Are you struggling to keep up with your job search? You probably know that you need to be organized and keep better track of your leads, but how do you achieve that?
How to organize your job search.
Getting organized in your job search means knowing with whom you are connecting, why and other important data points, so that you can recall them when needed. It is easy to keep 3 job targets in your head. Thirty is not so easy. You may think that you will remember information about the company, your value proposition for the role and other factors, but without this information at your fingertips, you are likely to miss something.
Essentially, you need to know and remember the “who, what, where, when, why and how’s” of your job search. If you keep track of this information, not only will it help you feel as though you are making progress on your job search, but it will allow you to keep up with the important contacts that you have made rather than losing out on opportunities because you failed to follow up.
While it may seem like extra work to keep track of where you are applying, if it seems like too much effort to keep track of what you are doing, you are probably “doing too much” on the search front (i.e., sending out applications blindly without slowing down to think about whether the jobs to which you are applying are actually good fits for your talents, interests and skills). It is much more productive to slow down and be thoughtful about your applications than try to blanket the market with your resume.
Imagine you receive a call from the HR department of one of your target employers. She says, “Hi, it’s Sherrie at Set Your Sights High,” and you say, “Ummm….”
If you were being completely honest, you may answer:
“Hi Sherrie, can you hold on…? I think I remember you but not your company. Actually, can I call you back when I figure out where you are calling from and why I sent you an application?”
I am sure you’ll agree that’s not your best look.
I often suggest to my clients that they arrange their job search and interview information in a chart form, such as Microsoft Excel, with the headings of each column as follows. Here are examples of how to arrange it, with the bolded information sorted by columns and the data in rows.
Spreadsheet #1 – Target Roles (examples)
- Contact at Target – Jorge Rodriguez
- Target Company Name – Blankman & Co.
- Nature of Relationship – our kids play soccer together
- What I Offer this Target – my blend of technology and people skills plus large and small company expertise; they are growing quickly; looking for new COO; want someone decisive; my leadership roles and recruiting are a plus; they like that I have some sales background and can relate to sales team
- Date/Stage of Last Contact – email on 6/1
- Next Steps – follow up with phone call if haven’t heard by 6/15
- Notes – also knows my good friend Ralph and probably Sara, need to bring this up somehow
Spreadsheet #2 – Connectors (examples)
- Name – Lana Kinderman
- Company Name – Kinderman & Associates
- Nature of Relationship – known since graduate school
- Reason for Connection – will refer me to an UN jobs or others where she has contacts; said I may need to first apply, then she will forward resume to right people
- Date/Point of Last Contact – lunch on 5/10
- Next Steps – invite her to September networking event; finalize resume to send her
- Notes – remind Lana I speak fluent Spanish next time I see her
For the second spreadsheet, “Connectors” are people who are well poised to connect you to possible targets, and the “Reason for Connection” relates to the type of roles with which or individuals with whom they can connect you. For example, the Reason for Connection may be that the individual knows a number of private company CEOs or has other contacts in a certain field and is willing and able to help you connect with them (i.e., has a strong network and wants to support your job search by helping you make connections). Recruiters can also go on the Connectors chart, or a separate chart, since they also have the potential to connect you with a number of roles.
If you are applying to very different sets of roles (e.g., non-profit administration roles and corporate social responsibility (CSR) positions), I would suggest using additional sets of spreadsheets, or different workbooks within Excel if you find that easier, for each leg of your job search, naming them appropriately. The more structured you can make your approach, without complicating it, the better. (And if you find Excel intimidating, tables in Word also work. The point is to use this information to serve your job search, not to be tied to a certain format.)
Some of my clients prefer to include contact information for individuals in this same chart, although I generally keep that separate, so that the spreadsheet is still printable and readable on an 8 ½ x 11 page without heavy formatting.
Click here for a sample spreadsheet.
Alternatively, you can record your job leads and next steps online, rather than through a spreadsheet. This is entirely in the best interest of the job seeker rather than an issue of best practice. I like to see everything on a few pages, neatly organized, and do not want to have to sign in and remember passwords to access my information. Others may appreciate the support of a system. Jibberjobber.com works well for many candidates, for example, and it is free (at the time of this post) for a basic account.
Once you have an interview with a target company, I suggest creating more detailed pages outlining your research and talking points, which I will discuss in more detail in a future post.
Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, writer and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. The above is an excerpt from her forthcoming book on job interviews. For more information about Anne Marie’s coaching practice, please visit www.segalcoaching.com.