Documenting Your Job Search

In today’s job market, how you approach the job hunt is nearly as important as the work experience you bring with you.

Employers want to see an applicant who has taken the time to prepare all necessary documents required for interviews ahead of time, can swiftly access work histories and certifications, possesses the organization skills to organize his or her online job search and does not simply show up to meetings with hiring managers unable to explain why she or he is there.

A strategic job search is necessary for success in finding your dream job, no matter what it may be or how qualified you are. Thanks to the internet, hiring companies have more access to personal data on potential employees than ever before. You want to harness this power of information and use it in your favor rather than letting it work against you. A few responsible steps taken to plan out and document your job search can make all the difference in the ease and overall success of your job inquiries.

How to Plan Your Job Search

Figuring out how to go about finding the job that is meant for you in a market that is often flooded with scams, outdated information and digital dead ends can be frustrating if you do not have any direction at the outset of your job hunt.

There are several steps you need to take in order to be properly organized at the beginning of your job search and to have better odds of arriving at a good job. The first step to planning your job search is to write down all of the careers companies and positions that most interest you. These can be jobs that are within the parameters of your educational background or work experience, but they do not have to be

Remember, right now you are just planning, and the value of this exercise is to see where your heart lies and what your genuine interests are so that you can build options from the fields that interest you

Next, add the requisite skills that each job or company requires. This may involve doing a little bit of research, but it will show you where you align with the necessary skills for a given job and where you may need additional certification or development before applying

Do a little homework on the supporting roles beneath the positions you really want and see if you might fit in someplace there while you seek further training or education to get the job you really want. Never underestimate the value of starting at the bottom and working your way up to a dream job

Finally, identify the skills that you have now and jobs that you feel you already meet the qualifications for. Make your initial applications in these areas and pursue classes or professional development to fill in any gaps.

How to Take Control of Your Job Search

When you are actively submitting applications and doing interviews, your grip on the organization of your job search can slip if you do not have a documentation process in place for that portion of the process too. There are countless useful ways to keep up with when you sent applications, whom you sent them to, what the outcome of those applications is

It is advisable to keep this information in a separate document, such a spreadsheet, for easy reference. Make a special folder for relevant job documents that you know you will need for every application, such as your resume, proof of prior work experience, professional recommendations, certificates and diplomas, cover letters and college transcripts. Have multiple copies of each of these documents prepared and on hand in both paper and digital forms if possible

Time is of the essence in a job search. If an employer asks you for a piece of documentation, your ability to turn that documentation around quickly will say a lot about your preparedness and, in the perception of the employer, readiness for work

How to Monitor Your Job Search

Depending on your level of digital savvy, there are several simple ways to track the progress of your job hunt. If you feel comfortable utilizing computer programs, it is very easy to log information into various types of graphs and tables that can show you in a representation where you are in your job search and where you want to be

You can even aggregate your application data in certain online job boards, showing you percentages of what types of jobs you have applied for, what your responses have been and other useful analytics. Many digital job boards will send you automated alerts for jobs that fit your resume to your email, phone or other digital device. You generally have the option to receive these alerts as frequently or infrequently as you choose

If you are not necessarily the most computer-literate person, you can achieve the same goals on paper. Keep a tally of jobs in each category that you apply for. Copy down job descriptions that match your marketable skills and set yourself a quota each week that you check off as you go, like a grocery list

Add up and color code all the jobs in a given field, company or city that you have applied for. Use different colors for different types of jobs to get a feel for what your application patterns are and what the outcomes of those patterns prove to be over time. Do you notice that you are getting more interviews in an area of your field of specialization that you did not expect? Perhaps you are not getting calls for jobs you thought you were a good fit for

Collect and utilize this data to your advantage as you continue your job hunt. Keeping accurate and detailed records as you search for a job can take the guesswork and confusion out of the experience, as well as help you to feel more confident in your methods of approach

Why Documentation Matters

Beyond the obvious value of being able to keep a record of what you have done and when you have done it throughout the course of a job search, your job search documentation also serves the added purpose of helping you to build your professional network

Write down the names and phone numbers of every administrative personnel you speak to or meet with. Get emails and contact information from hiring managers at every company that you interview for. Even if the particular job does not appeal to you at the current moment or you are not asked for a second-round interview, you never know when or how having that contact may be valuable in your professional future

Keeping adequate job search documentation also prevents you from making the embarrassing mistake of applying to the same job twice or sending duplicate materials to a hiring manager you may already have contacted. Small errors like this can make you appear jumbled, impersonal and unreliable to potential employers. Good documentation of a job search shows diligence and resolve

Ultimately, proper documentation of your job search can set you apart in the eyes of potential employers in the best possible way and make the likelihood of your arrival at your dream job far greater.

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