7 Ways to Organize Your Job Search!

Whether you’re working full-time or part-time, have been laid off, or recently graduated, if you are job searching you’ll enjoy better results by organizing your search.  It doesn’t matter so much how you do it, as long as it is organized in some way and works for you (i.e., includes the right balance of all the elements that will lead to your next success).  Here are 7 key ways to organize your search.  Use them to create and tweak a plan to fit you, and help you effectively pursue and reach your employment goal.

1) Have a clear idea of the job/field you want!  This may sound simple or obvious, but many people begin looking for a job without first taking the time to be sure they can answer the question “What position are you looking for?”

As Alice learns when she asks the Cat “̒Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’  ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.’”

–Lewis Carroll

Start with the destination in mind and work back to create a plan that will get you there (or closer to it).  Much of the rest of what we’ll talk about here depends on knowing “where you want to get to.”

2) Create a weekly schedule with all 7days and either blocks of hours or morning/afternoon/evening sections for each day.  Use this to list activities that will be  a regular part of your job search and note when you’ll typically do each.  These will be activities such as networking; reading job ads online and in print, creating and sending customized cover letters and résumés in response to the job postings; researching companies you may want to work for and actively identifying positions that offer a good match for your skills/passions; seeking effective ways to approach and connect with someone in these companies; attending job fairs and networking/professional development opportunities, and participation in professional social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn).

3) Treat your job search like a full-time job (it is!).  Schedule 25+ hours a week if you are currently not employed.  If you are working or attending school full-time, adjust the hours around your work or school schedule and strive for at least 5-10 hours per week. Include weekly time to relax; do something for fun, enjoyment and renewal.

4) Follow-up after interviews, meetings and networking contacts.  Also (if you know the name of the company) you may want to follow-up a week to ten days after sending a résumé.  Put the follow-up date and contact information/notes you’ll need on your calendar.

5) Include time for activities related to skills you want to develop or keep fresh. Examples of such activities include volunteering, taking a class, interning, and working part-time in your chosen field to gain experience or a specific skill.  This strategy will also help you answer potential employers’ questions about what you’re currently doing, in addition to job searching (if you are not employed or a full-time student).

6) Organize and document job descriptions, résumés and cover letters you’ve sent for each, and track contacts you’ve had with those in your network, potential employers and others (include dates/notes on the content of contact and follow-up needed).  You can create a system to do this—using a notebook or capturing the information in an electronic format—or use a career management system such as JibberJobber—a high quality web-based system with lots of great features and options for both free and premium accounts  www.jibberjobber.com.  Remember to keep this information throughout your job search to refer back to.  You’ll also want to keep much of this (contact information, for example) for future reference.

7) Maintain and nurture a positive attitude throughout your job search (and beyond!). Not only will it benefit you and your well-being, but it will also be more likely to lead to success with your job search efforts.  Employers consistently cite positive attitude as a highly sought after quality in candidates.

Shahrzad Arasteh, M.A., helps people create and pursue their career search plan using 10+ years of experience and a holistic approach to career counseling.  She is a Certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Practitioner, a Master Career Development Professional, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a Certified Global Career Development Facilitator.  If you are ready to create your career search plan and find your meaningful work, visit http://www.careerconsultmd.com or contact her shahrzad[at]careerconsultmd.com