Whether you’re looking for your first job out of college, or your first job after 10 years with the same company, these organizational tips can help you land something fast.
Looking for a job can feel like a full-time job. Managing your job search requires dedication, discipline and organization.
In a competitive job market, your search can get frustrating and messy if you don’t tackle it with an organized approach. No matter what field you hope to land in, you need to stay on top of your job search game.
Follow these six tips to organize your job search. The more focused and productive you are, the faster you’ll get the results (and job) you really want.
1. Know what you want
Before starting any journey, you should have an idea of where you’d like to go. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
It’s not always easy to identify your ideal career. One way to move in the right direction is to identify things you like to do, the types of work environments that appeal to you and even the types of people you enjoy working with. Thinking about these elements will help you decide what companies, industries or roles would be good for you.
It could be helpful to try out some free personality assessment tools that can help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. Myers & Briggs offers many personality tests, including some focussed on career. Via me offers a chance for candidates to get a free character strength profile, Colorcode offers a basic analysis and The Passion Test can help you discover your true passion.
Different tests will reveal different aspects of your personality. When taking these tests, keep a paper and pen handy and jot down the key points. Instead of wondering about what may work for you, make that list and make things happen.
2. Set specific goals and parameters
To get organized, clearly define and set goals for your job search. While your ultimate goal is to find employment, setting milestones along the way gives you something to work towards.
Set weekly goals for how many networking connections you’ll reach out to, the number of companies to research and how many jobs you’ll try to apply to each week. These goals will create the opportunities you need to track later in your job search.
It’s also important to know which priorities will help narrow down your search to the targeted opportunities. For instance, you should know if you want to work for a nonprofit organization or a Fortune 500 company or how far you’re willing to commute to work. Once you set those priorities, you can tailor your job search around them.
3. Create meaningful lists
It’s amazing how much a simple spreadsheet can help keep you organized. Don’t underestimate the power and simplicity of a good-ol’-fashioned list. You can check off tasks as your job search progresses.
If you feel a little overwhelmed, try creating lists to keep you on top of things. Lists can help you keep track of info like:
- Networking contact details
- Companies worth researching
- Job postings to apply for
- Interview requests
4. Track your activity
Many job seekers try to rely on memory to stay on top of their activity. This can get difficult as you apply to more and more jobs.
Stay organized and keep track of relevant information like when you applied to a certain job or how long it’s been since you heard from the hiring manager.
Since you already created meaningful lists above, create a system to keep track of where you’ve applied, when you sent your materials, any relevant company information, the names of people you’ve reached out to or spoken with, interview requests and other info you need to stay on top of throughout the process.
5. Organize your physical and digital job search workspace
In the digital age, we have both physical and online workspaces. Both should be set up in a way to keep you on top of your game. Most people operate better when their physical space is neat and tidy.
Keeping your workspace de-cluttered will help you stay on top of deadlines. Be sure to organize all your job applications, cover letters and variations of your resume as well. Don’t risk sending the cover letter you wrote for company X to company Y.
To stay organized online, compile your job search info, lists and any other information into one folder and subsequent subfolders. Whether you decide to use folders on your desktop, Dropbox or Google Docs, every document should have a home so you can find things quickly when you need to follow up on action items.
6. Don’t spend too much — or too little — time on one thing
Your success may depend on good time management skills. You’ll be more effective in setting goals, creating lists and tracking your progress when you properly manage your time.
Start by logging tasks and follow-up events in your calendar. Block out time for research, or allot time for responding to emails and following up. When you’re this organized with your time, success in your job search is close at hand!
Are you taking similar steps to keep your job search organized? Share your tips below!
Afifa Siddiqui is the Co-Founder of Careerleaf, the new generation of job board software focused on the candidate experience. Connect with Afifa and Careerleaf on Facebook and Twitter.