How do I keep a job search organized?
May 29, 2012 3:30 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep a job search organized?

I'm looking for a job. For the first time, really. I'm transitioning out of academia, so although I've found academic jobs before the process is totally different.

And it seems like keeping things organized in the job application process is tricky. There are various web sites where jobs are posted (and the listings overlap), friends of mine have sent me links directly to jobs that might be of interest of me at their companies, and so on. For each application I'll need to know what version of my resume I sent them, if I have any contacts there, and so on.

So what are your best practices for keeping all this organized, so that I remember where I applied and what I sent to each of them and so on? I find nothing more frustrating than knowing "oh shit, this is somewhere on my hard drive but I can't find it", so I'd like to spend a minimum of time in that situation.

If I'm doing this all wrong, please be gentle. I'm kind of a mess right now, because job searching is scary; constructive criticism is valued but calling me an idiot is not.
posted by madcaptenor to Work & Money (9 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Assuming 99% of this is happening via email and web form submissions...

1. tag everything in Gmail or whatever you use as job related to make it easy to skim the job emails later.

2. Use a CRM (the free versions of Zoho or Highrise are fine) to track ongoing conversations with anybody that actually progresses beyond the initial contact.

That's all I did. It worked fine. I didn't worry about stuff on my hard drive because anything I sent to somebody was in Gmail and easier to find there.
posted by COD at 3:40 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know if other people do this, but I copy/paste the ad into an email (gmail) to myself, and then add notes at the top, and attach my resume to it. If I hear back, or have something else to note, I reply to myself with that same email. Then I put all of them in a folder just for those emails.

What I like about my system is it is dead-simple, and the gmail search capabilities allow me to find any note to myself right away, from anywhere.
posted by Houstonian at 3:41 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think a spreadsheet, such as one in Google Docs so you can access it at home and on the go, would do the job pretty well. You could set up columns like:
Job Title - Company - Link - Application Date - Directory (location on your hard drive) - Followup Date - Followup Info (like who followed up with whom and what came of it) - Interview1 Date - etc

Each job is a new row, and each row is black type unless an action occurred: Gray if the job is no longer available, red if "this place was awful and you can't pay me enough to work here," green if you're in serious running to get the job.

When needed, you could sort the spreadsheet by the appropriate column (like Application Date) to see the oldest or newest jobs first.

There are probably way fancier ways to do this--apps and whatnot--but an old-fashioned spreadsheet would be my first choice. (On preview, Houstonian's way is great too.)
posted by dayintoday at 3:42 PM on May 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

I had a few folders on my desktop where I stored cover letters - each folder corresponded to a version of my resume so I would know which resume I had sent with it.

I usually used the organization name as the file name, but that is not without some kinks because there were places where I applied to more than one position.

If you will be customizing your resume for each position, you could just combine the resume/cover letter into one file.
posted by fromageball at 3:43 PM on May 29, 2012

I just made a spreadsheet called "Job Search" and gave each job a row with title, a summarized job description, when I sent what materials, and any follow-up (I ended up with a few columns named "Update #1", "Update #2" and "Update #3"). If things progressed past the sending in materials stage, I highlighted the row in some way so I could find it faster on a visual search. Periodically I would glance through the whole spreadsheet to see if I should/needed to follow up on anything.

Worked fine for me.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:46 PM on May 29, 2012

I had a spreadsheet as described by dayintoday in Google Docs. In another tab, I had a list of non-job-specific contacts - people I sent my resume to for them to look at and/or forward on, that wasn't in response to a specific job. I also had a word processor doc where I copied and pasted the text of ads. This was helpful because I would often be in the process of application and the ad would be taken down.

I have a relevant skills/experience section at the top of my resume that I would customize for every job. I would put everything that matched their requirements in bullets up there, so this would change from position to position. I had a "shell" resume with the empty section, and a document of all my bullet points (my degree, different types of experience, skills, etc.). I could just copy and paste the relevant bullets into that section, using the job posting a as guide to what to include. I would often do a little customizing in the body of the resume. Saved a lot of time in customizing to each position. I also had a generic resume for just sending to contacts.

Each customized resume was named with FI Lastname and an acronym related to the company and job. For example, if I was applying to a widget polisher job at Awesome Widgets Corp, the filename for my resume would be "Q Jeoc WPAWC." Using my name in the filename also might make it easier for those doing the hiring to keep their docs straight.

If my job search had gone on much longer (it was pretty fast - about a month), I would have come up with a better CRM solution. My spreadsheet was working well for the jobs, but not for just contacts.
posted by jeoc at 4:01 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend this website: Here you can log in all jobs you applied for, all companies, all communications with the companies, interview date, versions of your resume ect. It really helped me stay organized. Free membership is good enough.
posted by akomom at 5:40 PM on May 29, 2012

I would keep notes in Evernote.
posted by Silvertree at 8:07 AM on May 30, 2012

Response by poster: The spreadsheet seems to be working, although I haven't actually started sending out applications yet -- I've been compiling listings so I can take some words from them and stick them in various versions of my resume.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:48 PM on June 1, 2012

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