It can be difficult to keep track of your job search details these days with the use of job boards, social media, online advertisements, and recruiter calls. However, it’s imperative that you come up with a system that works for you to keep track of companies you have applied for, Managers you’ve interviewed with and locations on the internet you have posted your resume. Inconsistencies in these areas can cost you your next job.
Here are some brief tips that can help you stay organized:
1. Create a “spreadsheet of opportunities”
Head to Google Drive or Excel to organize every job you’ve ever wanted, heard of or applied for. Be sure to include even those companies where you’ve only dreamed of working. I organized mine by Company, Position, Contacts, Job Application Link, Date of Application, Notes and Status.
Update your spreadsheet daily. It will help you keep track of when to follow up, where you might need to make a new contact and what homework you need to do to prepare for the next interview stages.
This also comes in handy if you’re on unemployment. Having all this information in one place is a great reference guide when you need to prove you’re actively looking for work.
2. Save answers to application questions
Job applications are significantly more complicated than they were just a few years ago.
Many applications now ask specific questions about a project you’re most proud of or require a list of your most useful skills. Instead of just typing this directly into an online form, store those answers (proofread and spell-checked, of course) in a Job Hunt folder in Evernote.
For your next pesky phone screening, keep these questions open during the call so you can quickly reference your best answers. The more you do this, the more comfortable you’ll get answering these questions. (I’ve memorized most of mine by now, which is a bonus since I began to sound really articulate during those calls.)
Evernote also has great a great tagging system, so it’s easy for find responses pertaining to skills or project results when answering new questions on the fly.
3. Save your cover letter templates
Though you should submit a customized cover letter for every job, it’s OK to start from a template. Each template should include your favorite accomplishments relevant to the role you want. This makes applying for jobs the right way easy as pie.
Save your cover letter templates and a PDF of your resume to Dropbox so you can access them from anywhere on any device. So if you meet a lead for coffee and the conversation goes well, you can send your resume right there.
While my title has pretty consistently been “Social Media Manager,” that can mean different things to different people. Instead of limiting myself to roles with the same title, I applied to content strategy and community management jobs as well as more traditional marketing positions. When I sat down to write a cover letter for a position, it was helpful to have a few different templates to start from.
4. Become best friends with your calendar
Randomly applying for jobs will not get you hired. My biggest successes have always come from meeting people in person.
Whether it’s at a formal networking event or meeting a friend of a friend at Starbucks, talking to humans always trumps applying online. Regularly talk to people who love their jobs. Buy them coffee in exchange for picking their brains about work, projects and valuable skills.
This means you need to invest time in organizing your calendar. And don’t forget to pencil in valuable Parks and Recreation time so you don’t go crazy — there is such a thing as too much networking.
Set a schedule for what you will do each day: Who you’ll reach out to, what jobs you’ll apply for and what action steps you can take. With an organized calendar, your job hunt will feel purposeful and productive instead of listless and hopeless.