Q: What are some tips for staying organized during my job search?
A: Recruiters love this question because the more organized you are, the more effective your job search will be!
Tracking your activity will help you see what actions are most effective. It will also help you avoid being caught off guard and making mistakes. (There’s really nothing more awkward than an employer or recruiter calling a candidate who doesn’t remember applying for their job.)
To start getting organized, I recommend these steps:
Create an organized workspace – While it may seem great that you can apply for jobs on your phone while walking to work, it’s really not an organized way to do so. I recommend identifying a physical place where you can be productive in your job search. This place could be a home office, a place in the library, or a spot on the counter in your kitchen. It should have access to the basics, like a computer with Internet access, a printer to print your resume, a calendar or schedule, and a folder or file to keep important documents.
Make a commitment – Dedicate time each day or each week to your job search and stick to it. Many successful job seekers treat looking for a job as if it’s their job.
Set goals – It can be hard to stay motivated if you’re facing rejection or a slow search process. Setting and reaching goals can help you feel a sense of achievement and keep your momentum going. Achievable goals include scheduling in-person networking opportunities, researching new companies, submitting applications, etc.
Be strategic – Identify the top companies you’d like to work for and then research the opportunities at each. You can also research which recruiting firms work for those companies and when each will be holding job fairs.
Be image conscious – Your best efforts will come to naught if you don’t have an updated and optimized resume and if your online presence isn’t professional.
Track your efforts – Whether you use a notebook, a traditional spreadsheet, or a mobile app, it’s important to track your efforts. Many of the small steps that you take in your job search – e.g. following up, sending thank you notes or emails, connecting on LinkedIn – can become important factors in the hiring process. Your tracking efforts should include:
- the date you apply for the job
- the name of the position and the job number if there is one
- the name of the organization
- the application deadline
- a date to follow up
- the name of the recruiter and their contact information
- notes and reflections on the interview, including what questions were asked
- whether thank you note or email was sent
- strategies for networking, e.g. following on LinkedIn, meeting at an upcoming event
We created an easy-to-use template for tracking your job search efforts, which you can download by clicking on the image below:
There are also plenty of calendar and project management apps, like those offered by Trello, that can help you stay organized.
Gwendolen Knott is a Senior Group Manager on the Major Accounts Division at Professional Staffing Group. She manages four teams that work with a variety of clients within the higher education and healthcare industries.