Managing your job search is just like managing any other project. You must create an administrative infrastructure that will allow you to operate efficiently, productively and with some order. Here are some strategies to consider as you craft a system to manage the flow of contacts, resumes, follow-ups and interviews throughout your search campaign:
Use Technology Wisely
Conducting a job search without technology is nearly impossible in today's virtual market. However, technology is not always the best tool to be organized.
One of my techie buddies teases me about the Rolodex that sits proudly on my desk. I love it. It takes me two seconds to find a phone number. But he wants me to use an electronic address book, so every time I need to look up a number I have to go to my PC, open a program, type in the name and get the phone number -- minutes later. Somehow, it just doesn't seem too efficient to me.
Create Two Work Spaces
I use two desks -- one is my PC desk where I do all my writing, email and research. The other is where I talk on the phone, write notes, keep important files and do administrative tasks. Each desk has a priority pile of items. The desks are side-by-side, so I can easily reach from one to the other, but they are separate and distinct workstations. It allows me to keep PC work separate from the things I need at my desk.
Establish a Schedule
In the morning, I write and handle priority projects. I save afternoons for phone calls and administrative tasks. I know other people who prefer the opposite schedule. It is difficult to sit at your computer and write a cover letter and email a resume in response to a job posting when you promised three people you'd follow up first thing in the morning or scheduled an appointment with your career coach for 9 a.m.
Set aside quiet times each day to attend to your writing tasks. I guarantee your productivity will increase. However, remember that flexibility is vital. If you've established 3 to 5 p.m. as your designated writing time, and you're invited for an interview at 4 p.m., accept the invitation.
Categorize Your Email
I probably receive an average of 75 emails a day. In going through email, I immediately delete all unsolicited messages. I then respond to the messages I can answer quickly, and then work my way through the others that require more than a quick thought. I figure for every 25 messages I receive, I handle more than 70 percent within 10 minutes.
Touch It Only Once
Whether it's each day's snail mail, your email or the papers on your desk, do something with it now and be done with it. When the mail arrives, I immediately sort it by throwing useless information into the recycling bin, putting bills in the "to pay" folder and putting everything else into their respective places. The less frequently you touch each piece of paper, the more efficiently you'll manage your entire campaign.
You probably have already developed some job-search-management strategies that work best for you. If you integrate some of the above into what you've already created, you'll find that your search campaign will proceed even more efficiently. The faster you move forward, the more quickly and easily you'll find your next opportunity.