The search for a job is–usually–a long and arduous process. It requires patience, grit and, most importantly, a plan to organize your job search.
As your search goes on and the information you need to keep track of piles up, organization is key. This blog post will teach you how to effectively organize your job search. Read on to learn how you can avoid all the classic pitfalls of an unorganized candidate.
First, let’s explain why effective organization is so important. This includes how being disorganized and losing important information can hurt your chances at any job.
Why is job search organization such a big deal?
You can learn from your mistakes
As with any pursuit, when you have access to more information, you have more resources. More resources mean more tools at your disposal moving forward.
Application and interview processes are more than just an opportunity at a new job, they are also a learning experience.
Think about it. If you never learn from failed interviews, every fresh interview will be like your first.
BUT if you take notes, ask for feedback, and record the information you took in during the process, you can use that information in the future to improve your candidacy.
You can learn how to effectively spend your time
If you’ve been keeping close track of your applications, you will start to notice that your response rates are better for some specific positions than for others.
Take a look at the listings for which you’re having more success. You will notice similarities and patterns. This will give you a better idea of, specifically, which positions you’re most qualified for and what type of employers are looking for someone like you.
Using this continuously-refined information will help you focus your job search on the positions that you’re most likely to be seriously considered for. Refining your search in this manner will make your search more specific and, therefore, more efficient.
You can be prepared for interviews
The primary goal of job search organization is to be prepared for the interviews you schedule. Over the course of your search, you will likely apply to dozens or even hundreds of listings.
For each application, there is specific and pertinent information relevant to the listing. Having this information available and easy to access will greatly help you in the interview process.
So, make it easy on yourself. Organize the listing information from every place you’ve applied to. We’ll show you how below.
What if you get a call from a listing you applied for two months ago?
No problem! Go through your files and find the listing; it will be like you just applied yesterday!
5 steps to organize your job search
1. Organize your thoughts
Think about what opportunities you’re looking for.
Specifically, think about what your ideal job would be. Think about what kind of job you would be willing to take even if less than ideal.
Finally, think about what you have to offer. Here are a few good points to keep in mind when thinking this through:
- Your work experience
- Your skills
- Your education
- Your certifications
- Your personal career interests
Compare your professional strengths to your professional goals. Be ambitious and optimistic but don’t waste your time. Applying for jobs that are relevant to your skills will make your job search a lot smoother.
2. Update your resume
This should go without saying. Your resume is the centerpiece of your job search. It’s not only your first impression, it is the most effective tool for landing interviews.
Your resume should be a perfect, textual representation of your professional self.
Writing a great resume is incredibly difficult these days. With such a high volume of active job seekers, it’s more important than ever before.
The thing is, it’s also more complicated than ever before. Hiring managers no longer sort through each resume by hand. Most companies support their hiring process with an applicant tracking system.
These systems scan through large piles of resumes in very little time. They search for relevant keywords, headers, and a few other things. Unfortunately, if you don’t optimize your resume to pass these systems, chances are no one will ever see it.
Lucky for you, our blog has a ton of great posts that will help you improve your resume. A few helpful ones to get you started:
- How to get your resume past applicant tracking systems
- How to make your resume stand out
- Resume headers and sections
- How to use keywords on a resume
All these listed posts have our experts’ awesome tips for optimizing your resume to meet the demands of the modern job market.
In addition, we offer a free resume review. This will show you EXACTLY what employers see when they run your resume through an applicant tracking system. It’s a great and free place to start optimizing your resume.
3. Keep track of your progress
You need to track your progress so you can communicate and follow up effectively. Having all your application information organized and in one place will help greatly with this.
Keep a copy of each job listing you’ve applied for. Along with the listing, keep a copy of the resume you used to apply along with relevant contact information. Here are some ideas on how you can keep this information accessible:
- Save the resume and job listing in a .doc, and keep all your documents in a “Job Search” folder. Title your files with the company and position so you can search them easily.
- Print the documents out and staple them together.
- Use an online filing system with Google Suite, Evernote, or Microsoft 365 so you can access your files from anywhere.
- Take the opportunity to learn a new project management system online. There are plenty of free options, and you can gain relevant skills at the same time! For example, you could use Asana to make a Job Search project, sort your applications by time or position, and upload the job posting and that iteration of your resume to specific tasks.
If you’ve kept your information organized, following up will be a breeze. You will have all the information you need at your fingertips!
4. Manage your time and create a schedule
An effective job search should be like a workday. Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Set goals. For example, set aside three hours a day for your search. Or, apply to at least 30 jobs a week.
Setting goals will help you stick to an effective strategy. It will also help you maintain self-discipline.
Check out this article from Process St. on writing an effective checklist to organize your day!
5. Build your network
Networking is the most important part of every job search, but it is often overlooked. In fact, most people get their best job through networking.
Start by reaching out to people in the industry you’re interested in. Ask for business cards, and send cold emails to introduce yourself.
Asking for advice is a great place to start. People will feel good that you value their opinion and will often be happy to lend a hand.
Asking for suggestions on who you should talk to is a great way to expand your network from there. Target companies that spark your interest and try to get in touch with as many people as possible. LinkedIn is a great networking tool for this!
Organizing your job search effectively can be the difference between a new career and a year-long search. If you keep track of your progress, stick to a schedule, and make sure to network, you will be sitting pretty in a new position in no time!