Organize Your Job Search

I was recently invited to speak at a network meeting for job seekers at a local parish. While I’m an expert on organizing, my husband is really the experienced one with job searching. He was out of work for 10 months last year and each day he was busy working his system. Thank God it paid off eventually.  So I picked his brain and presented these tips:

General Tips:

CREATE A ROUTINE FOR YOURSELF-  There is comfort in routines. In stressful times, if you have a routine then you don’t have to think too much, just DO. Too much time to think can lead to negative thoughts.  Keep busy & productive. Maybe even throw in time for something you’ve been meaning to do. Work when you are at your best.

START WITH A GOOD LIST(S)

  • Industry experience – what industries have you worked in? Where would you like to work?
  • Job experience – what specific jobs have you held? The broader the better. What jobs would you like to do? (maybe your experience here has been on a volunteer basis)
  • People Connections – who do you know who has a job you would like to do? Who is still in your industry?

KEEP A NOTEBOOK WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES. Ideas come at all different times:  while you’re driving, before you go to bed, when you’re out talking to people.

The Process:

This process if for using on-line search engines such as:  Career Builders & Monster, The Ladder (for exec jobs), other specific sites for government jobs, academia, health care, etc.

  1. Set up multiple searches using key words like job titles, industries, software experience. Be inclusive rather than exclusive. [i.e. not just accounting jobs in Telecommunications Industry, but all accounting & all telecom jobs]
  2. Set each specific search to hit your email once a week.
  3. Browse the search engines once a week. Look at new postings for jobs that may have missed your search criteria.
  4. If there are companies where you would like to work:  search their job postings every 2 weeks.
  5. This is less “routine” but equally as important:  Phone networking and face to face networking.  If things are slow, take an old colleague out to lunch or go to their company’s happy hour, or networking event.  Go to your reunions, chat with friends on line.
  6. Apply to the jobs that interest you.
  7. Keep a log in excel w/columns for: search engine, job title, date, progress, names, direct emails, notes.
  8. If you know the name of the company, look at their website & research. Ask around if anyone you know works there or has a connection there.
  9. Adapt versions of your resume to meet the job criteria (use specific key words because these will pass the screening process).  Make it succinct, catch their interest, don’t tell your whole story
  10. Adapt versions of your cover letter and always include one, even though it might not get looked at on the first pass. Format: Greeting, bullet section, closing. Change the bullet section to fit the job.
  11. Follow up 2 weeks after applying. Call HR department or send a follow up email or letter. Check the company website for a contact name.
  12. At the interview: Dress appropriately, bring a copy of your resume, ask when they plan to do the next round of interviews and how they will notify you.
  13. Follow up with a thank you note or email the next day.  Differentiate yourself.  Say you are very interested in the job, reconfirm the time frame.
  14. Call if the time frame has passed and you haven’t heard anything.
  15. If your leads are stale, go back to the searches you set up and tweak them with new key words, new industries, etc.

Finally, give yourself time. Know that you are not alone. Unemployment is unfortunately common these days. If you are married, talk with your spouse about a plan B, and maybe a plan C.  Think it through: “If I don’t have a job by this date, I will go get a part time job. OR We may need to move OR I may have to change fields.” Whatever it is that you believe is your next step. You need to talk about it and plan. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Please comment with any tips you have used to organize your job search!