10 Easy Ways to Organize Your Job Search
In today's job market, it's not uncommon to submit applications for many positions. That involves lots of time, and lots to keep track of. You don't want to squander those precious hours by missing important application deadlines, garbling companies and positions, confusing interview times, or forgetting to follow up.
Accordingly, properly managing your job search is just as important as identifying job opportunities and submitting your application.
Create a Job Application Spreadsheet in Excel
If you're familiar with Microsoft Excel or a similar program, creating a spreadsheet is a simple and effective way to keep track of your job applications.
It doesn't have to be fancy, and it's up to you how detailed you want to get. But, here are the key columns to include:
- Company Name - The name of the organization you're applying to.
- 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, like a portfolio or reference list.
- Interview - When your interview is scheduled.
- 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.
Create a Job Application Table in Word
If Excel isn't quite your cup of tea, don't fret. You can create a simple table in Microsoft Word or a similar word processor.
Just insert a table and choose the number of columns based on how many categories you want to keep track of (company name, contact information, date applied, and so on) and the number of rows relative to how many positions you're applying for.
In addition to the basic categories listed above, if you're feeling especially ambitious, here are some other points you might want to include:
- Application deadline
- Potential start date
- Where you found the job listing
- Company information, like its location, number of employees, size, recent developments, etc.
- Names and contact information of any network connections at the company
- Estimated likelihood of getting the job
- Your relative preference for the position compared to other jobs
Use 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. You can also link up with Google calendar to make sure you stay on top of important dates.
Use a Website
There are a variety of websites out there that offer free or reasonably priced job search management tools. JibberJobber is perhaps the most well-known option and is an excellent resource for staying organized. As CEO Jason Alba says:
"In my job search I didn't think I'd need a job search organizational tool, but as my job search went on, and I continued to network and apply for jobs, the need for a tool like JibberJobber grew exponentially - because the amount of data I was collecting grew exponentially! It's easy to get buried under the data and miss follow-up opportunities (or, like in my case, appointments)!"
Use an App
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.
Use a Widget
You can download a variety of job search organization widgets - from e-mail alerts to browser installations to blog and website features - that will help you stay on top of your job search.
Just be sure that you don't get overwhelmed, as you don't want to have to organize your job search organization tools. Identify your needs and priorities (Do you want to keep track of positions you're interested in applying to? Manage submitted applications? Get alerts about new openings, deadlines, or interview dates?) and go from there.
Use Your Job Search Site
Many job search sites like Monster, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn offer built-in tools to keep track of your applications. Although the downfall to using a site-specific method is that you may have to keep track of various lists on different sites, if you have a favorite job search site you're sticking to, it's not a bad option.
Use Your Smart Phone
For a do-it-yourself method of organization, consider using your smart phone "as is" - for example, use your notes or download a spreadsheet app and keep track of your information there. You can also use alarms, alerts and your calendar to stay on top of impending deadlines, interviews, and other important dates and times.
Use 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.
Simplify Your Search
Clearly, there are plenty of ways to keep track of your job search, but there are also ways to cut down on the mental overhead to begin with. Making the effort to simplify your job search will pay off. Focus on quality, not quantity: only apply to legitimate positions that you're qualified for, and make each application count, personalizing each cover letter and updating and proofreading your resume.