In the current economy, many people are under financial pressure to find work quickly. They often feel they cannot take the time to organize their job search.
However, creating an organized job search means less time looking for information and following dead-end leads. It generally takes anywhere from one to 12 months to find a long-term job, and getting organized from the beginning of the search will ultimately save you a lot of time and frustration.
Before actively beginning your search, you first need to identify your skills, interests, pay needs and target markets. You also need to identify, and find solutions for, issues that will affect the search and your future employment, such as child care and transportation needs.
Now that you are ready to start your search, there are three key areas where being organized will really benefit your search: your schedule, your work space and your database.
Create a schedule . Decide how much you can commit to a search, and create a daily or weekly calendar accordingly. Allow the proper amount of time for activities such as follow-up calls, finding new leads and sending out resumes and thank-you correspondence.
Keep in mind that certain times during the day might be better for specific activities such as making calls when your home is quiet or tackling some of the more stressful items first so they are out of the way. Map routes when driving to drop off resumes or making in-person cold calls to save time. Be sure to schedule time for yourself such as exercising or enjoying personal time to help avoid burn out and depression.
Stay on track. Between e-mails, company Web sites, print ads, and phone calls, there are a lot of ways to submit resumes and set up informational interviews.
It can also make it very complicated when managing your time and knowing where to focus your efforts. Keep a log of the actual time you spend on each activity so you can see and address any problem areas as you go along.
Not missing interviews and appointments is critical, so keep your calendar current and make it a habit to review and update your calendar at the end of each day. Organize your applications and follow-up activities to save extra steps and to keep the information available for unemployment insurance.
Define a work space. Just because you may be doing your job search from home does not mean it should be conducted from your couch or your bedroom. Treat your job search like a job by being organized and maintaining a level of professionalism.
Unless you already have a home office, identify an area in your home to set up your computer and manage your files. Think through all needed supplies and have them organized nearby.
Be sure you have a good chair that supports your back, a proper desk or surface space, telephone, calendar, and a job search log. Create an electronic or paper filing system to keep track of resume versions, job postings and correspondence.
The goal is to quickly get your hands on the information you need should you hear back from a prospective employer or land an interview.
Manage a database. You will be contacting and meeting lots of people during your search and will need a system to keep track of all your contacts. One solution is a card file system with a card for each contact, including the name, title, contact details, source of the leads, and dates and summaries of conversations. A binder system can also keep track of accumulated business cards but should be organized by categories such as leads and companies contacted. These cards are of no value to you if you are not able to find and use them quickly.
Use technology to your advantage, as it is an indispensable time management and organizational tool when searching for jobs and maintaining contacts. Microsoft Outlook, ACT! by Sage or other software programs can help keep track of contacts electronically.
For help writing resumes and cover letters, visit career sites like Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com and WinWay Resume, which can store database information that can merge with your cover letter.
Check out all career sites, including smaller ones like Craigslist and online versions of local papers. You can post your skills online also at places like craigslist.org to find a freelance job and through social networking sites such as LinkedIn. Jobsearchorganizer.com is another helpful online tool for keeping track of your job search.
A job search can feel overwhelming, but by organizing you schedule, work space and database effectively you will be able to keep on track and find your dream job more quickly.