This article on tracking your job search is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate receives up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School.
In today’s competitive job market, applying for multiple positions is expected. With time spent on each application and cover letter, keeping track of them all can be overwhelming. You don’t want to waste those valuable hours spent applying by neglecting to follow up, forgetting about firms and openings, misunderstanding interview times, or missing critical application deadlines.
Effectively managing and organizing your job search is crucial to finding employment and making your job search as smooth and quick as possible.
Why Track Your Job Search?
Tracking the steps you’re taking to secure a job is extremely helpful to both expedite and optimize the search. By keeping track of your actions, you can gather information to inform your strategy going forward.
Depending on the volume of companies and industries you are targeting, you may be applying to dozens or possibly even hundreds of openings. While you’re actively hunting for a job, tracking your applications will help to remember – or quickly locate – the details of a role when/if the recruiter calls.
This way, you won’t have to rely just on memory when you periodically assess your job search strategy, because you’ll have data. It’s instructive to keep track of the positions you’re interested in as well as the ones you’ve rejected. If you’re turning down jobs because they don’t pay enough, perhaps your expectations are unrealistic.
Data can tell you how often you secure interviews, which positions and versions of your resume typically result in calls and interviews, and whether or not you’re applying to the right type and level of jobs.
But to get these aids and insights, you first need to document that data.
Data Points To Track
Your tracking software doesn’t have to be fancy – Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets will be sufficient. What you track is also entirely up to you, but here are some helpful data points you may wish to consider.
Always include the name of the organization you’re applying to. For large companies, include the department or division name. Knowing who is hiring (and who is not) helps to target your search.
Role titles vary greatly between companies. What one company considers a junior position could be senior at another. The role title is most helpful in identifying which role it is someone is calling you about.
Reference Or Job Code Number
You may need this information as a method of identifying roles that you have applied for later.
Salary Range and Expectations
Being asked “What is your salary expectation?” and giving a number $20K above what the role will pay is one of those “let the floor swallow me up” moments.
Salary isn’t included in job descriptions as much as we’d like. If a range isn’t listed, doing some research and filling in an empty column based on the common salary for the position title and location will be helpful should you receive a callback.
This is where you found the job – think LinkedIn or Indeed.
Over time you will be able to see which sites, sources, or contacts are the most advantageous for you to focus on. Plus, including the link to the position will save you time should you get an interview offer. It is a good idea to save the listing as a PDF or a copy of the text because links expire or postings are taken down; you can use this space to link back to that PDF.
Every resume should be tailored to the job of interest. That means thinking about the role, what skills and experience are most important, and including only relevant points on your resume.
Let’s say you see a project management role in IT, and the person in that role works exclusively with marketing. When you customize your resume, you’d pull out all the times you’ve worked with marketing, and make them your top bullets (assuming that all your bullets are quantified and equally strong.) You’re saying to the person who reads your resume, I get projects done, on time, on budget, and within the marketing space. That resume is way stronger than a generic project management resume.
Later when you’re printing out your resume for your interview, you need to know which one it is. You need to know how successfully you’re tailoring your resume. Therefore, you need to track it.
Cover Letter Used
You can include the text in your email as well as an attachment, but don’t forgo cover letters.
The point of a cover letter is to give the hiring manager a quick overview of your skills and how well you fit with the job they have. It gives them a positive feeling before they look at your resume, and it encourages them to do so. Cover letters need to be tailored too, for the same reason as resumes.
Listing which one you used will make it easier to pull up during interview prep.
If there’s a closing date listed on the job description, track it. That way you’ll know when they “should” be considering your resume, and when to give up and move on. That said – closing dates can change, for various reasons. Take this as just one piece of information towards your understanding of the timeline.
When did you send your resume? Without looking at your calendar or email, you might not know. Jot it down here so that you have all your information in one place.
Did you get an email, phone call, or interview? From who? When? The measure of success of a resume is getting an interview. That’s all. The resume helps you get an interview, the interview helps you get the job. If you want to analyze your data later, you have to know the results of your efforts.
What information did you learn about the position, etc.? Once you’re juggling 20 or so opportunities, you’ll soon forget who you spoke to and when. Make notes about what’s happened with this job. You’ll thank yourself later.
There are many ways to keep track of your job hunt, but there are also ways to reduce the initial mental burden. It will be beneficial to streamline your employment search.
Prioritize quality above quantity – make each application count by only submitting to positions that are legitimate and for which you are qualified.
About Tjwana Dixon
Tjwana Dixon is a career coach with Flatiron School. Dixon has worked in the higher education and not-for-profit education sector for over 14 years. The majority of her roles were in the Career Development Department. She enjoys assisting people transitioning into new careers.