There’s no way around it: applying for your first full-time job is stressful, confusing, and overwhelming. You’ll apply to 20, 30, 100 jobs in all sorts of cities, at all sorts of companies, and using all sorts of different methods. That alone is tough enough. You need to avoid any possible slip-ups that could throw you off track. Staying organized is the most important part of keeping it all together.
My foolproof method for keeping everything organized during a massive job search isn’t an app, it doesn’t cost you anything, and it’s something you’ll probably be using constantly once you get that entry-level job you’re looking for: an Excel spreadsheet.
Photo courtesy of the author
You need to keep track of every aspect of every job application. Keeping this information all in one place and updating it constantly is the only way to make sure you never miss anything that may cause you to lose an opportunity. Create your very own jobs spreadsheet just for that purpose.
In the chart, dedicate a line for each position, and add as many columns as you feel necessary to keep track of what you need. Read on to see what I included in my chart, and let me know in the comments if you think there’s something I missed. Happy spreadsheeting!
1. Job title and company
This is the fun column so it comes first. It’s always exciting to see the titles lined up for the jobs you’ve applied to, and imagine yourself in each of those different roles. You’re young and the possibilities are endless, and reading the myriad of roles you could take on in the next few months will always remind you of that.
I admittedly never used this column because I only applied to jobs in one city (the greatest one, NYC), but if you’re applying to jobs in different cities or states it’s clearly important.
Photo courtesy of the author
3. Date applied
I kept my sheet in date order so I could scroll down and see how things were going as time went on. It’s also important to remember the date so that, if you haven’t received a response, you can plan an appropriate time for following up on your application.
4. What you sent & who you sent it to
Did you email a resume and cover letter, or did you fill out an exhausting application online? Whose email was listed on the application, and who do you contact if you need to follow-up? What is that person’s job title – is it an HR person, the person you’d be replacing, or the person who would be your boss?
5. Links and passwords
With so many job application systems, it’s easy to forget which password you used and how to access your profile. Save all this information here, as well as the links to the original job posting.
Pro tip: Also save the job description in a document with the cover letter you sent. More often than not, the position will be taken down just as you get the urge to go re-read it. Save everything.
I used this column to keep track of everything I received in response to my application. It started with whether I received an automatic reply, and I would add things as time went on – if there were things to add.
My dumping ground for everything else. You can put anything you want in this column. Sometimes I used it for encouraging things like “the cover letter for this one was really good!!!!” Other times it was just straightforward things like “Log into system to check job status.”
There you have it: my super amazing top secret weapon for staying perfectly organized during a job search. Make your chart, get organized, and add “expert in Microsoft Excel” to your resume, because you’ll be a pro.
Do you have a better method? Let me know in the comments.