The idea of recordkeeping may sound unnecessary, mundane, or just plain tedious, but it’s a helpful part of the job search process. It’s no secret that the current economy is tough and some job seekers find themselves sending out a large number of resumes before being invited to interview. How are you documenting your efforts?
The numbers vary depending on your industry and location, but keeping track of your applications is crucial. Setting up a system you can customize is helpful, and there are a lot of formats to choose from ranging from simple to complex, print to web-based.
Select a Format
Create a system that makes sense for you – one that’s easy to access and update, so you’ll continue to maintain it as you apply for jobs and expand your professional network. Here are a few options to help you get started:
- Fontbonne University’s guide to job search recordkeeping [PDF] recommends using a basic document and offers samples to capture information for each application or networking contact.
- Microsoft Office provides downloadable job search templates including options for a job search log in Excel and a job application tracker for OneNote.
- BrandKit’s Job Search Tracker template is designed for use in Google Drive. Click on “use this template” while logged in to your Google account to create a new copy for your use.
- JibberJobber is an online system that allows you to search for openings and track the ones you apply for when you register for a free account.
Choosing a central location is best, whether it’s a notebook by your desk or a computer file. Use one of these formats as a starting point to create your own approach using the technology that meets your needs.
What do you need to track?
No matter your preferred format, the details of your recordkeeping should include the following:
- Job title and company: Make a few notes about the specific company or office, and type of work or industry, especially if your search is a broad one including multiple fields.
- Copy of the advertisement or job description: Consider printing (or copy/paste) any online announcement into your filing system. Links may disappear after the date for applications passes, and this information will be a helpful starting point if you get called back for an interview.
- Date and type of submission: Document when and where you applied, whether it was via online form, email with attachments, or printed materials sent through the mail.
- Materials sent: Hopefully you target your resume for each employer. Track the version you send to each one, as well as your cover letter and any other requested items like transcripts, letters of recommendation, reference lists, and work samples.
- Source: How did you find out about the position? Add details related to referrals, online job boards, company websites, recruiters, and other kinds of advertisements.
- Contact information: Organize addresses, email, and phone numbers for anyone you are in contact with throughout the application process, from initial resume submission to follow-up calls and messages.
- Progress: Track your actions and the results of each application. Did you receive a confirmation email, request for more information, or invitation to interview? Did you follow-up to find out more about the position, check-in on your application, and send a thank you note after your interview?
Collect the information that helps you the most in your job search. What additional details would you add to this list?
For those receiving unemployment benefits, keeping track of job applications is often a requirement. But this process can be useful for anyone looking for the next career opportunity. Make recordkeeping a habit to:
- Serve as a quick reference when you get a call back. Time may have passed since you submitted the application. Will you remember what you applied for?
- Avoid duplication. Sending multiple applications for a single position, or applying for multiple positions within a single company could send the signal that you are unorganized and unfocused.
- Document your initiative. Your tracking system is evidence that you are moving forward, and can serve as a source of motivation when it seems like you aren’t making any progress.
- Identify trends and patterns. Are you getting more responses from jobs posted to a particular site, or from a specific version of your resume? Job-Hunt.org advises that “tracking your job search efforts will help you separate what is working from what is not working, so that you can improve your job search skills and land that next job.”
Remember to revisit your notes on a regular basis to both update them with the latest information and review for new tasks. Your recordkeeping efforts should help you to determine the next step for each application.
Image credit: Daniel Y. Go, Flickr, CC:BY-NC