I don’t know many people who actually enjoy looking for a job (me included), but at some point in our lives, we all have to. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average unemployed person spends more than eight months looking for work. The economy and job market can affect this time-frame, increasing or decreasing it, but so can another important factor—being unorganized.
The say looking for a job is a full-time job. Well, like any type of work, being unorganized can prolong your workday and make it that much more difficult to complete tasks. If your desk is messy it may be hard to locate the files you need. If you don’t use a calendar or scheduling tool, you may be cramped for time as your tasks and meetings run together.
So, to avoid making your job search any longer (or stressful) than necessary, I have outlined six ways to get organized:
Think about your short and long term goals in relation to this job search. What date would you like to have a job by (e.g. in x amount of months)? How many jobs do you want to apply for per day/week? What is the best time for you to apply for jobs during the day? As you answer these questions you will begin to formulate your job-search plan because 1) you’ll have your end goals setup 2) you will have your target ‘applying goal’ in place and 3) a routine for when and how much time you spend applying for job will be established. Planning is the first step to becoming organized.
Look up the industry or industries you want to enter and the types of jobs you’d like to apply for. Create a list of possible occupations and their degree and/or skills requirements. This will help when you start searching for jobs because you will have some background knowledge on various roles and can eliminate the time you spend reading job ads you’re unsure about. For example, perhaps you want to enter the PR field and come across a marketing associate position. If you have prior background knowledge of what a marketing associate does, you would know that this role is not the press-release writing/written communication role you’re looking for. Then you won’t waste time reading the job description.
Conducting research prior to your job search will also help you discover new career choices you may not have known about.
Update your cover letters and resumes to the present day (or your last occupation). Be sure to keep both documents general until you’re ready to apply for jobs. As you apply for various positions, you can personalize your cover letter and resume. Also, be sure to have these documents ready in an electronic form, and update your LinkedIn profile as it is its own type of resume.
Look for jobs on job boards, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes we encounter so many jobs, but don’t have enough time in the day to apply for them all. Online job distribution service ZipRecruiter offers a “save jobs” feature to help job seekers stay organized. As you look for jobs on the site, you can save them by clicking the star icon next to each job post. By going under the “Saved Jobs Tab” you will see a list of all the jobs you’ve saved, making it easy to go back and apply.
Make sure you regularly track progress to see if you’re applying for enough jobs. You want to look back at your job search plan to evaluate whether or not you’re meeting your targets. If not, this could show you that you need to be more diligent in your job search or perhaps the industry you’re looking to enter doesn’t have many job openings and it may be time to reconsider.
When on the job hunt it’s important to stay optimistic. Hearing the national unemployment and news after news on the bleak job market can easily distract you. Persevere and stay focused on your end goal in order to one day be successful.