You’re fresh out of school, or fresh out of working somewhere else, and you’re desperate to find a job. That desperation turns into you blasting off your resume to anyone who is looking for a new employee. Sound familiar?
I know exactly how dizzying the experience is when you’re sending out resumes every day. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget where you’ve been applied. Until those interview requests start popping up in your inbox. During the hectic job hunt, it is important to stay organized so you make the most of every opportunity you get to connect with a potential employer.
Since I’ve been through this process a few times, I developed a few ways to keep myself on track.
Record every application you send
My dad always said, “Looking for a job is, in itself, a full-time job.” I took that to heart and spent most of my day looking for work and personalizing applications. I quickly realized I needed a system to keep track of all my pending applications.
When I applied for a job, I would make a note of it in my Notes desktop app. You could also do this in Microsoft Word or Excel. Or even a notebook.
I always included the following information:
- Date when the application was sent
- Job title
- Company name
- Job ad’s URL
As an example, this is what it would look like:
- October 24
- Social Media Coordinator
- Strategic Objectives
If I hear back from the employer and the hiring process begins, I continue to update my notes. In this fake scenario, I’ve been rejected and so my notes look like this:
- October 31 – Phone interview
- November 3 – 1st round in-person interview
- November 10 – Rejection notice
- HR contact: email@example.com
- Feedback: They selected a candidate with more relevant experience
I know you’re wondering why you need to keep notes on all your rejections (what a bummer). But these notes are helpful for a few reasons:
- A timeline gives you a better understanding of how quickly, or slowly, the employer will reach out as you go through multiple rounds. It also gives you an overall sense of the pace of the job hunt, which can last months. This kind of clarity will keep you sane as you spend weeks waiting to hear back.
- If six months from now another job from that employer goes up, you have notes on who works in the HR department, why you didn’t receive an offer and anything else you need to contextualize your situation if you reach out to the employer again.
- The job you applied to could be reposted and your notes will help you remember you already applied. You don’t want to reapply, as it won’t help your chances.
This process should just serve as inspiration. I encourage you to organize your notes in a way that works best for you and include any information that you deem necessary.
Have the right resume handy
The golden rule: do not apply to every job with the same resume. It’s tempting, but it does you zero favours. Focus on different skills and professional experiences when tailoring your resume.
After doing this, you’re going to have a bunch of resumes floating around on your desktop. That is confusing, especially if you’re mass applying and can’t remember which resume you used for which job.
I have a main folder on my desktop called “Job Search” and inside I have individual folders for every company I’ve applied to. Inside those folders, I have my individualized resume and cover letter documents, as well as any assignments I’ve been asked to complete during the hiring process.
You’ll want this resume ready by your side when you’re doing a phone interview or have it handy to print it out for in-person interviews. The employer will likely refer to things that are specifically mentioned in your resume and heck, you may not remember what you’ve written!
Lean on the glory of smartphones
As soon as you’ve booked an interview, put it into your smartphone calendar. Set an alarm that will send you timed reminders. Enter the location into your calendar as well. Add any additional information given to you by the HR rep about how to find the office and how to check-in. I personally prefer to use Google Calenders, because it’s synced to all the Google platforms I use and it’s more customizable.
The last you want to do is be scrolling through your email, trying to find an address when you’ve got fifteen minutes to find the place after stepping off the subway. Keeping all the information you need in one phone application is much more efficient and organized.
I also prefer to prepare to figure out my commute days before my interview, instead of on the day of. I’ll even use Google Streetview to know exactly what the building looks like so I can spot it on my way there.
Last tip: bring along your notes about the company. You never know what kernel of information may help you stand out during the interview. Read these notes and any prepared questions you have during your commute.
Good luck with your search!