During his job search, I coached David, an unemployed senior banker, and learned a lot about high-performance athletes. He is a very competitive marathon runner and he showed me how he documented a rigorous training regimen. David tracked each workout, recorded what he ate for every meal, and noted how he adjusted his goals. Yet David had no plan or preparation for his job search.
When Susan, a pharmaceutical sales representative, showed me her list of opportunities she had applied for, it was scribbled on various yellow sticky notes with random bits of information, sometimes with the company name, rarely with the title and name of the contact, and no dates. It was a mess. She couldn’t highlight the ones that were still active opportunities versus the ones that just died due to inactivity. There were some she needed to follow up on, but she couldn’t remember which ones.
Michael was reorganized out of a job and had been looking for a new position for six months. He had a family, rent, and expenses and had been in what he called fulltime job search mode. He believed he had done everything right because he had applied to over 50 jobs and had a good résumé. But Michael had been through five interviews and had not landed a job offer. So I sat down with him and asked him to show me his progress. I was looking forward to seeing someone who was organized around the single most important thing in his life right now: his job search.
Like most job seekers, Michael did not have everything in one place… anywhere. Not in a binder, in a shoe box, or on a computer. He started to tell me about this company and that one and, “Gee, I thought I was going to get this one.”
I asked him to show me what he had been submitting to each job application and he handed me his résumé. How about an example of a cover letter? How about a follow-up letter if you have the email address of a hiring manager? Michael admitted, sheepishly, that he did not follow up on any applications and he didn’t do cover letters. He thought that the companies he was applying to were obligated to get back to him with some closure or some form of acceptance or rejection letter.
Does that sound like your job search? Stop. Get your job search notebook or technology in order.
Will you be using a PC? Or are you more comfortable with a binder with pages that you will handwrite on? Or a combination: using a PC, then printing out and inserting pages into a binder so you can find them at any time. You decide.
Tips for choosing the best solution for you:
- DO pick something that you can carry around with you (laptop, USB drive for a borrowed or library PC, binder). That way, you can work on it during any free time you have.
- DON’T scribble on small pieces of paper, like yellow sticky notes, and throw them in a folder.
- DO make it simple for you.
- DON’T start something you won’t use.
- DO prepare to be disciplined. If you don’t build your organization tools, you are not committed to your job search.
Add a comment here as I would like to hear your questions, challenges or reaction!