Whether or not you consider yourself a well-organized person, it’s likely that adopting a relatively organized approach to your current or next job search will produce worthwhile benefits. The process of finding and capturing a new job has become more and more complex in recent years, and that trend appears likely to continue into the future–possibly even at a faster rate than it has done in the past. Unless you have an encyclopedic mind and can also manage multiple, sometimes conflicting priorities at a time without missing something, a degree of organization is essential to a successful job search. That’s true whether you’re a senior executive or a recent college graduate with limited business experience.
Why use checklists for your job search?
Checklists enable you to accomplish several desirable goals, including the following:
- Lay out all the critical steps you need to take and develop an approximate order and timeline for completing them.
- Identify “missing pieces”: possibly useful actions you might not otherwise have considered.
- Track your progress and spot actions that haven’t been completed yet but need to be done soon.
They’re also customizable to your preferred style of operating. You can make them as simple or as involved as you choose, because you’re the only one who is going to use them. If challenges arise and you need to reschedule an item on your list, no one is going to hassle you about that. As long as you’re fine with it, it’s okay.
What kind of checklists should you use?
As mentioned above, you get to choose how you develop and use your job search checklist. You can design your own or get ideas from lists that others have used and tailor them to fit your needs. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about the type of checklist. Personally and as a business owner, I like project checklists that give me a column for the target completion date and another column to check the items as I complete them. That style can work well for a job search, too. You can also make use of a number of high-tech tools, including resources like JibberJobber.com, to help you manage the list.
You can and probably will want to incorporate a variety of items in your job search checklist. The following are useful to include:
- Source of the position you’re pursuing (online posting, referral from a friend or colleague, etc.)
- Company, title and brief description of the position
- Date you submitted your resume and cover letter or other materials
- Return contact(s) you received (phone, email, letter, etc.)
- Dates of interviews scheduled and completed
The beauty of using checklists for your job search is that it helps you manage diverse important tasks even while other demands on your time and attention preclude devoting your full time to the job search. It’s easy to keep tabs on what’s happening, what you have and haven’t done, and so on, without making yourself crazy over it. Job searching can be enough of a hassle without subjecting yourself to that!
The fact that a lot of information is available about you online in various places might not be news to you. You might even know or suspect that employers check you out online after you apply to them. However, you might not know the extent of what is or can be done and its potential impact on your job search and chances for desirable employment. Technology is a two-edged sword: used wisely, it can be your friend; not wisely, your enemy.
Yves Lermusi, head of a company called Checkster, wrote an article in September 2011 called “Cyber-vetting’s Usage, Risk, and Future.” The article focused on cyber-vetting from an employer’s perspective, but you might want to pay attention from a job seeker’s perspective–whether you’re currently conducting a job search or might be in the future.
According to Mr. Lermusi, around 80% of employers currently search and track candidates’ online activities when they’re considering hiring someone. This includes online forums you participate in (ask and answer questions, etc.).
One problem Mr. Lermusi mentioned with cyber-vetting is that it can be done without your knowledge and can provide employers with access to data that leads to discrimination.
Here’s a quote from the article that might give you something more to think about: “Cyber-vetting will be used more and more by organizations, first to avoid surprises, and more as a digital background and fact-checking tool. Second, it will be used as a way to assess the expertise, motivation, and in some aspects the character of the candidates. Finally, it will expand into leveraging the collective intelligence that social network contains. We know that even if HR does not perform cyber-vetting, or admit to doing so, hiring managers will.”
This is definitely one of those situations where ignorance is not bliss. High-tech tools are increasing in sophistication and availability, and they will be used. The question is, will they be used for/by you or against you? At least to some extent, that’s up to you–how you manage your career, your job search and, ultimately, your life.