April 26, 2011
The Secret to an Organized, Happy Job Hunt
Stever Robbins is the CEO of JobTacToe.com, a site that helps job hunters stay motivated and moving in their job hunt, as well as the author of "Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More" -- when it comes to organization and productivity, he knows what he's talking about. We asked him to share his tips on a successful job hunt; here's what he had to say:
When you’re job hunting, you want to spend your time finding and pursuing jobs, not shuffling through piles of paper looking for a misplaced phone number of a potential employer. Being well organized for your hunt is a must.
Get a people-tracking system. A job hunt is all about the people you meet. You’ll need to keep track of them with a good contact-management system. Use an existing address book program like Apple’s Address Book or Outlook. You can also use a Web-based system such as HighRiseHQ.com, which lets you track people, the emails you've sent and received, and notes from conversations.
Track reference information.
You’ll be doing research during your job hunt, and you need to keep it filed so you can get it when you need it. Start with about 20 digital folders on your computer desktop, or 20 file folders and a package of notebook paper.
Label one file folder for each industry you’re researching -- for example, "Industry-Banking," or "Industry-Fashion." This is where you file articles about industry trends and news, so you can make smart conversation when meeting people in that industry. If you're looking in multiple industries, create a file folder for each industry.
Label another folder according to the job you want to do -- for example, "Function-Graphic Designer" or "Function-Programmer." Here, file information about your job function. If you read that graphic designers now must know Python, save the article in this folder. Use this folder to prepare interesting topics when talking to a hiring manager. If you're looking at several job functions -- say, graphic designer and marketing associate -- have separate folders for each.
If you may move for your job, label a third folder for the location. For example, "Geography-New York" or "Geography-Amsterdam." File information about cities in these folders: cost-of-living articles, the flavor of different neighborhoods, and so on. You'll need this kind of information to negotiate your starting salary and decide where to move.
Use files to track opportunities and companies.
Your most important folders will be named for companies. Collect information about the company’s background, current news stories, notes from your talks with company employees, and so on. These files help you choose a company, ask good questions at your interview, and show you’ve done your research.
Use files to track your process.
In addition to reference folders, you'll use folders to track the job-hunt process. Create folders labeled "Contacts," "Opportunities," "Applications," "Interviews," "Offers," and "Negotiation." Each folder is one step in landing a job with a particular company.
When you meet someone new, write his or her name at the top of a document, along with the company they work for. Put the document in the Contacts folder. This is your new tracking silp. Whenever you contact the person, jot notes about what you said and what follow-up you need to do.
When you know there's an opportunity at that company, create a document dedicated to it for the Opportunities folder. If you then apply for a job, move it into Applications. When you have an interview scheduled, the paper goes into the Interviews folder; when an offer gets made, it goes into the Offer folder; and its last stop is the Negotiation folder.
These folders are your daily agenda. Review them and follow up with each opportunity. Start with the Negotiation folder. Then follow up through Offer, Interviews, Applications, and Opportunities. Finally, review the Contacts folder and touch base again with anyone you're just getting to know who you would like to keep in touch with for your search.
As your job hunt progresses, move the tracking sheet through the tracking folders. Put your detailed information into the Company, Geography, Industry, or Job Function folders, as appropriate. When you have files set up to track your reference material and your process, you can put your mind on your job search, confident that all the tracking will work out just fine.
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