easy Ways to Organize Your Job Search), organizing and managing your job search is just as important as identifying job opportunities and submitting your application.
In order to help you keep your job search on track, here are several tips and ideas from job search experts on how to manage the process:
Designate a clutter- and chaos-free, central location to work on your job search.
Whether you have a computer desk or use your kitchen table as a home office, the Tri-Valley Career Center recommends a specific place from which to work in order to be more productive (see Tips for Organizing Your Job Search). Try to keep this space free of mail, books and other clutter to avoid distraction and confusion. Alternatively, you can use the Career Center as a temporary space (call 925-560-9431 for more information).
Develop a system to organize your job search.
You’ll need a way to keep track of companies, positions applied for and the status of each application so that you can follow up with potential employers by phone or email, especially if you haven’t heard back from them. Career advice expert Margaret Buj (11 Surefire Ways to Organize Your Job Search) suggests creating a detailed spreadsheet to track all the relevant details of your job search, including companies, job titles, contact details, application dates, scheduled interview dates and the status of your application. If you’re more comfortable with online tools than spreadsheets, you can use Trello, a free online project management tool that allows you to automate your job search process. You can also use free online tools such as My Job Search Tracker from The Muse, Microsoft OneNote or Evernote to keep track of meetings, interviews and other key dates.
Create a schedule.
Start building your schedule by setting aside time for various job search activities. Advisers from job services organization Workopolis (The ultimate cheat sheet for organizing your job search) suggest at least two hours every day to fully focus on your job search. Find blocks of time within your schedule between chores, meetings and any other responsibilities you might have. Allot time to complete certain tasks, such as one hour to update and maintain your social media profiles (LinkedIn, etc.) and one to two hours to update your resume and create cover letter templates for different jobs. Look back on your day and week to evaluate the effectiveness of your schedule and make changes to blocks of time and activities as needed.
Fine-tune your schedule and allocate your time wisely.
Try to be realistic about what you can accomplish. A to-do list that is 100 items long will most likely be too daunting and challenging to tackle all at once. If you can’t get through all the items on your to-do list, break down the tasks into smaller increments, says job search strategist Hannah Morgan (How to Allocate Your Time Wisely). Try setting a timer and work in 45 to 60-minute intervals. Complete each task one at a time. Reward yourself with 5 to 10-minute breaks between tasks. As Ms. Morgan points out, you can’t control time, but you can manage how you use your time.
Create a target list of companies.
Create a list of companies that you are interested in and allot some time in your schedule to research them. Use LinkedIn or networking to find people who work at these organizations and hiring managers in departments that could use your skills, experience and knowledge. Try to set up informational interviews to learn more about the companies and develop contacts who know more about you and what you have to offer.
Simplify your search.
Making the effort to simplify your job search will help reduce the mental overload and help you stay focused and organized. Consider quality rather than quantity of job applications, and only apply for positions for which you are qualified and that match your skills or experience. Aimlessly applying for every job opening you find can waste your time and energy and lead to a disorganized job search process.
You may find yourself feeling discouraged or overwhelmed at times during your job search, but keeping the process organized and on track can help make your job search more effective and successful.