29 Dec 2008
I am a pretty organized person. I also tend to be very efficient with computer — I’m always looking for the faster way to do things. Applying these qualities to my job search, I have perfected my process, and thought I’d share my “Top 8 tips for automating your job search”:
1. Tracking job applications
It is really important to track what jobs you have applied for. The three most important reasons that come to my head are: a) If you are contacted about a job, you will easily know where you originally found the job so can find the job description again, b) You may see the same job listed week after week, so it’s easy to go back to your list and see if you have applied for the job already, and c) Many headhunters will want to know if you have submitted your resume to a company they want to present you for.
The columns I have on my tracking spreadsheet are:
- How Heard (how I heard about the job)
- How Applied (monster, their website, email, etc.)
- Date Applied
- Contacts (people I know at the company)
As soon as I apply for a job, I fill in all columns. I can easily search for a company using CTRL+F if I want to see if I’ve applied to the job already. And, if I receive a “ding” notice (a rejection letter) from the company, I move them to the bottom of my spreadsheet in the “DEAD” category. Most companies don’t get back to you, but if they do, it helps to know the status.
2. Email address
I find it overwhelming to have all the job search emails coming into my regular email account, so I use a separate email address for any websites I register for related to my job search. Mentally, it’s easier to separate myself from my job search sometimes without the emails starting me in the face.
Download the Google toolbar for whatever browser you use. The feature “Autofill” allows you to enter standard contact information on web pages with the click of one button. When you’re applying for tons and tons of jobs online, having to retype your contact information can be a huge time waster. Autofill saves you all that time!
4. Networking list
I have been doing a lot of networking over the past few months. At first, I wasn’t very organized about it and kept people’s names in 10 different places. Finally, I got organized and put together a networking spreadsheet that has helped get everything together in one place and remind me who to follow up with (believe it or not, not everyone responds to you!).
The columns I have on my tracking spreadsheet are:
- Contact (my contact who sent me to this person)
- Emailed (date I emailed them)
- Follow-up (date I should follow up with them — see below for “Conditional Formatting“) – 10 days after the date I emailed them
- Met/Talked (date I met with or spoke to them)
- Processed notes (date I looked through and completed the followups from the notes from our discussion)
- TY note (date I wrote a thank you note)
- LinkedIn (date I connected with them on LinkedIn — only do this after I’ve spoken to the person)
- Entered contact info (put their contact info into my Outlook contact list)
- Thanked original person (emailed my original contact to let them know that I met their contact)
Once all the columns are completed for a person, I move them to a “Closed” tab in the spreadsheet, to keep them separate from the active ones.
Another use for this sheet is that oftentimes when you meet someone, they say “I think it would be great for you to talk to John Smith. I’ll get in touch with him and let you know when you can contact him.” This is an area of high “slippage” (they forget to follow up with you!), so at the bottom of my networking spreadsheet, I also list my contacts so I remember to follow up with them.
Conditional formatting is one of the most useful tools in Microsoft Excel. Basically, it allows you to say “format a cell this way, if a certain condition exists”. So, what I do, is I create this on the “follow-up” cell so that once the date I’m supposed to follow up has passed, the cell highlights in pink. That way, I can quickly scan my spreadsheet every day, and see who I need to follow up with.
To do this in Microsoft Office 2007, go to Home and select Conditional Formatting, and it’s very self-explanatory. Contact me if you need help setting this up!
For those of you who don’t know what an RSS reader is, basically, it’s a way to bring website content updates to you, rather than you going and getting them. So instead of having to log on to Monster, Hotjobs, Indeed, etc. every day, an RSS reader like Google Reader brings the job postings to you. It also allows you to mark items as read, and star your favorites. I find that it helps me organize what I’ve looked and what I haven’t. And, I can quickly scan for good jobs if I only have a bit of time, and know that I haven’t read the rest of the listings.
I only started using RSS feeds back in June, and now I’m in shock when I see sites that don’t have an RSS feed!
7. Cover letter
I have a standard cover letter with the name “cover letter template”. Each time I start a new cover letter, I open the template, and do a Save As with the company’s name. I am using Office 2007, so I also have my template anchored to the menu bar so I can easily access it.
The template has all customizable items highlighted in red (i.e. COMPANY). That way, I can easily see what needs to be changed for each company. After I’ve filled in all the red text, I click CTRL+A to highlight the entire letter, change the font to black, CTRL+C to copy the entire letter, and in the email or webpage, CTRL+V to paste the entire letter. It’s very quick and easy to do.
Indeed.com is a website that I discovered recently. It essentially goes and looks at many other job search sites out there, and brings the results into one site. So, you don’t have to look at as many websites. Of course, just to be sure, I still do, but I spend most of my time using Indeed.
My next blog post will be a list of my other favorite job search sites.
Do you have any tips of your own? Please share them below!
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