The Foundation of a Fast, Successful Job Search: Organizing
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to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average length of unemployment
is about 18 weeks. But this statistic accounts for all industries,
sectors, and professional levels. While you may be one of
the lucky few, other statistics indicate that the average
job search for a professional or mid-manager can take six
months (25-26 weeks) or more. Of course, if you are changing
careers, your job search may be even longer. And if you
are currently employed, your search will often take longer
simply because you have less time to devote to it.
Clearly, for most professionals, the days of just going
through the Sunday paper and sending out a few resumes is
over. Today, conducting a multi-pronged search is critical.
While the individual techniques and tactics of job searching
are relatively simple, there are multiple steps you have
to take, often simultaneously, and you will be dealing with
massive amounts of information. Unless you find a way to
keep this information organized in an easily maintained
and managed system, you can quickly become overwhelmed,
bogged down, and confused. If you let yourself get caught
up in the details, you can easily lose sight of the big
picture and lose momentum. An organized plan and system
will help keep you motivated, moving forward, and focused
on achieving the ultimate goal.
In this excerpt from "Secrets of a Successful Job Search:
7 Simple Steps to Land the Job You Want in Half the Time,"
I will describe a simple, easy-to-maintain system that you
can begin using today to immediately improve the efficiency
and productivity of your job search.
The 4 Major Job Search Phases
In the overall job search process, there are essentially
four key phases:
1) Option evaluation, goal setting & campaign planning
2) Job search & follow-up campaign
3) Job offers & negotiations
4) Accept and begin new job
At the start of your search, it is essential to create a
system to schedule, track, and log all of your activities
for the first three phases. At the very least, you need
a calendaring system, a system of logging inter-related
and follow-up activities, a contact management system, and
a filing system.
The foundation of your organizational system will be your
filing system. It is possible to do this on your computer,
to use a traditional filing method, or to use a large three-ring
Because it allows you to physically
pick it up and carry it with you anywhere, I actually prefer
the three-ring binder method, so that is what I will describe
in this article. But if you prefer one of the other methods,
just adapt these suggestions accordingly. Before you go
any further, I suggest going out and buying a large three-ring
binder right now. A large-capacity one like a 4 or 5 inch
will be easiest. You will also need some tab sheets to label
the sections. Some hole-punched pocket sheets that allow
you to store loose sheets of paper and computer disks would
also be really helpful. Now you will want to use the tabs
to create 9 categories:
1) Career Vision & Job Target
Begin your filing system by including a very clear written
statement of your current job target in a divided section
named "Career Vision & Job Target." You should also include
a written copy of your Personal Branding Statement. In this
same binder, you can keep copies of any assessments you
may have completed recently or in the past, to help you
in setting your career goals. This is also the place where
you will want to keep references, printouts, or copies of
any industry or profession-related articles or research
related to your job target.
2) Career Marketing Documents
In this section, store clean master copies of your resume,
biography, all job search letters and correspondence, a
list of references, a salary history, and any other documents
that you might use in your search. This is also a good place
to keep letters of reference written for you by others,
copies of awards, educational transcripts, training certificates,
and any other documents supporting and proving your qualifications.
3) Company & Industry Research
This section is a great place to keep printouts or copies of
any articles or other research that you have collected on
companies that interest you and that you have targeted or
plan to target during your search. This is also a good place
to store research on industry trends and competitive data
of relevance to these companies.
4) Job Advertisements
While you should keep more detailed activity logs elsewhere,
in the Job Advertisements section of your filing binder,
you should keep a copy of every ad you have answered along
with some basic notes about the date you responded and the
documents that you sent.
5) Internet Job Searching
The Internet Job Searching section is a perfect place to
keep records of the websites you are using in your job search,
places where you have posted your resume, and any passwords
and user names associated with the sites.
6) Networking & Referrals
Again, you should keep more thorough records and logs elsewhere,
but the Networking and Referrals section is a good place
to keep a hard-copy printout of your networking address
book along with any notes of information you want to remember
in relation to particular individuals.
7) Recruiters & Agencies
In the recruiters and agencies section, you should keep
detailed notes about every headhunter firm or job search
agency you have worked with or contacted.
8) Interview Preparation
The interview preparation section can be used to keep all
of the notes you will accumulate as you prepare for interviews.
This is also a good place to keep notes on questions you
want to ask during interviews and notes about interviews
you have been on.
9) Salary Research
In the Salary Research section, you can keep data and research
you have collected to help you define your own market value
and to prepare for salary negotiations once you have been
offered a job.
In short, this binder gives you the ability to store all
of the documentation related to your job search in one central
place. Keeping accurate, up-to-date records of your job
search activities, logs of contacts you have made, and step-by-step,
calendared plans of the activities you must complete in
order to reach your job search goals will pay you back for
your effort multiple times over through a faster and more
successful job search. By creating a plan and system for
your job search, you will always know where to focus your
attention and what you should be doing next.
But remember, while this step of getting organized and creating
your job search system is a critically important one, you
must remember to NOT get bogged down. It is important to
be organized but it is also critical that you get started
on your search. Don't let not having a perfect system prevent
you from moving forward. At the most, spend just a couple
of days establishing your organizational system.
Nationally certified resume
writer and career marketing expert, Michelle Dumas
is the director of Distinctive Career Services LLC. Through
Distinctive Documents http://www.distinctiveweb.com and her
Executive VIP Services http://www.100kcareermarketing.com
Michelle has empowered thousands of professionals all across
the U.S. and worldwide. Michelle is also the author of Secrets
of a Successful Job Search http://www.job-search-secrets.com
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