According to the most recent numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in October, 2009 the unemployment rate jumped up to 10.2 percent, which is the highest number since April of 1983. If you are one of the 558,000 Americans currently out of work, seeking to land a job in an increasingly unpredictable market, consider giving yourself the advantage of getting more organized. Your time management and organizational skills could not only help you land a job but also the edge you need to keep it.
In a recent New York Times article it was stated that, “the unemployed spend 19.7 months, on average, seeking work, the longest stretch in nearly 20 years.” With such a lengthy job hunt an individual can accumulate an avalanche of applications, a collection of contacts, and more than a few follow ups all of which need to be organized and managed to ensure that your next job does not fall through the cracks. A few essential items are mandatory to organize your job hunt so a job seeker can track every opportunity that he or she encounters.
Never be without your calendar during a job hunt, an unexpected request for a meeting or phone call could come your way at any moment. It is essential that a job seeker is able to quickly schedule an appointment without hesitation or fear of double booking oneself. Remember that this initial request for a meeting is a job seekers chance to make a strong first impression. With a calendar ready at all times, a job seeker can be ensured that a potential employer will be left with an organized and efficient first impression.
Organized and efficient individuals leave more than a strong first impression, they are also more desirable to potential employers. Virginia Tech’s Career Services department gives this advice to students preparing to attend job fairs or interviews, “Carry a pad folio to hold your resumes so you look organized. Employers would rather hire organized people than unorganized people, so look like you're the right type.”
Your calendar is also a great way to schedule follow up contact after initially applying for a job. According to Quintessential Careers.com, ”Always make time to follow-up all job leads, no matter how busy you are. Follow-up in a timely fashion --usually a week to 10 days for conventional job-searching, sooner for online applications.” Once a job seeker has submitted an initial application they should immediately be scheduling a follow up reminder on their calendar so they can stay fresh in each employers mind.
A Filing System
As a Professional Organizer, I encourage job seekers to create a filing system so they are able to properly track all communications, paperwork and results of each job opportunity. Have a file box dedicated to your job search and a file folder inside for each job that you apply for. Consider creating a document on your home computer so you can print off a copy for each folder and track important information. When putting your document together be sure to include:
• the title of the job you applied for,
• date you applied
• name of employer
• name of contacts you have spoken to
• a place to jot notes about contact you have with the company or recruiter
• Place to note the date and type of follow up that you conduct
• A place to record any feedback that you received from this company
Other information that is good to keep in your job search file box is:
• Copies of your resumes
• Job search website logins, passwords, and user agreements
• Networking information that you have gained throughout your job hunt.
CNN.com reports that “Being organized is critical to job search success. It can mean the difference between a long, unsuccessful job search and one that nets better, quicker results.” Taking the extra effort to organize your job search information into a filing system can help your hunt be shorter than the national average thus getting a regular paycheck back into your checking account faster.
Once you have established a system to organize your job hunt the next step is to use it. Being organized is a daily choice to follow the systems that you have created to move you in the direction that you want to be headed, so work your job hunt as hard as you would your full time job.
Consider this an investment in your future as an employee also because being organized will not only set you apart in your initial job search but it will continue to differentiate you from other employees. According to a 2006 survey of employees, "Forty-three percent of the Americans surveyed described themselves as disorganized, and 21 percent have missed crucial work deadlines. Nearly half say disorganization causes them to work late at least two to three times a week."
If you can show that you are an organized individual in the job search process and you can carry that through your employment than you are a step above twenty-seven percent of the workforce who identify themselves as disorganized according to the National Association Of Professional Organizers 2009 survey.
A job seeker recently shared that, “…organization is definitely at the top of the list of desired work skills. You can have tons of knowledge and a great personality but at the end of the day what matters most is that the work is done on time - without forgetting anything!”
If you find yourself in a job hunt now or in the future, take a hard look at your organizational abilities and consider this an opportunity to sharpen one of the most desired skills by employers. Take time to find the perfect calendar for you and create the perfect filing and tracking system for your job search to set you apart from the rest of the job searching pack.