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Job Search Secrets: Make An Organizer

None of us ever feel that we are going to be out of work for very long. We jump into looking for work in as many directions as we can think of, confident that we will find a suitable position quickly, and move on with our lives.

A few weeks pass and we see that we have been pursuing leads willy-nilly and often can’t quite remember where we applied and the details of each position.

Creating a central organizer for our activities can help assure that we have a clear understanding of where we’ve been and what we’ve done, and provides a private resource chart for on-going contacts and re-contacts.

Start with a thick, 2 or 3 inch, 3 ring binder available at any drugstore. Get a stack of pre-punched paper and several thick paper pockets to put in each section. Here are some suggestions on how to set it up – if something a little different works for you, make whatever changes you’d like.

1. The first section will contain your resume, your personal snapshot cheat sheet (personal qualities demanded by employers which you possess, the general and specific job skills in your repertoire) and your weekly job search schedule. If you have more than one resume, number each one so you can keep track of which version you use with each potential employer.

2. This part consists of job leads from classifieds, postings, website job applications completed, job fair brochures and related information. Hole-punch complete page size documents. For small ads, tape the cut out slips onto a blank sheet and leave plenty of room around each ad to make notes – when you applied, how you applied, and when follow up is needed. If you obtain business cards from in-person applications or job fairs (where you should be able to collect a lot of them), slip them into the pocket pages and write any pertinent information on the back of each card -where you obtained it, any special details about the person, if follow up might be worthwhile and when.

3. This section is for resumes submitted. File a copy of all cover letters submitted and, if applicable, note the number of the resume you attached. Make notes of any responses received or follow up telephone numbers. You may also include here the names and details of any agencies where you registered or head hunters you may have called.

4. This is a record of all interviews completed. Include notes of where and when and any pertinent details regarding how well it went, company characteristics and when follow up would be appropriate. Keep the business cards of interviewers in your pocket page with notes on the back specific to that interviewer (very important if you are called back for a second meeting).

5. 6. 7. and 8. Networking — the core of your job search. We need four sections for our sizzling contacts (direct connections with family members, friends, acquaintances, and business associates), warm contacts (personal referrals made by our sizzling list), tepid contacts (referrals through others but one or two steps removed from people we personally know) and cold contacts (employers we have contacted from out the blue to see if any unadvertised openings exist). Use these sections to record who you contact and when, the responses received, and telephone numbers for follow up.

9. Keep a separate section for lessons learned. Whenever you identify a technique that worked well for you, make note of the details. When you debrief yourself after an interview, make notations regarding what went well and any weaknesses or problem areas you need to work on. If you believe that you made mistakes, write out the details and figure out how to avoid repeating them.

10. Jobs that didn’t fit. You may tend to think of this as your “rejections” pile but always remember that not getting a job you want is not a personal rejection of you but merely reflects the fact that someone else was a better fit. Keep all “Thanks, but no thanks” letters here with any notes you may have regarding the details. Store those ubiquitous postcards noting that your resume was received and will be considered, in your pocket page. File a copy of e-mails received acknowledging receipt of online applications.

If you find such an organizer helpful, you can continue the same technique when you start a new job and materials are coming fast and furiously. Then use one for your on-going networking to keep your contact list warm and secure by continuing to acknowledge their help and to schedule an occasional hello and update.

About the Author

A Licensed Psychologist and Rehabilitation Counselor, Dr. Bola developed
emotional coping strategies and job search skills
for clients and has served as a recognized Vocational Expert in court. Visit her at:

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