STAYING organised during a job search does not sound difficult; after all, finding a new position is the most important thing on your mind right now and you are hardly likely to forget where you have sent your
resumés.

Actually, with most job searches nowadays lasting months rather than weeks, unless you happen to be blessed with a photographic memory, the chances of you remembering every last detail are remote.

And if you do happen to lose track of your job search activities, the result can be chaos, confusion and embarrassment.

For anyone who is unemployed in Singapore, the accepted advice is that a job search should be treated like a full-time job. Hours of job search activity, five days a week, soon adds up to a lot of information being exchanged — and potential for confusion.

Even if you currently have a job and are seeking an alternative position, mentally trying to keep track of your search status can quickly become impossible, especially when you bear in mind that some employers’ recruitment processes can drag on for months.

Even without the inevitable delays and potential for duplication during a job search, you still have to remember which important companies to research, and what follow-up to do in an appropriate way, with the appropriate person, at the appropriate time.

Measuring effectiveness

A final, but again important reason for recording and tracking the activities of your job search has to do with measuring effectiveness.

When you use a variety of job search techniques such as networking, responding to newspaper advertisements, applying via online job boards, attending job fairs and so on, it can be difficult to assess — using gut feeling alone — how effective each method has been over a period of time.

Clearly, your objective should be to put the greatest amount of time and energy into those activities that are most likely to meet with success.

But if you can’t see, for example, where applications or activities are disappearing, chances are you will end up wasting your efforts and just continue to do the same unproductive things over and over again.

Tracking tips

So, how will you go about recording all of this vital information and keep your job search on track? Although you can keep hand-written records of your job search activities, it is better to rely predominantly on computer records.

This can be complimented with a few hand-written reminders of upcoming events and activities in a diary and on to-do lists you can keep on hand wherever you are.

Aside from being able to cope with the quantity of data, the other benefit of using commercial job tracking software or Excel spreadsheets is that the data can quickly be sorted, for example, by company name or the date of your next actions, rather than having to go through reams of paperwork.

One of the simplest, ready-made systems for keeping track of a job search is one that most people already have on their computers, namely the Job Search Log, which can be found among the Microsoft Excel templates.

With separate tabs for Resumé Submissions, Networking Contacts, Interviews and Career Websites, the headings on each of the spreadsheets are customisable so you can change them to suit you, though in most cases you should just be able to open up the template and get going.

If you use Microsoft Excel 2007, open the application, click on the Office Button in the top left-hand corner of the screen, select New and then type the words “Job Search” into the search field at the top of the centre section of the dialogue box.

When the Job Search Log appears as an option, simply click on Download and then save the document to your desired location using whatever file name you choose.  In addition to the Job Search Log, Excel also provides a Job Application Log template that can be found by entering “Job Application” into the search field rather than “Job Search”.

Although a simpler, less detailed document, this one provides drop-down boxes for ease of sorting the information that you input. There are also some online tools you can use, such as JibberJobber.

Whichever method you prefer to keep track of your activities during your job search, record all of the details right from the start. Staying organised will keep you on top of things and better prepared for the opportunities that will come your way.

Article by Julia Hingley, an associate writer with Sandbox Advisors, a firm that helps people with careers, job search and training in Singapore. For more information, visit www.sandboxadvisors.com