Job searching takes time. Lots of time.
Yet much of this time is wasted on tasks that can be simplified — if not completely cut out — by getting organized during the job search process.
Here are five tips for how to organize your job search so you aren’t bogged down with busy work.
There’s a difference between activity and productivity.
If you refresh your email 100 times in a day, that’s active and busy, but it’s not going to help you land your dream job.
Whereas, one carefully-worded LinkedIn message to a hiring manager could land you that dream job, or at least get you the interview. You may sit at the computer writing this email for an hour.
It’d still be worth it.
Plus, you can use that template to reach out to many other hiring managers throughout your job search process. Messaging employers directly is often more fruitful than applying only on job boards, so I recommend all job seekers consider direct outreach.
So as you organize your job search and think about how to track your activities, also consider which activities will bring the best results.
Job seekers who take time to plan out their job search get hired faster in my experience, even if it feels like you’re “wasting” time at the start.
I hinted at this above, but it’s worth repeating here.
If you’re not directly visiting the websites of the companies you want to work at, you’re missing out on key job opportunities.
Yes and no.
While it’s true that plenty of jobs are posted on websites such as Craigslist, Indeed and similar job search sites, the majority of openings never make it past the company’s Careers page.
So, save yourself some crucial time and energy by going directly to the hiring company’s jobs page if you want to know about their current openings.
By bookmarking the Careers pages of all of the companies you want to work at, then organizing them in a folder (see Step 4), you’re saving yourself tons of time and dramatically increasing the number of legit jobs you’ll be able to apply to.
So this is one of the first things you should do when you begin to think about how you’re going to organize your job search.
Here’s a job search organization tip that not enough job seekers take advantage of:
Create saved job searches to take more of the busy work out of researching jobs, which will allow you to spend more time on those tasks that really matter (like networking and preparing for interviews).
While each site calls the function something slightly different (“saved search,” “search alert” and so on), job search websites like Indeed and LinkedIn allow you to search for a job and save the search parameters.
They’ll send you an email notification each time a job that matches those parameters is posted to their site, so you never miss your dream job.
Of course, you can save jobs individually, too, if you see a relevant posting but don’t have time to apply in that moment.
You can set similar search alerts with Google Alerts or any other preferred search platform. You can also change the search alert frequency to ‘daily’ so job opportunities are bunched into a single email, saving you even more time.
Just a few minutes of your time and your inbox will begin filling with job opportunities!
This job searching stuff is stressful in itself. Don’t let your lack of organization be an added stressor.
You don’t want to be called in weeks or months later for an interview, only to find that the hiring managers remove the job posting and you forgot what position you applied to.
Avoid the awkwardness — keep a screenshot of each job you apply to online, whether from job boards, LinkedIn, or a company’s careers page.
While you’re at it, create an individual folder for each company you apply to.
Don’t just save your customized resume and cover letter in the folder, but also add a screen capture of the job posting including the full job description, responsibilities, minimum requirements, desired skills and education.
Also, keep a spreadsheet of the jobs you’ve applied to with dates, company name, job title, and latest status.
That last part is important, since it’ll let you see when to follow up with an employer in your job search.
Keep tracking the latest status as you go on each job interview, too.
You’ll be able to see when a company owes you interview feedback, and if you don’t hear a response after the interview, you can follow up by email.
Here’s an example of a simple layout for a spreadsheet to organize your job search:
This is a powerful way to get organized and keep track of everything going on in your job search.
Statistically speaking, the best way to land a new job is still via networking. Most positions are never even posted online because often they are filled through word of mouth referrals or recommendations.
Before spending your valuable time filling out applications, you should be checking if any of your friends, family, colleagues or other connections work at the hiring company.
This process can often seem time-consuming, but can be simplified by using LinkedIn’s job searching features!
Furthermore, LinkedIn allows you to export a list of your connections, their current company and position, and other relevant information into a spreadsheet.
After you’ve downloaded this list, search it each time you apply for a job. If one of your connections works there, ask them for a referral!
This can often lead to your resume going directly to the hiring manager, with a much higher chance of getting read.
Don’t be afraid to ask friends and even colleagues for a referral. Some employers pay hundreds or thousands of dollars when a current employee refers a job seeker who ends up getting hired. So you could be doing them a big favor.
While you can do this search via LinkedIn using the “Current Company” field, the first method (exporting your contacts) is much quicker. Plus, the spreadsheet allows you to filter your results by company name, and then sort with color-coded columns and add notes each time you reach out to someone. So much customization!
That’s not the only way that job seekers can use a spreadsheet to stay organized and save time, so let’s talk about one more tip for using spreadsheets below.
If you use the five tips above to organize your job hunt, you’ll save time and get noticed for more opportunities so you can land your dream job faster.
By saving time on repetitive, organizational tasks, you’ll be able to dedicate more time to what matters most, like networking, writing a great resume and cover letter, and taking time to study job descriptions and employers before each interview to impress them.
You’ll also know when to follow up in your job hunt, so that nothing falls through the cracks (employers are busy and DO forget to follow up with you at times).
Staying organized in your job hunt becomes even more essential when you’re going on multiple interviews and talking to many target companies.
When you properly organize your job search and start keeping track of the status with each employer, you save time and boost your odds of landing a job.
This article was written with the help of Kyle Elliott:
Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES runs CaffeinatedKyle.com. His goal is simple – to help people find jobs they LOVE (or at least tolerate). Kyle loves coffee (if you couldn’t tell), writing and eating the same thing at different restaurants.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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