Knowing is Power: How I organize my job search

by Tiffany Newton, Head Editor, INALJ Missouri

Knowing is Power: How I organize my job search

TiffanyNewtonAs of June 23, 2013, I have applied for over 70 jobs and have had 15 interviews.  How do I know all this? I keep a record of it.

  • When I first started searching for jobs, I asked some of my colleagues, supervisors, professors, etc., if they’d be willing to be a reference.  I put their names, addresses, phone numbers, email address, and number of years I’ve known them, in a spreadsheet. This way I have everyone’s information in the same place, in an organized manner.
  • Then, I visit INALJ, and other job bank sites and search for job postings. When I see one that I want to apply for, I record the date that I found it, the URL, the deadline for applications, the job title, and any special materials required for the application (like letters of reference or official transcripts).  All of this information is included on a different workbook in the same spreadsheet file as my references.
  • Later, when I have time to apply (usually 2-3 hours per job), I first go through this list to see which ones would be the quickest, that is, which ones don’t require special materials. If there are any that require letters of reference or transcripts, I go ahead and request those, and then I start on an application. Usually, I choose to apply for the one that has the soonest deadline, but sometimes I’m very very excited about a job with a later deadline, so I apply for that one.
  • Finally, I write my cover letter, prepare my resume, proofread everything, write the email, and then attach all the required documents. After I actually apply for the job, I go to a third workbook on my spreadsheet and record information about the job that I had applied for. This includes the date I applied, the job title of the position, the organization, the location, contact information, deadline for applications, start date for the job, the job posting URL, and a few other notes about the job.
  • All this is to help me remember more about the job. I keep the URL so when I get an interview, I can review the job to make sure that I am still interested in it, and so I can prepare for the interview. I keep the deadline and start date, so I know when the deadline’s past, I will start looking for messages from them regarding an interview. Then after the start date of the job, if I haven’t heard anything yet, I assume I didn’t get it, and cross it off the list. If there are no dates, then I have the contact information, so I can contact them and ask about the position.  When I get an interview, I put that information in too.
  • I color code my spreadsheet.  Green means I had at least one interview, Red means there’s a hiring freeze and they can’t hire anyone else. (I’ve only had one position like this, but the possibility is there). Orange means I don’t think I have a good chance of getting it: these usually are ones that require more experience than I have or different qualifications.  Yellow means I think I have a good chance, and I really want this job.  Grey means I was rejected.
  • Another reason that I keep all the jobs I’ve applied for is so I don’t re-apply for the same one. I’ve been looking for jobs in Missouri for about five months now, and the jobs all start looking similar after a few months. With my spreadsheet, I just scan through the list and see if I’ve applied for a job with that particular title at that particular institution. Sometimes they do re-open the position, or extend the deadline. It would look bad if I reapplied for a job for which I have already applied.

Here is a template of my spreadsheet that I use. jobchart_template

It has a few examples on it. Feel free to add or remove fields based on your needs. I hope it helps you organize your job search!

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