When you’re looking for work, you should be as organized—and as busy—as when you have a paid job.
Looking for work is a full-time job. And just like a job, your performance will improve if you keep your work organized. To stay organized, you need to keep track of all the details of your job search. This includes who you’ve talked to, where you’ve applied, and where you’ll apply next.
Being organized will help you feel confident and professional. And you will have all the information you need at your fingertips.
Keep a master list
Your master list is your best tool for staying organized. This is where you record all your work search information. Your master list can be an Excel spreadsheet, Microsoft Word table, or any program that works for you. It can also be a paper binder. Your master list should include separate areas for:
- Employer information. This includes the name, email address, and phone number of the person you’re applying to. Make sure you spell their name correctly! If you haven’t been able to identify a specific person, use the contact information provided in the job posting.
- Job descriptions. Put this information next to the employer information so you can find it easily if you’re called in for an interview. They may take down the online job posting before interviews start, so don’t rely on links—capture a copy when you’re preparing your application.
- A list of marketing tools. This is a list of items you can send with an application. It can include your master resumé and other resumé types, many versions of a cover letter, your portfolio, and thank-you notes.
- A list of what you’ve sent. When you apply for a job, you’ll likely send your resumé. You may also fill out an application and send a portfolio of your work. Keep copies and a detailed list.
- Important dates. This includes application deadlines, the dates on which you sent your applications, and interview dates.
- Messages to employers. You need to keep track of every email, text, and phone call. Don’t risk confusing what you said to whom and on what date.
- Follow up tasks. Did you send a thank-you note after your interview? You might need to follow up if you haven’t heard back from the employer.
- Job status. Once you hear back from the employer—whether it’s good or bad news—record it.
Set up your email inbox
If you’re working full time on finding a job, you’ll have many emails to track. You need a system to make sure you don’t miss an interview or forget to return an email.
Create labels for all the types of emails you’ll be getting—such as interviews, reference checks, and requests for more information. Then create folders for each company you’re applying to. This will make it easy to find and review the information you need.
When you send an email to a company, track it in your master list. Keeping organized like this will prevent you from sending the wrong piece (such as a cover letter) to the wrong employer.
The names of your files should tell you exactly what’s in them. Instead of naming something “Cover letter” call it “Company xyz_Cover letter_June5.” This will make it easy to find what you want and keep you from sending files to the wrong company.
Store all your documents in carefully labelled folders, such as “Resumés,” “Cover letters,” “Thank you notes,” etc.
Looks for tools on the internet
Many major job search websites offer tools to help you organize your job search. You can also search the internet for “Job search tracker” to find several tracking tools, such as templates, and apps that can help you keep your work search organized.
Keep information about the job market
Researching labour market information can give you valuable insight to guide your work search. When you find important information, file it for later reference. Stay up to date on the most recent jobs by keeping:
- News articles about companies you like
- Magazine pieces about job trends
- Your own notes about the job market
- Job postings
You might decide to record these in your master list.
Store your work in the cloud
Store copies of your work search tools in the cloud, such as iCloud or Google Drive. This way, you can access them when you’re not at your desk. You never know when a fresh lead will come in. You’ll want to record it in your master list and calendar right away.
Finding work is a hard job but, by staying organized, you can reduce stress and help to make the most of your opportunities.