Keep the Log Rolling

by Grey Maixner, Head Editor, INALJ Vermont

Keep the Log Rolling

grey_maixnerAs we all know, applying for jobs is a daunting task. Cover letters need written, resumes revised, and every 6 months or so you need to contact your references to ensure that they are still willing to vouch for you. Compounding these problems is an insidious trap, one easy to fall prey to; losing track of what you’ve done. In this article, we are going to explore the importance of keeping a job log and some technologies readily available for you to use.

There are three main reasons to keep a job log, before, during, and after the process.

  • First is to help set up a stable application schedule.
  • Second, you’ll want to keep track of when you applied, and possibly start taking statistics of your progress.
  • And finally, keeping a job log will make sure you will be able to easily recall the specifics about the job when the interview comes around.

With an ocean of jobs out in the world, picking out the ones to tackle first is a hurdle in and of itself. If you are like me, you collect links to jobs like they’re Pokemon cards and it’s 1998. These continue adding up into a pile, while friends, listserv, and the wonderful folks here are INALJ keep providing other opportunities. By keeping a log of all of your chosen, available job opportunities, you can sort these links by date the application is due, or even by how likely you think you are to get the coveted interview. Either way, this level of organization will help you make better use of your time.

Next, you’ll want to keep the dates that you applied for these jobs, their closing dates, and expected start dates handy. There has been more than one time where I simply didn’t hear anything about the interview process. Nada. Zilch. It can be agitating, but by having the dates you applied listed, you can feel more in control. Keeping the dates can also help you stay honest with yourself and about how many jobs you are applying to in any given amount of time.

Finally, keeping a log comes in handy when it comes time for the interview. Sending out two or more applications every week is great, but with even half that pace, it is difficult to remember what each position entailed, its description, and what you wrote in your cover letter. This problem only gets magnified by the amount of time it takes for the search committee to send out invitation for interviews. Long before this happens, the post about the job is usually taken off of the web, rendering your link useless. Keeping a copy of the job description and the expected duties, along with a copy of your cover letter, can help you refresh when you do land the interview.

Fortunately, the software is out there to help get a log started and keep it going. I find that a simple Word document, or the Google Drive equivalent, is efficient and easy. In this document, I also include a path to a folder housing my application materials on my computer. Storing this document either in Dropbox, or the aforementioned Google server, means that you can access it anywhere to add new jobs, no matter what computer you are on. It is also useful to have a formatting standard, or, for the artistic types, even different text colours to indicate a jobs you have or have yet to apply to, or to mark off a listing when you get a rejection letter.

Alternatively, spreadsheets or database applications also work incredibly well, but may take more work and time than a text document. The added benefit of using database technologies, such as Microsoft Access or MySQL, will be the practice you will get using them. If you are not already comfortable using software like this, creating a job log is a good starting project to get your feet wet.

While keeping a log will add some time to your job hunt, it is time well spent. Keeping your list current and linked to the appropriate materials, ensures that you are always on the top of your game, and gives you the edge when it comes to the interview.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 18.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website, KhanMoving.com, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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