Know Your Job Search Organizational Style

by Clare Sobotka, former Head Editor, now Senior Assistant
previously published 2/25/14

Know Your Job Search Organizational Style

Clare SobotkaThere is a lot to keep track of when applying for jobs, such as due dates and application materials, so it’s important to develop a system of organization that works for you. Several INALJ editors have shared their excellent job search organization advice, including Tiffany Newton, former head editor for INALJ Missouri: Knowing is Power: How I organize my job search and Amanda May, former head editor for INALJ North Dakota: Getting Organized for your Job Search.

Both have used Excel or another spreadsheet to keep track of their job search information. I think the idea of a job search spreadsheet is ingenius. And it is, just not for me. Because I can’t stick to it. I know, I’ve tried it twice: once in Google Docs and once in Excel. In case others have trouble with the spreadsheet method, or are just starting the job hunt and are considering different ways to organize, I wanted to share my job search organization style. Following is what works for me; I need an in-your-face approach.

I keep a main folder on my PC desktop titled “Job Applications.” In the folder are several individual files:

• a PDF of my unofficial transcript
• PDF and Word versions of my generic resumes that can be used as templates for more than one job application
• a Word document with my references. I suggest including information for three supervisors from jobs that you will mention in your application, and at least three additional references. I have needed all six, and it will save you pain if you have the information at your fingertips so you can cut and paste.

Within the “Job Applications” folder I have a subfolder for each posting I have finished applying to, that includes:

• the job description
• the unique cover letter
• a copy of the resume I used
• a copy of any “Supplemental Questions” I had to answer. Do keep track of your answers for supplemental questions because they will sometimes be repeated, and you don’t want to spend time reinventing your responses. It might even be worth making a separate Word document in the main folder of the questions I come across.
• occasionally a copy of the online job application that I downloaded or copied to a Word document after completing.

For each unfinished application, I keep a folder on the desktop with any of the above pieces in it that I have completed. I title it with the job title and one further piece of identification, such as name of the institution or the state the job is in. When I finish an application, I move its folder to the “Job Applications” folder.

Beside the folder system, I use the “Sticky Notes” application on Windows 7 to make myself lists and notes on my desktop. I also use a desktop calendar called VueMinder (free download), although there are others. VueMinder is my place to note down when job applications are due or when I have an interview. I’m a visual person, so seeing the calendar format gives me a better idea of my timeline. It is also possible to schedule follow up dates, if necessary.

I once attended a job talk for MLS/MIS students, and one speaker suggested keeping a binder with tabbed sections for each job application. Sections contained the job description, a copy of any materials submitted, and contact information for whomever she had sent her resume to or networked with, so that if a potential employer called her, she would have all the information at hand and could remember who she was speaking with. And it came in handy for phone interviews.

There are other online tools and apps such as JibberJober, StartWire, and Huntsy to help you organize aspects of your search, but I haven’t utilized them myself. In my case, I figured that if I couldn’t keep a spreadsheet, I’m not going to keep up applications that aren’t in front of my nose. How do you or fellow MLIS students and grads stay organized? Comment below or start a discussion on the INALJ LinkedIn group!