Keeping organized during your job search is essential. You should keep track of every job for which you've applied or interviewed. Proper organization will help to manage the appropriate steps for a follow-up and will come in handy in the future. You should also track possible opportunities and companies that interest you, even if there isn't a posted job requisition. This will help you stay on top of your job hunt and avoid applying for the same job more than once.
Organization can also help if you work with a third-party recruiter. When she presents you with an opportunity that sounds familiar, you can quickly give her the details of when you applied and the position for which you applied. Depending on those details, she can decide if she's able to represent you to the company and if so, you can work together to improve your application this time around.
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Option 1: Simple Spreadsheet
A simple spreadsheet could be all you need to stay organized. Start a spreadsheet that contains all the details for each prospective job:
- Date you applied
- Position for which you applied
- Action (Did you speak to a hiring manager? Have you emailed your resume or applied online?)
- Interview (date and details)
- Next steps (Do you need to send a thank you card? Follow up with a call?
Each time you apply, find a job opening that you want to come back to, or go on an interview, be sure to update your spreadsheet. You may want to organize it by tabs, with one for "Applied Positions," one for "Interested In," and one for "Interviewed." It's easy enough to move a row from one tab to another as you move through the application process.
Option 2: Tools Built into Job Search Sites
If you apply for a job through job boards, then you likely already have the ability to manage your applications online. Sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, and Climber track jobs you've applied for through their websites. You can look back and see the date you applied, and find out whether hiring for the job has closed, among other things.
The downside to using these tools is that you have to manage multiple profiles, and because companies often post the same job on multiple sites, you could easily miss the duplicates. Applying for the same position more than once doesn't improve your chances of being hired.
You're also restricted to what each site allows you to do. You might, for instance, want to take notes after an interview, but you might not have that functionality within the job site.
Your best option is to take the info from your profile on each of the sites you use and input it into your spreadsheet. That way you have a master file of all jobs for which you applied, but you also have easy access to your application history when you're browsing jobs directly on a job-seeking site.
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Option 3: Job Seeker Software
You can also pay for software to help you organize your search. Tools like CleverCareerist, JibberJobber, and Worksolver let you arrange your information on the jobs for which you’ve applied, as well as keep track of contacts you've made through your job hunt.
Some of the software lets you schedule calendar items, like interviews and follow-ups. This can be useful if you are scheduling multiple interviews and need to keep track of them all.
Software plans start around $9.95 a month (you can always cancel once you find a job), so be sure to factor the expense in to your job-hunt budget.
Whichever method you use, make it work for you. Make inputting your daily job-hunting activities part of your routine. The more organized you are, the easier you'll find the job search and managing the appropriate next steps.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.