If you’re in the market for a new career, searching for open positions can feel like a full-time job itself. Once the hunt extends beyond a handful of companies, you can no longer rely on your memory alone to keep track of all the different roles you’ve applied for.
To keep things moving smoothly and avoid wasting your valuable time, you need to organize your job search. Here, we’ll explain how to set up a system for tracking your application progress and share a job search log template you can use to make the most of every step toward your new career.
Why Organize Your Job Search?
Stay on top of applications
While some companies fill open positions almost immediately, most take at least a few weeks–if not much longer–to hire. This means the interview process can drag on, and if you’re not conscientious, you may lose track of where things stand. Keeping a job search log will help you stay abreast of the status of the positions you’re interested in so you can follow up when it’s appropriate or remove them from your search if the role is filled by another applicant.
Maintain a professional appearance
A job search log can help you make sure you’re dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s in your job search, prioritizing small but important steps like personalizing your cover letter for every role and sending thank you notes to your interviewers. It can also help you avoid embarrassing snafus like applying for the same job twice or following up too frequently. A job search log is also a great resource that future you will be thankful for if you need to look back to find useful contacts for networking purposes.
Feel a sense of progress
If you’ve been looking for a job for a while, it’s easy to get discouraged with the lack of results. Keeping track of your progress with a job search log can help you stay motivated by quantifying all the hard work you’re putting in. It can also help you maintain a steady pace by setting and checking off-targets like applying to a certain number of new jobs per week or spending a set amount of time on the search each day.
How To Use A Job Search Log
First, create a table where you’ll track your progress. We like Google Sheets because it’s free and can be accessed from any device, anywhere, but Excel, Word, or even a good old-fashioned notebook and pen would work too.
In your table, create columns for the relevant information on your job applications. Here are a few columns to start with:
- Company name
- Position title
- Referred by
- Date applied
- Date job posting closes
- Status of application (in progress, submitted, needs more information, etc.)
- Key events (first interview, thank you note sent, second interview, offer received, etc.)
- Personal notes
Then, use the rows of your spreadsheet to log the jobs you apply for, creating a new row for each one. You can also add future targets to help you stay motivated, like dream companies that don’t have an open position now but that you want to check back with in the future.
If you’re an expert-level organizer, you can even use a color-coded highlighting system: green for ‘landed an interview’, yellow for ‘waiting to hear back’, and red for roles you didn’t get.
Visit your job search log regularly to follow up on items that require your attention or see where you might be able to take further action, like checking in with the hiring manager after an interview. It’s also a good idea to highlight contacts with whom you’ve built a rapport so you can touch base with them periodically; this can give you a leg up on learning about new opportunities in the future.
One more note about job search logs–they’re not just for active job seekers. You can benefit from using one if you’re a passive candidate to keep track of interesting positions you see or the occasional interview, if even it’s just for informational purposes.
Download Our Free Job Search Log Template
To help make your search as seamless as possible, we created a free job search log template you can download. When you click the link, you’ll be prompted to make a copy. Once you do so, you can modify the sheet to fit your needs and save it to your own Google Drive account.
4 More Tips To Organize Your Job Search
Set job alerts
Completing a job application is a time-consuming process on its own, and that’s not taking into account the time you have to spend finding the listing in the first place. Save time tracking down positions that are a good fit by setting up job alerts on a few platforms. Job alerts are automated messages set up to notify you when a role is posted that’s a match for your skills and interests. Genius, right?
Job alerts are available via a number of applications, including Google Alerts, LinkedIn, and most job listing sites. We recommend signing up for one or two services and having the alerts sent to a dedicated folder in your inbox so they’re all conveniently grouped in one place. You might even add a column in your job search log that reminds you to check in on your job alerts.
Job alerts can be particularly useful for passive candidates who aren’t regularly spending time looking for a new role, ensuring you stay in the loop about promising opportunities without taking time away from your existing job.
Set up calendar reminders for your job search
If you’re someone who lives and dies by your day planner (or someone who has trouble remembering to do things), sync your job search log with your calendar to ensure you never miss an important step in the application process. You can set calendar reminders to submit applications by a certain date, follow up on completed applications, check-in for new job postings, and pretty much any other task associated with your job search.
If you’re using Google Sheets for your job search log, it’s easy to connect it to your Google calendar and turn dates in the sheet into items in your calendar.
Put it on a list
It’s a proven phenomenon that being able to cross items off your to-do list is great motivation to get things done. So, add your job search to your daily task list and make it part of your regular routine, just like checking your email or loading the dishwasher. Bonus points if you can do it at the same time every day.
Even if it’s just ten minutes eyeballing your job search log to look for outstanding items, your search will feel much more organized when it’s something you’re on top of regularly.
Avoid Organization Overload
Organizing your job search is important, but there’s a fine line between being meticulous and letting it take the place of the actual work at hand–searching and applying for jobs. Don’t fall into the trap of organizational procrastination.
If you struggle with over-organizing, use an app like Rescue Time to set limits for how much time you’ll spend working on your search log. In addition to keeping you on task, it can identify distractions (looking at you, Tik Tok!) that negatively impact your focus so you can redirect your attention.
With a system for organizing your job search and a log to track your progress, you’ll spend less time retracing your steps and hunting down contact info and more time on the activities that will help you land your next amazing job opportunity.