4 Tips for Organizing Your Job Search

February 4, 2019

Once you have decided that the time has come to actively search for a new career opportunity, it’s easy to become a bit overzealous with the application process. Rapid-fire applications are not the best strategy, however. You may apply for positions that are not good matches, miss meetings, mix up your supporting documents, and, in general, make mistakes that could cost you a role that you would have excelled in and loved.

Whether you’re just beginning your career or not, keep the following things in mind when planning and organizing your job search:

1. Do research on the places that interest you.

Look at the businesses that are doing the kind of work that you are good at and passionate about, and see if they’re hiring. Check out publicly available information on their people, their values and their culture. Review your network: Do you know anyone who works there currently? They might be able to provide a soft introduction to the talent acquisition professional who listed the role, or even to someone else on the team. The person referring you might have some valuable advice to share, too.

If you’re interested in working for a business that doesn’t appear to be hiring at your level or within your sector, then write to them anyway to express your interest and request an introductory meeting. Informational interviews are first-rate networking opportunities that could land you a job or referral further down the line.

2. Create a tracking sheet for your applications and interviews.

In Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, create a grid to track your applications and interview processes. This is the simplest, most effective way to organize your search once you’re ready to start hitting “apply.” There don’t have to be any bells, whistles or formulas.

Your columns may include: company name, contact name, contact email address and phone number, the date of your application, a link to the position listing, an application summary (what you have shared: résumé, cover letter, portfolio, etc.), who may have referred you, interview dates, follow up (reminding you to send a thank-you note after every conversation and at least a weekly check-in), and overall status. Do the same if a recruiter or headhunter is working with you on your job search. Look at this regularly, and keep it up-to-date.

3. Use thorough file-naming strategies.

A successful job seeker will customize their cover letters and résumés for the roles they are applying for. Have a master version of your résumé, but be sure to save any adjusted versions in a way that will remind you of what you have sent to each company. I always find this version convenient: last name, first name, company name, and date. Your saved file name might look something like this: Doe, Jane — Company Name (February 2019).pdf.

This practice is also helpful to the talent acquisition teams. It becomes easier for them to keep track of their most recent documentation for you as they work internally to drive you forward in the process. Your organization will support theirs and, in turn, functions as one small thing that can make you stand out as a candidate and a professional.

4. Lastly, keep a notebook exclusively dedicated to your job search.

Whether you are jotting down findings when researching a firm or taking notes while an interviewer is answering your questions, it’s nice to be able to keep all of your notes in one place. This gives you a chance to look away from the screen, and it puts a pen back into your hand. Take your notebook to any networking events that you might attend during your job search.

Searching for a new career opportunity in any industry is often a labor-intensive process, but if you apply these tactics, then it is absolutely possible to keep your job search positive, efficient and productive. 

Christina Stokes

Christina Stokes is the vice president and director of talent acquisition at Rubenstein. She is passionate about refining and enhancing employee engagement, company culture, and diversity and inclusion efforts. Twitter: @NewYorkRoses.


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