Searching for a new job is hard. There’s the massive amount of work involved in researching jobs, networking, applying and interviewing, along with the continuous rejection. If you’re not organized, this roller coaster process can be twice as difficult.
In the craziness of applying for jobs, it’s easy to forget things. You might ask yourself, “What was that job I applied for last month that I was so excited about and now I can’t find the application?” or “Who was that person that wanted to help me and what was that organization they said I should look into? What did I say in that sales cover letter that also applies for this job?”
Keep track of all companies and applications
You’ve likely applied to dozens of companies, and it’s difficult to remember the details about each of them. The easiest way to stay organized is to track every company and application in a spreadsheet. I started doing this after a friend showed me her spreadsheet, and it’s made my job search ten times easier.
You can track whatever information you think is relevant, but here are some suggestions to include, each as their own column:
- Company Name
- Application Status
- Job Title
- Application Deadline
- Application Submitted Date
- Contact at Company with Name, Title, and Email
- Informational session date
While a spreadsheet is great for tracking all the details and checking for updates (for example, you can track when you last contacted the company so you can send a follow-up email), you also have a lot of information in your inbox. Make sure you create a label or folder specifically for all job-search related emails.
Document all meeting notes
Hopefully you’ve had plenty of networking meetings and informational sessions. During these meetings you should jot down a few notes during or after every one and keep all of the notes in one place.
One great tool to keep these notes is not place is Evernote, an app for both desktop and mobile users that allows you to effectively go paperless and ditch notebooks by directly typing your notes into the app or by scanning them in. Then, when you’re writing cover letters, you can search your notes in Evernote to find keywords and company-specific reasons why you’re interested in the position — all without the need to frantically comb through hand-written notes.
You could also use this great coffee log idea.
Remember everyone you spoke with
Evernote and spreadsheets are great for keeping track of everyone you’ve networked with or want to meet. LinkedIn also allows you to save profiles for later viewing. While networking is half the battle of job searching, follow up is the critical factor for success.
I love Boomerang for scheduling email follow up reminders and Assistant.to is perfect for eliminating meeting-scheduling drama. You can also use an email app like Rapportive for immediate social insights on all your contacts.
Organize essential documents
It’s helpful to keep all your career documents in one folder on your computer, with the most important documents easily accessible to attach to emails (such as your general resume). When it comes to the actual application materials, you already know that you should have a customized cover letter for every job. But there is no need to start from scratch.
Instead, save each cover letter (and relevant customized resumes) in themed folders. For example, if you are applying for both private sector business development jobs and social sector fundraising jobs, you should have folders for each type of job, keeping similar cover letters together for reference. Also, don’t forget to name each cover letter with the company name for easy searching.
With these simple organizational hacks, you’ll spend less time digging, and more time reaching your career goals.