Getting Organized in Your Job Search

Be professional about your job search. Organization will allow you to see progress, follow-up in a timely way and achieve success faster.

Use a database or spreadsheet. After you make that list of 80 people who can help you, set up a simple database (using ACT or Outlook, for example) or a spreadsheet (such as Excel). Create fields for first name, last name, company, work phone, cell or home phone, email address, activity date, notes, next contact date, and notes for that date. (If you don’t know Excel, this is a great chance to get help from a family member or friend in setting up the spreadsheet. You’ll be surprised how easy it is.)

If you are adept at the program, you can easily sort your list by any of these fields. You can quickly see which contacts you haven’t talked to in a while. Or, you can sort by “next date” and see what work you have to do today. As you continue networking, you may end up with several hundred names. If you are trying to remember a person or other detail, just resort the list by name, company, etc. and voila, you will remember.

Keep all your job websites in your “Favorites” file. As you visit,, etc., be sure to save all those sites in your list of “favorites” in your web browser. You might also create a spreadsheet with electronic site names. Have columns that indicate what version of your resume you posted there and the date. Then, go back and make minor changes every week or so. When you do, the site will accept your revisions as a “new” resume. This gets you noticed by those seeking “fresh” talent.

Create a directory of resumes and name each one. As you write or change your resume for different opportunities, be sure to name the new resume and put it in a resume directory. Then, if you get a similar lead, you can find the correct version quickly and use it again. Also, be sure the name of your resume includes your last name so that the person getting it will be able to find it quickly. For example, I might have these resumes – Jewell-Trainer, Jewell-Project Manager, Jewell-Marketer, Jewell-Career Coach. This same technique goes for cover letters and for lists of references. You might want to customize these for each opportunity, too.

Find reasons to communicate. Stay in touch with your contacts. Send individual emails asking for their opinion or advice. When you have a new cover letter, send it to your contacts individually and ask for their feedback. If you have an important interview scheduled, ask your contacts if they know someone inside that organization. Be sure to keep track of when you last had contact, and what the conversation was about. People will be astounded when you “remember” clearly a conversation that happened several months ago! Also, when you do get a job, your database will allow you to thank everyone who helped you and to easily share your good news.

Create a great thank-you note and save it. Your thank-you notes should be written by hand. They should also mention something that was said in the interview. You can use the same message over and over, with just these customizations. Type your message and save it on your computer so that writing the thank-you is easier. Address your thank-you note envelope, add a stamp, and take it with you to the interview. Then, write the note immediately and mail it on the way home. This technique never fails to impress. (You can write an email thank-you, but a hand-written note means more. Why not do both?)

Prepare your STAR stories. Go over your resume and think about your career. Prepare 5-7 STAR stories that highlight your ingenuity, your perseverance, your people skills or your keen knowledge of your field. These stories prove that you are who you claim to be. Each story should be just 60 seconds or less. Tell the S ituation, T actic or T hinking, A ctions you took and R esults. (If you would like to know more, ask for my fr*ee STAR Stories Guide by emailing [email protected]).

Getting control over the very chaotic process of job seeking will give you confidence. Think order, not perfection. Be kind and gentle with yourself.

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