Tracking Your Job Search Activities
When I got married, my husband put together a spreadsheet to track all of the wedding tasks that we needed to take care of prior to the big day. It was quite elaborate, and at the time, I thought he was spending way more time updating and making his spreadsheet pretty than actually helping me with the wedding planning. We have been married for 25 years, so I guess it is time to let that one go. What he was doing was putting together a project plan with the goal of having an awesome wedding that met our goals and budget. We achieved that by following our project plan. You need to do the same thing by making your own job search project plan.
What is in a job search project plan?
The project plan is a way for you to plan out the activities that you need to accomplish to successfully find a job. At the outset you need to develop general categories of activities like developing a resume, networking, and researching companies. Like with any project plan, figure out what activities need to be done one after the other and which can be done concurrently. You will then need to refine those broad categories and start building concrete steps with timelines attached. Important to this process is to use SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound). Challenge yourself to do more than you are initially comfortable with. If you think a reasonable goal at the start is making five new contacts each week then challenge yourself to make eight or even ten. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish if you have a concrete goal. This plan is a living document, so be aware that it will need to be updated as you go through your job search.
Tracking Your Work
The three absolute musts that need to be tracked in a job search project plan are the following:
You should include the name of the company, date of application, the email address or posting URL. It is helpful to have a folder where you keep both a copy of the resume you used (as you should have several versions) and the job posting itself (not links, as the posting can be taken down at any time by the company).
This should include the name of the event (if applicable) and name of the person and contact information. It may be helpful to also add any biographical information and important snippets from the conversation or email exchange.
This section would include the name, title and contact information of the person that interviewed you. You may also want to include information from the interview such as when to expect to hear back, interesting questions posed and your general impressions.
You may also want to separately record the following:
Your Company Research
Here you could include URLs, names of individuals in the organization with titles and any connections, competitors, benefits, culture, etc.
Names and contact information for your references. You may also want to record what your reference would tell a prospective employer about you.
This area may include information you have learned about salary ranges for jobs in specific industries or companies.
How to Do This?
You can go as simple or as elaborate as you want.
Three ring binder with tabs designated for each activity. This is as simple as you can get. The challenge with this method is being able to put your hands on the information you need quickly when you have applied to many positions or have an extensive network.
Web and App-based tools
There are several apps that can help you organize your job search. Below are a few.
Huntr (Web, iOS, Android and Chrome Extension)
JibberJobber (Web, iOS and Android)
JobHero (Web and Sidekick)
Whatever you choose, stick to it! Don’t get lazy and forget to enter you activities. When a networking contact calls you back six weeks after you initiated contact (unfortunately a reality), you want to be able to quickly find the information you recorded so that you can have a knowledgeable conversation. It is never a good impression to have to go, “who are you?”
“Once you have a clear idea of your priorities – that is your values, goals and high leverage activities, organize around them” – Stephen Covey