When on the hunt for a job, it’s not uncommon to apply for multiple opportunities simultaneously. This is especially true for those of us just starting our careers. But multiple applications mean different resume versions, various cover letters and many deadlines to keep track of. With so many moving parts, it’s difficult to maintain an organized job search.
But a disorderly job search process can lead to embarrassing mistakes such as lost phone numbers, confused deadlines and missed interviews.
To help you avoid making these mistakes, and missing out on golden career opportunities, we’ve put together a few tips to help you engage in an organized job search.
Start With Your Career Goals
It’s natural to want to jump right in and begin filling out applications. Before you do, take a step back and look at the big picture. Your career journey should start with a look at your direction.
Though it may seem trivial to set aside time to clearly think through your career path, this is one of your most important steps. How will you get anywhere if you don’t know where you want to be?
Reflect on what you’d like to do and why you feel that’s the right path. It’s easy to feel lost and unsure about your direction. And at this stage in your life, that’s ok. Start by thinking about your long-term goals as those don’t need to be very specific. Where do you want to be 10 years from now?
Then work backward: down to five years, one year and six months from now. Be sure to think through your personal goals in addition to your career and finances. Take your family, education, and anything else you value, into consideration and you’ll have a plan for an organized job search.
Create a Schedule
After you’ve spent some time finding your direction and clearly thinking through your goals, start building a schedule. After all, in order to achieve the goals, you’ll need time to go after them.
The first step in this stage is to identify time you can dedicate to job searching. Find blocks of time within your schedule between classes, work, and other responsibilities. Job searching is a time-consuming process and requires regular attention. Aim to set aside at least two hours every day to fully focus on your search.
Next, build a schedule to complete priority tasks. For instance, devote one hour to cleaning up your professional online profiles like LinkedIn. Devote another hour or two to prepare your resume. You should be able to fill up at least the first few days of your schedule, if not your first week, with these logistical tasks.
Perhaps even more important than setting up this schedule is sticking to it. Let’s be honest –resume building and email sending are less than thrilling. It can be easy to let these fall by the wayside in favor of something more exciting. However, this will only lead you to a less than organized job search. Make sure the time you set aside for job searching is free of any other activities.
Minimize your Job Applications
A job search is usually a high-pressure situation, so it’s easy to begin aimlessly applying for any open position. Even though applying for more jobs makes you feel like you increase your chances, this is really just a waste of time – not to mention an easy way to lose control of an organized job search.
Remember that time you dedicated at the beginning of this process to think through your short-term and long-term goals? Here’s where that comes in handy. Start by narrowing your search to only the jobs that align with those goals. Look for the opportunities that will help you get where you want to be.
Next, narrow your search to only the openings that match your skill level. This doesn’t necessarily mean your qualifications need to match up exactly with those listed in the job description. In fact, this will likely never be the case. Job descriptions should be more of a directional tool for whether you’re a fit for a role, so look for those where you match around 80 percent of the qualifications listed.
Track Each Position
Here’s where the process can get messy. Applying for multiple positions at once leaves you with many tasks to manage. It’s important to make sure you keep track of all the different details.
One of the best ways to do this is to create a system to keep track each position you apply for. One of the most common methods to use a spreadsheet. Don’t worry about making anything too fancy. Just include basic information such as:
- Company Name: the name of the organizations you apply to
- Contact Details: include the name, email and phone number of your contact at the company. this usually will be a hiring manager
- Date Applied: the date you submitted your initial application
- Deadlines and Interviews: deadlines for upcoming information the company asks for and scheduled interviews
- Date Followed-up: date you followed up after an application submission or interview
- Status of Application: whether you’ve been rejected, are waiting to hear back, or have an interview scheduled
Not a fan of excel? No problem. There are tons of different ways to track this information.
JibberJobber is an online job search organization tool that helps you keep track of tasks. If you prefer working on your phone or tablet, there are tons of great apps available. Most major online job boards including Indeed, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn provide step-by-step instructions for job applications.
Also, keep in mind that setting up a system for tracking alone is not enough. You need to be diligent in updating your system each time you take a new action or receive an update from a potential employer.
There are so many moving parts to keep track of when job searching. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and confused. But by following these simple tips, you’ll have a more effective and organized job search.
This story was written by StudySoup, a peer-to-peer learning marketplace that connects top students in the class with those who need a little help. Top students can upload their notes and study guides to the StudySoup Marketplace, providing their peers with helpful materials while also earning some extra cash.