Any job search that takes longer than a couple of weeks will require some amount of organization. Just tracking the jobs you might be interested in applying for, the organizations that are likely to have jobs you might want, the people you’ve reached out to for networking, and the jos you’ve actually applied to is no mean feat.
Additionally, without some organizational system, you are likely to lose track of the job descriptions you’ve applied to and the resumes and cover letters you’ve sent to employers. Job descriptions have a nasty tendancy to vanish from the internet just as you are being called for an interview. And there’s no better single source of information to help you prep for an interview than the job description.
There are many ways you could go about setting up your job search organizational system; you could be old-school and keep printed folders of jobs you’ve applied for and resumes you’ve used; you could use a notebook or even index cards; but I recommend a few other more high-tech options:
1. Create a Google Document Spreadsheet to track your search. It should have several columns across the top: Job title, Organization, Source (how you heard about the job), date applied, follow-up, networking contact, and status. These columns will track the jobs you’ve actively applied to. Status will have several possible categories:
- applied, but not selected; (i.e. rejected outright without an interview)
- interviewed (first round/phone screen);
- interviewed (second round or finalist)
- references checked
- offered but declined
- offered and accepted (of course, once you have this status, you are done using this spreadsheet for a while!)
The advantage of Google docs is that you can access this information from any computer. If you have a career coach, they can even look at the file too. You can also keep track of your success rate–how many interviews per application are you getting, and for which kinds of jobs? Are you getting a lot of declines for certain jobs, indicating you need a new resume, or perhaps are applying for jobs you’re not competitive for? Are you getting a lot of interviews but no second rounds? Are you declining a lot of offers, potentially because your expectations (for salary or other factors) are unrealistic?
2. Create several other spreadsheets, to track jobs you plan on applying for but haven’t yet; networking contacts you’ve reached out to and any follow-up notes; certifications you might pursue; organizations you might need to join; and websites you should check on a regular basis.
3. In your computer, create a folder called Job Search. Then create a sub-folder for each job you apply for, and copy and paste a Word file of each job description in the sub-folder, as well as the resume and cover letter you submitted; and, if you get an interview, any further research information you have found (news articles, the 990 tax return for nonprofits that you downloaded from Guidestar.org, etc., notes from informational interviews or real interviews).
4. There are a few other options for organizing your search if you want to get fancier. If you have access to a contact management database like Act! or Salesforce, it should work for your search. Or, you can use JibberJobber.com, a site specifically for job seekers wishing to get their search organized.