Let's not kid ourselves -- the job search is laborious and overwhelming. There are so many moving pieces (i.e. keeping track of all the job postings, remembering when you applied, wondering if you've followed up, etc.) that it's imperative you stay on top of everything.
We mapped out the best way to organize your job search so that you are proactive, prepared, and persistent.
HOW TO: 3 ways for a higher return on your job hunt
Excel or Google Spreadsheets is your best friend. Start by creating a chart that clearly tracks every aspect of the application process, so you know exactly what to do next for each position to which you applied.
Label columns on your document with: Company, Job Title, Job Description, Point of Contact, Point of Contact Info, Notes, Application Date, Follow Up Date, and Follow Up Result.
Your chart should look something like this:
Pro Tip: When you have a long list of jobs you're working with, freeze the top row of labels so that as you scroll down you know what type of information you're looking at in each column.
Let's break down what goes in each of these columns.
This is self explanatory. Write down the company name.
What is the exact title you're applying to? Best practice: copy-and-paste from the job description so you get it right.
You want to be able to reference the job description at any time. Copy-and-paste the job description link here.
Point of Contact
Is there a specific person who will be reviewing all applications? If the job description doesn't say, do a little digging to see who is the senior level employee of the department you're applying to work in. This will be helpful in addressing your cover letter to the correct person and, later on, following up on your application.
Point of Contact Info
What did you find is the best way to reach the person above? Email? Phone number?
In your research of the company and role, what are key details that stood out?
This is the date you applied for the job.
Follow Up Date
This is the date you set for yourself to follow up on your application, especially if you haven't heard anything. If you need to, set reminders in your calendar that will alert you to do so. (You can also create another column that says "Follow Up Date #2" so you can track the first touch point and the second touch point.)
Follow Up Result
Create a variety of options to put in this column as possible results. Possible answers could include "No Response," "Phone Interview Scheduled," "In-Person Interview Scheduled," "Interview Complete," "No Offer." Consistency is key with this column because then you are able to make use of the filter function of Excel and easily see which positions you need to follow up with again.
Now your spreadsheet should look something like this:
The job application process can be daunting, especially when you're looking at dozens of opportunities. By tracking your job prospects in this form, you can more easily stay on top of your game, feel confident in the process, and land a job that makes you happy.
Sarah Sax is the founder of Write For The Job.