Organization is Key to a Successful Job Search

Using the right tools can help

4 November 2011

blog_geno Photo: Steven Noreyko

Editor's Note: Matt Genovese, an IEEE member,  is CEO of CareerCannon LLC, the company that designed and built the JobCannon site.

Imagine interviewing with a top-tier software company, accepting a competitive offer to work on a high-visibility project, and excitedly walking into your new role as a senior software developer on your first day of work. Ready to make progress, you power up your computer, only to discover that the programs you need to do your job are not loaded. Though you initially assume this must be an oversight, your heart slowly begins to sink as you learn that each new employee must first write his or her own tools from scratch before making any forward progress on the project. You are behind before you ever got started.This unlikely workplace scenario in fact occurs on a daily basis for professionals entering the job market. When transitioning to a new company, we generally expect that the tools and processes required to execute our roles are already established and in place. Unfortunately, when one makes the transition into the job market, that expectation of having the basic necessities in place is typically not fulfilled. Left to fend for themselves, job seekers often report feeling overwhelmed and stuck, not making any forward progress while they create their own ad hoc framework for finding a job—a process which can take months to hone.At my company, our research that led to the creation of JobCannon.com indicated that successful job seekers (a) have a rigorous system in place for capturing context and remembering their progress for each and every opportunity they are pursuing, and (b) that such systems reinforce staying on track each day of their job search. DID I APPLY FOR THAT JOB?When I speak with recruiters, they report that during the initial phone calls to job applicants, many candidates completely forget that they applied for a position at that company. That's not exactly starting off on the right foot with the person who might hire you. Remembering the context of each opportunity means that enough information is captured so you can easily recall where you left off. For example, in JobCannon users can capture contacts relevant to each job opportunity, date of application, date(s) of interviews, offer dates, free-form notes, and all types of details associated with those activities. Each item of context is logged with a date, resulting in a chronological history of your interaction with each job opportunity that makes it simple to remember where you left off.Maintaining the context of each job opportunity is critical for two reasons. First, most job seekers in this economic climate end up applying to many opportunities, sometimes in the hundreds. The sheer quantity of pursued opportunities means it's virtually impossible to remember the specifics of your progress with each and every one by memory alone. Secondly, the delay between applying to a job opportunity and receiving the first call-back can be anywhere from days to weeks or months. It's not unheard of to receive a call six months after applying for a position. With the original job posting and associated context of your activities in hand, the successful job seeker has what they need to speak intelligently about the job applied to months ago. From the company's perspective, the job seeker looks focused and organized, which is exactly the impression desired. WHAT SHOULD I DO TODAY?During my discussions with job seekers, I found that many struggled with having a clear set of actionable tasks to accomplish for the day, which also led to the frustration of feeling stuck and not making forward progress. Digging deeper into the issue, if the desired job opportunities are not tracked, it is virtually impossible to proactively pursue those opportunities after the initial application. Successful job seekers are purposeful in their daily activities, which are not only centered around finding new opportunities but also following up with ones already applied to.At my company, we found that automation also helps job seekers stay on track with their daily tasks, and in fact makes them better job seekers. We designed into JobCannon best practices from career coaches in the form of automatic reminders. For example, when a user enters information about a job he or she has applied for, JobCannon will automatically create a reminder for the user to follow-up and make sure it was received. Likewise, when an interview is scheduled, JobCannon not only creates a reminder about the interview itself, but also a reminder to follow-up with your interviewers to thank them. Job seekers have enough on their mind, so automating what needs to be done on a daily basis aims to get them "unstuck" in their job search.THE JOB SEARCH IS YOUR JOBRealize the job search process is a job in itself, and don't make the mistake of underestimating what it takes to be a successful job seeker. Enter your job search with an attitude of tenacity and staying organized, and incorporate tools to help you execute it successfully.

Photo: Sergey Novikov/iStockphoto

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