Guest post by Katie Niekrash
Diving head-first into your job search without preparing sufficiently for it will only leave room for embarrassing and unprofessional mistakes. Applying to the same job twice, applying to the wrong job, and being caught off-guard when you do get a call are among these job seeker faux-pas. In order to be on point with every stage of your job search, you have to be organized ahead of time. Use these few tips to better manage what can become a complicated and disorganized process.
It’s all too easy to open up a search engine, apply to a few job listings, and then feel accomplished enough to let a week of inaction go by. Doing so will be inefficient and can prolong your search, so it’s important to have goals to speed up the process—and make sure you don’t miss any opportunities along the way.
Set aside a certain time each day to browse job forums, apply, and network. Know ahead of time what goals you’d like to accomplish in each of these sessions. Whether these goals are applying to a specified number of jobs each day or spending a certain amount of time on your search in general, having them will keep you working more efficiently. Keeping a calendar, whether electronic or on paper, can also help you stay on track.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Professional social networking sites like LinkedIn have become a staple in a jobseeker’s online presence. Make sure you keep your profile up-to-date and relevant. Use it to make connections, post on related topics, and stay on top of industry-specific knowledge. The more active your profile is, the better you’ll look—and the more empowered you’ll feel. Choose one site and use every relevant facet of that site to bulk up your online resume and portfolio. As you apply to jobs, you’ll have to tailor each resume and cover letter to the specific position. It will help having one accessible, general model to work from and showcase.
These sites also have great tools that allow you to keep track of jobs you’ve applied to as well as each application’s status. However, between these social networking sites and similar profiles on job search engines, keeping track of each application can get messy. That’s why it’s important to…
Keep a Master List
Probably your best organizational tool in your job search will be your list. Create an Excel spreadsheet that contains a row for each job you apply for. It should be as detailed as possible, including information such as: the date you applied; the company; the contact; the position for which you applied; how you applied; if, when, and with whom you interviewed; when you should next follow up or what your next steps are; and the current status of the application. It may be helpful to create separate tabs for open, pending, and closed applications.
Excel is a wonderful tool for this because it’s easy to move rows around and reorganize them depending on your current need. When applying for a large number of jobs across a variety of search engines, it is possible to come across a duplicate posting without realizing it. By keeping your list in Excel or a similar program, it can be as easy as using the automatic “sort” button to organize your list by the company name or position title to see if you’ve already sent in your resume for that particular position. Do this for every application sent, and you’ll never commit the embarrassing resubmission.
Organize Your Emails
Once you start making contacts and receiving responses to your applications, organize them into email folders. Keeping your email organized in a similar fashion to your spreadsheet is your best bet for preventing clutter and staying up-to-date on your progress. Should you arrange your spreadsheet into “Open”, “Pending”, and “Closed” tabs, do the same for your email. It will be much easier on the eyes to remove all of the emails from your inbox that are no longer relevant and store them in your closed folder. The Open and Pending folders will help you keep track of which applications are yet to receive a response and which have.
Finally, make sure to be prepared for calls. They can come at any time and seeming unprepared—or worse, that you have forgotten you applied to the position—is unprofessional. It’s easy to lose track, so keep an updated copy of your list on you at all times and your email open whenever possible. Remember, preparation is key!
Author Bio: As a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group‘s Healthcare division, Katie Niekrash has worked tirelessly since joining the firm in 2007. She is accredited with developing new markets for the firm and has been an active member in building the division into one of the largest of its kind in the Tri-State area.