How Do You Keep Track of Your Job Hunt?
Ever met someone who was really excited to be looking for a job? Someone who leaps out of bed every morning with a song in their heart, just thrilled to get cracking on another rousing day of going to the unemployment office, making partial payments on their student loans, surfing for job openings and filling out online forms?
Me neither. In fact when a day like that is over a person might be tempted to forget the whole thing and just go drink. But let me take a minute here to urge you to take one more step before you close your laptop for the night and possibly self-medicate.
You should be keeping track of everything you do. The benefits of doing this are legion. First of all, it can give you a sense of control and accomplishment, instead of feeling like you’re swimming around in empty days. You can look back on what you’ve done so far and get feedback from your own information. How many resumes have you sent out, and to whom? How long ago? Did you ever hear back from them?
Monitoring the whole process can give you focus, and help you improve on how you’re targeting your search and marketing yourself. When leads die out and you get stuck, there might be information stored in your job hunt records that gets you started again. And when you finally do land a job, it’s good to hold on to those contacts. Why? Because if you learn from every interview you go on, send a thank you note and keep a record of it, there might be a business relationship there you can build on.
I know it’s still a pain. Keeping a copy of every cover and thank you letter, and saving addresses and contacts can be boring and pointless, especially if you never do get a job out of it. But honestly: Surfing to jobsites, applying, and waiting is depressing. The more active you are, the more it will feel like you’re getting somewhere.
The Basic Tracker
No, it’s not the Sticky Note System. The most basic way to track a job hunt is with a copy of Microsoft Excel (or OpenOffice Spreadsheet). Just open up a new file and fill in the columns at the top:
ñFollow up date
ñInterview ( date)
ñThank You Letter ( checkbox)
ñClosing Date ( This goes at the end so you can scan quickly to find defunct opportunities)
Also create a folder in your email inbox for saved correspondence. You can sort and filter these to track all your conversations with companies and contacts and to save notifications that your application was received.
And finally, create folders for your resumes. saved cover letters and thank you letters. One smart thing to do is to email yourself a copy of each of these even if you sent them out regular mail. That way you’ll have a copy that one dark day you have an urgent, promising lead and a dead computer.
The Cadillac Options
Don’t you wish there was software or a web-based application that pulled this whole process together? You’re in luck! There is an app for that!
Actually there is more than one:
JibberJobber is the oldest and most elaborate online job hunt tracker. This web-based software manages and organizes your search, saves contacts and tracks jobs and companies. Designer Jason Alba says he started the site after he outgrew his spreadsheet and wished there was a three dimensional database to manage it all. JibberJobber’s multi-view interface will develop into an array of database records containing everything associated with your job search. Also on-site are free webinars on how to use the software to your best advantage, and other job search topics. There is a free version, or you can upgrade to two levels of membership.
My Job Search Pilot offers a similar interface but has additional services on offer such as job hunt coaching, position research and resume help. The job tracker software searches jobs, saves company information and attaches documents to your leads once you email them through My Job Search Pilot. There is no free version of their software, though. When I toured the interface I liked it a lot, but getting involved in “one week trial memberships” can sometimes end up costing. Good news: They didn’t ask for my credit card to try it.
LinkedIn is a social media site that has some job tracking functions built in. For example, person’s “Connections” are an inherent networking strategy that will stay with you long after your job search is over. InMail, the interior messaging system, will store all communication from your professional contacts on the site. Plus, a detailed electronic resume can be updated and displayed for anyone who wants to see it. There is an option inside LinkedIn to create a private profile as well, if fully public is not your style.
Job Search Toolbox 2.6
This is one of several free programs available that load onto your PC. It will bring up job listings from websites such as Monster.com, and gather information from saved jobs to put into contact forms and emails, and save all your work. It is not web-based, so it can get outdated and might corrupt over time, but if you don’t like the idea of “registering” to get to your web applications this is a reasonable alternative.
There are a few other options out there, and there is always the sticky note strategy. But no matter what route you take there’s a huge advantage to automating your job search and staying organized. Even if you do wake up in the morning with a lilt in your step because you get to look for a job today, the process can always be easier with a little help.