I have been talking to various people who are in the process of securing a new role, whether that be because of compulsory redundancy (like me at the time of writing) or for other reasons. One of the challenges that I hear about quite frequently is job search record keeping. Whether it’s for your own benefit or you need to maintain records for your insurance company or for the Job Centre having an organised approach is essential. I thought that I would share how I have approached it and hopefully you will be able to adapt it to suit your needs.
Today, a mid-level manager or professionals can often spend six months or more searching for a job. Needless to say it is a more complicated business than sending out CVs. The individual actions may be simple, but the job searcher faces an extraordinary volume of information and must manage multiple applications simultaneously. It is therefore critical to keep all this data organised in order to avoid getting bogged down. This is where good job search record keeping comes in. A good record keeping system allows you to stay motivated and focused on your ultimate goal, while avoiding mistakes and confusion.
The Job Search Record Keeping System
It is possible to keep job search records in many different ways. You can do it on the computer as I do, in traditional filing systems, or with a large binder. As the binder method is simple to implement and easily portable, that is what we will cover here. Nevertheless these suggestions can easily be adapted to other methods and in fact replicate what I do on the computer.
Section: Your Job Target and Career Aims
Your filing system should start off with a clear statement of your current target job. It is a good idea to have a separate section in the binder for this, marked off with a tab divider sheet.
Also include in this section any personal branding statements, recent assessments you have completed, and reference articles on your target career.
Section: Personal Marketing Documents
This section, again delineated by a tabbed divider, should hold master copies of your biography, CV/Resume, job search correspondence, references list, personal salary history, and other documents you use in your job search. Also include in this section any letters of reference which you have, educational certificates, awards, or other documents which demonstrate your qualifications.
Section: Industry and Company Research
Here you can keep research articles and other information on the companies which you would be interested in working for or that you are planning to target. If you have collected data on industry trends and the like which is relevant to these firms, include it here also.
Section: Job Listings
Though you will want to keep a more detailed log of activity elsewhere, this section should hold copies of each ad you’ve answered. With each ad, include notes on the date you responded to the ad as well as documents which you sent over.
Section: Internet Job Search Data
Internet job searches often involve juggling many different websites. Keep records here of which sites you are using, where you’ve posted your CVs, as well as the logins and passwords to the sites.
Section: Referrals and Networking
In this section, keep hard-copy printouts of your personal “networking address book” for easy reference. You can and should note down any information about the individuals in question which is worth remembering.
Section: Agencies and Recruiters
If you are like many professionals, you will have some contact with job search agencies and headhunters. Keep notes about the ones you contact here.
Section: Interview Preparation
As you prepare for interviews, you’ll accumulate notes on what to say and do, as well as questions you’d like to ask employers. Collect them in this section. You can also include notes about past interviews, so you have all your interview-related data in one place for easy later review.
Section: Salary Research
This section holds the research and data you collect in order to determine your own “fair market value” as a job candidate, such as salary surveys in your industry. The data here will be very important when it comes to salary negotiations after you have a job offer.
Your job search record keeping binder or folders on your computer let you have one central place to store all the data pertaining to your job search in a single place. By keeping an up-to-date and accurate records of your activities and contacts, you’ll find your job search goes faster and produces better results. You always know where your attention should be focused and what your next task should be.
The other side of all this is that you must avoid getting bogged down in excessive record keeping. It’s important to take an organised and systematic approach to your job search, but it’s even more important to get started on it. You should never let the lack of a “perfect system” stop you from beginning the search. If you find establishing your system takes more than a few days, leave it and start looking for work. Your system will establish itself as you do so, based on the actual needs of your search at the time.