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Job Searching? 4 Steps To Take Before Diving In

If you are ready to make a career move, you might be eager to start your search. While it can be tempting to dive right in, taking the extra time to set goals and get organized is well worth the effort. After all, failing to prepare sufficiently can only leave room for embarrassing and unprofessional mistakes.

Submitting an outdated resume, applying to the wrong job, forgetting which jobs you applied to, and being caught off-guard when you do get a call, are just a few faux pas that can hurt your job prospects. To avoid this, it’s important to get organized before you start applying. In the end, this will help you stay focused on the main task at hand—to land a position that aligns with your values and overall career goals.

Here’s how to organize your job search:

Update your resume

Setting aside an hour to bring your resume up-to-date is not only a great way to ease into the job search process, but also identify the types of roles you’d want to apply to. In today’s candidate-driven market, there can be an overwhelming number of open jobs—making it easy to become distracted by positions that ultimately aren’t the right fit for you. Ensuring your resume is current before you start searching allows you to keep your goals top of mind. Whether this involves developing a new skill or gaining experience in a different industry, this refreshed resume can help determine how to organize your job search. Read also: 5 Resume Tips And Tricks To Get You Hired.

Develop a strategy (and stick to it)

In today’s candidate-driven job market, it’s all too easy to open a search engine, apply to a few positions, and passively wait to hear back. Then, you might find yourself starting the process with an entirely new batch of jobs in a couple of weeks.

If you are serious about finding a new job, being this casual about your search can actually prolong the process. With that said, it’s important to set goals to speed up the process—and make sure you don’t miss any opportunities along the way. To do this, it’s a good idea to set aside a certain time each day (or week) to browse job forums, apply, and network. To stay on track, consider setting goals for each of these sessions. Whether that means applying to a specified number of jobs each day or reaching out to a set number of contacts per week, learning how to organize your job search in this way will keep you working more efficiently.

Keep a master list

To be as organized as possible, create a spreadsheet that contains a row for each job you apply for. It should be as detailed as possible, including columns for:

  • The date you applied
  • The company
  • The contact
  • The position
  • How you applied (email, job board, etc.)
  • Interview date
  • Interviewer(s)
  • Next steps
  • Current status of application

It may also be helpful to create separate tabs for open, pending, and closed applications. Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets are wonderful tools for this because they make it easy to move rows around and reorganize them based on the information you are looking for. For instance, you can sort your list by company to ensure you don’t accidentally apply for the same position twice.

Organize your emails

Once you start receiving responses to your applications, organize them into email folders. Keeping your email organized in a similar fashion to your spreadsheet is your best bet for preventing clutter and staying up-to-date on your progress. Should you arrange your spreadsheet into “Open”, “Pending”, and “Closed” tabs, do the same for your email. It will be much easier to stay organized if you remove all of the emails from your inbox that are no longer relevant and store them in your “Closed” folder. The “Open” and “Pending” folders will help you keep track of which applications have yet to receive a response and which have.

Finally, be prepared for calls! They can come at any time of day and seeming unprepared—or worse, that you have forgotten you applied to the position—is unprofessional. It’s easy to lose track, so ensure your spreadsheet is always up-to-date and your email is easily accessible. You’ll never be caught off-guard!

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