Come on, job seekers! If you are not organized and prepared to job search, then your odds of success diminish dramatically. Here are the bad things that can happen: You’ll miss a follow-up opportunity, you’ll forget to apply to a job you saw, you’ll fail at sending a thank you note in a timely manner, and, worse, you’ll bomb in an interview. Only the most focused, committed, active and organized job seekers are winning jobs today.
Many of you get organized for other things: homework and tests in college, projects at work, and logistics for a vacation. But why is the job search any different? After meeting tens of hundreds of job-seekers, the first thing I ask them is “Where is your plan and job search tracking?” I don’t care if it’s on paper or in the computer, without a demonstration of being organized to search, I don’t believe they are truly committed. The smartest thing you can do in your job search is treating the hunt for work as a job.
There are a number of organization tools you need, but I prefer Microsoft Outlook Calendar. It can reside on your PC, your mobile device, shared with others. Plus, it connects to Outlook Tasks and Contacts so all of the information you need is in one application.
A 3-Week Calendar Plan – and a Calendar Tool You Will Follow. My assumption is that you want a job sooner rather than later. The only way to get from here to there is to master the discipline around time management for your job search. Yes, you will hear “job search is a full time job” but not everybody has 40 hours a week free to search. Based on the time you do have…no, the time you MAKE, you need to schedule it out and follow a program. If your goal is to have a job in 2 months, then it is really important to complete the steps in your 21-day program to get you on that path.
Plan out what you will do with each hour in one-hour increments. This way, you will keep changing the activities, stay focused, and make huge progress within each hour. Some of the key activities by week:
Week One: Preparing to Job Search Do NOT apply to any jobs during this week.
1. Set your goal. Research the types of industries, companies, and functions you want to hunt for. Write everything down.
2. Refresh and improve your resume.
3. Build your Job Tracking tool where you will capture every move you make
4. IF you find job postings you want to apply for, log them on your Job Tracking tool and begin researching each company…do not apply yet.
5. Sending out formal networking e-mails to key contacts, communicating your specific job search goals.
Week Two: Preparing to Apply to Jobs
- Print 6 job descriptions you want to apply to. Do NOT apply.
- For each one, put the job description next to your resume and assess the skills and experiences you have that match with the job specifications called out. Write them down.
- Now, for each job, write a cover letter that will sit on top of your resume in the same Word/PDF file. Talk to the hiring manager in the letter…avoid the use of “I” too many times. The sole purpose of this cover letter is to outline “Mr. /Ms. Hiring Manager, you are looking for these skills and experiences, and this is why I’m the best candidate for your position.”
- Re-look at your resume and assess if you need to tailor it to each job. Often, when we read a job description, we remember skills and experiences we have yet they are not called out in the resume. Remove content in your resume that is not relevant to your skills and experiences.
- Meeting with key networking contacts, attending networking meetings, job fairs, industry events.
Week 3: Applying and Tracking Every Move for Follow Up
- Proof all documents, correcting typos, grammatical errors. Trick: read them out loud.
- Apply and log the date in your job tracking tool.
- Put a new date in your calendar to follow up on that opportunity.
- Send thank you notes to all contacts you have made, either via phone, meeting or at a networking event. If you applied to a position someone made you aware of, send them a special thank you and keep them updated on your progress.
In summary, you will see a direct correlation between how organized you are and the results you get. Cut the Crap, Get a Job! (pre-order my forthcoming book of the same title here)