Setting Up Job Search Central
Job hunting is serious business. To be successful, you'll need to organize your job search like a business. While a manila file folder labeled "Jobs" will serve you well as a collection device for job-related information in your early years of college, it's far from adequate for controlling the mountains of information generated during a full-fledged job search. You need to set up a control center for your job search, which we will refer to as Job Search Central.
Job Search Central is a physical location where you can organize and plan your job search. For many, Job Search Central will be located at their desks in their dorm room or apartment. But don't fight for space with the rest of an otherwise unorganized life. Job search requires the utmost in organization to be fully effective.
First, plan and organize the physical area itself. You need to set up a work space where you can work with your information, make phone calls, capture information, and plan out your job search. Get a comfortable chair that you can truly do productive work in for long periods of time. Make sure you have plenty of desktop space in which to work. And keep the work space clean and neat, not because Mom asked you to – do it because it will make you more efficient and productive. Keeping it clean does not mean it has to be antiseptic. Keep it efficient, yet personal. You might even consider placing some inspirational quotations or phrases on your wall to cheer you up and cheer you on when the going gets tough. Even the most effective job search will comprise a series of rejections before the ultimate acceptance. So make your work environment as positive and uplifting as possible.
Once your physical work space is set up, it's time to get organized. Excessive layers of wood pulp strata on top of the desk tend to suck in and destroy any new information. The "piling filing system" only serves to perpetuate disorganization. Don't make end-of-year the only time you sort through the paper mountain. Worse yet, disorganization can unwittingly serve as an accomplice to procrastination because you have a perpetual feeling that you "can never seem to get organized." Master the mountain now, even if it means filing all paperwork in a "General" file until it is later sorted. Keep it clean and efficient.
As part of a successful job search, you will be gathering and using enormous amounts of information. It is not enough to just write down notes on slips of paper and pile it onto an open corner of the desk. Believe me, there is nothing worse than losing the phone number from the company that just called to set up an interview. Set up and label vertical files to organize information on each and every company that you have an interest in. In this way, you can file away any information you gather until it is needed and necessary. You may also want to set up files on job search topics that you run across. Your copy costs will likely go up dramatically this semester. But don't just accumulate worthless information. Always ask: "Will this help me in the future?" then file it – in the vertical file or the circular file.
One of the most basic elements of tracking information is a simple "While You Were Out" paper pad and pen tacked down next to the phone. If you live alone, it gives you immediate access for capturing information. If you live with others, it can be a lifesaver (or jobsaver). It's amazing how often phone numbers are lost or taken down incorrectly, especially in the college environment. When I hear, "Just a minute, I have to find something to write on," I know that my name, company name, and phone number are being written on a gum wrapper, an empty twelve-pack box, or maybe worse. Make sure you have the message pads available and ask anyone/everyone that answers your phone to use them. If you are personally taking down the information, it is best to take it down directly in an information organizer (see the SASE offer below for more info), so that it is captured forever. As a fallback, make sure that you have an organized way for yourself and others (remember "The Roommate Factor" – the probability of your roommate losing the phone number is directly proportional to the importance of the call) to capture the information. Then have a central location – a bulletin board on the wall next to the phone – for posting the message.
Another essential tool in your job search is an answering machine to take your calls when you're out. Just make sure you use a standard, "normal" greeting (and avoid the "...I'm out studying a course in advanced inebriation..." greeting) or else that click you hear on the answering machine may be your interview or offer gone "bye-bye." Keep it straight and simple.
If your personal environment includes a personal computer, use it for "batch" events – writing (and rewriting) your resume, cover letters, and updating a database of company information. But never get yourself stuck in a situation where you need to "boot up" to capture live information. Always be ready with pen in hand. And having a portable (pocket) information organizer to accompany you throughout your day will further extend Job Search Central into your personal portable office.
Setting aside a specific location for conducting your job search has several important benefits. It will help you organize your job search. It will help you maintain control in your job search. And it will also provide you with an ascetically pleasant environment that will contribute to your overall success.
-Article provided by CollegeGrad.com