Job Search Tracking Tool (and Why You Need One)
Why You Need to Document Your Job Search
Do I really need to keep track of all the applications I send? Am I not doing enough work already by tailoring my resume to each job description and writing great, engaging cover letters?
Yes, you are already doing a lot of work in the typical job search. That is exactly why you need a tracking tool to focus your effort in the right places. Put in a little bit of time with each job you apply to and your job tracking tool should be able to answer the following questions:
- Which companies post the jobs I'm interested in?
- Does applying within the first week a job was posted improve my chances of getting an interview?
- Will getting a certain certification/skill get me the job I want?
- Which resume version is getting me the most interviews?
The time you put in to document your job hunt activities will save you time later.
Effective Job Tracking Tools
I suggest tracking your job search activities in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets but the exact form your job search tool takes does not really matter. It does not need to be a spreadsheet if that's not your style.
But no matter what format you choose to go with, your job tracking tool should have these qualities in order to be effective:
- Captures All Related Information
- Easy to Update
- Quantifies Information
Let's look at each of these and why they are important.
Captures All Related Information
You want some structure that allows for any information relating to your job search to be tracked. We'll go into more depth below on what exactly to include when you document your job search.
Easy to Update
Of course, this tool will only be as useful as your ability to keep it updated. So set yourself up for success here and choose a method you are familiar with that is easy for you to update. Make sure it is easy to access the document.
Evaluate whether you need a mobile-friendly method, or if you are on a desktop/laptop often enough to manage something more complex.
Turn job information you're tracking in your spreadsheet or notes into hard numbers as often as possible. This will allow the tool to show you trends in your job hunting efforts.
Track Job Application Information
Think about all the information you want to track for your job search. These will each become a column in your job search spreadsheet. These will be different for each person and you may find that your priorities change as you go through the process of finding a job.
At the very least, I recommend starting with these basics:
- Job Title
- Link to the Posting
- Years of Experience Required
- Date Applied
Since my job search has involved many out-of-state positions I always track whether a job description states they offer relocation assistance. If you're planning on staying local don't bother including it.
I also have a column to rate myself 1 to 10 on how well I meet the "basic qualifications" and another column with how well I meet the "desired qualifications". By looking at these two columns I can get a pretty good, objective idea of my chances at the job and that helps me decide whether the description
When conducting a broader job search outside of their field I suggest job hunters add a column to indicate how excited they are by the job posting. You might have all the right qualifications for a job but it sounds like the same boring stuff you're trying to get away from. Or you might run across a role that sounds like it could use your skills and is exactly what you're looking for. Tracking this will make it easy to see what companies and industry you could be interested in and what to look for in job titles.
Include columns specific to your industry. This might be whether a posting requires a certain certification or security clearance. The more specific information you are willing to track that is relevant to your job search the more useful your tracking tool will be in revealing trends.
Add Recruiter Interaction Information
Once you start hearing back from job applications you will want to add this information to your job search spreadsheet. Since interviews tend to happen for only a small percent of the applications you send out, create a unique notebook or section for documenting the results. There is a lot of additional information worth tracking when you are invited to an interview.
Add details to your spreadsheet as your job applications generate leads. Include when and where you interviewed for positions. A few categories you will want to track:
- Recruiter name and contact
- Date Interviewed
- Location Interviewed
- Names, Titles and Contact Information of Interviewers
If you are new to interviewing or looking to up your interview game you will want to track additional details such as the questions they asked you and the aspects of your experiences you shared during the interview.
Record Job Offer Information
You finally made it, a job offer! But that's not the end of the line. There are some very heavy decisions to be made. Use your job tracking tool to evaluate the job offer against the other leads you have in the works.
If you turn down the offer still make sure you record everything you can. You will want to track the salary offered and the highlights of the benefits package. Add any other details important to you.
Keep It Updated and Keep At It!
Most importantly, keep your job search tool up to date and keep plugging along in your job search. Whether you are currently unemployed or underemployed or you have a great job and are just looking for that next big opportunity, don't get discouraged! Refer back to your job tracking tool to see what is working and what isn't and also recognize how far you've come!
Questions & Answers
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