Organizing Your Job Search


When you’re in hot pursuit of a job, things get confusing. You’re editing your resume to fit different job prospects, emailing potentially vastly different cover letters to employers, and often doing it all under strict deadlines. It’s basically a recipe for disaster.

A few years ago, I sent out at least five copies of my resume to different employers with the wrong objective across the top. When I realized my mistake, I was mortified and frantically emailed them back with updated resumes… and never got a single call-back from one of the jobs.

Mislabeled cover letters. Incorrect salutations. Unattached resumes. All things that, with a little focus and organization, you can avoid (and increase your chances of landing your perfect gig!).

First, get a naming scheme in place for your resumes and cover letters. Include the name of the company where you’re applying. If your name is Betty Smith and you’re applying for a job with Whole Foods, create a new version of your resume and save it as: Smith_Resume_WholeFoods.pdf

Second, do the same with your cover letter (even if you’re going to paste it into an email, it’s good to write it in your word processor of choice to edit it… and guarantee you don’t accidentally send it before it’s done. Not that I’ve ever done that.).

Third, embrace the cloud. Save your resumes and cover letters – with their unique names – to DropBox or some other cloud-based storage service. This way, you always have access to your stuff, even if you’re away from your desk. AND you have a backup, just in case something happens to your computer.

Fourth, get a spreadsheet and keep it updated. Have fields for the company name, the date that you applied, the date that you followed up, and whether or not you landed an interview.

Fifth, when you’re preparing your application email, don’t – DO NOT – fill out the “to” line until you’re ready to send. You wouldn’t want to send it accidentally before you were done.

Sixth, create a “before I send…” checklist. An actual checklist that you fill out for each of your application. It should include:

  • Proofreading your cover letter one last time
  • Attaching your CORRECT resume (remember to look at the name of the company on the file name)
  • Pasting the email address into the “to” field last
  • Proofreading your cover letter one last LAST time
  • Taking a deep breath
  • Hitting send

And, with that, I wish you good luck on your search!

Photo credit: Flickr

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