By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS
Suit PocketThe beginning of a New Year brings with it an opportunity to clean your slate.  You can start everything fresh.  Or, if you are newly laid off as often happens at the end of the year, you will be starting from scratch in your job search.  Either way, one of the many important things to do in your search is to be organized.  Treating it like a job will go a long way towards helping you secure your next position. This posting is devoted to organizing your career campaign so that you can manage all of its moving parts resulting in functioning like a well-oiled machine!

1. Start by creating your space.You need a spot for your computer and whatever supplies are required. Think of yourself as telecommuting for a job and set the stage for productivity. Unless you work completely paper free, you will have papers that need to be organized in folders, books that you will or have read, articles, scratch copies of resumes and other things to manage. Also, you need to work in a place that is conducive to the search process so you can concentrate and be free of mess.

2. Determine your skills and strengths to prepare creation of your Value Proposition.  Think about and write down the stories of your work life to see where your skills and strengths are which proves your value to any organization that you work for.  You will need to pull them out over the course of your search to create your Value Proposition, your resume, for your letter writing campaign, phone screens interviews and many other situations.

3. Arrange your stories in a way that helps you create your Value Proposition. I often call this the “spine of your search.” You manipulate your Value Proposition for many purposes from your resume to networking meetings to interviewing and many other situations. The organization of your work life stories helps you keep them top of mind so they are at your fingertips and ready when the time calls for them.

4. Create or update your resume by coordinating the varying tools you have for this process.  I have always said that a good place to start is by looking at postings of positions that you are interested in applying for. Use word lists that you can find online to help you figure out different ways of expressing the things that you did. Keep a highlighter to use as you modify your resume so that you can highlight the changes you make as you tailor it to the postings you start to apply for.

5. While you are preparing your resume, you can also start researching the companies that you are interested in working at. You need to manage your research so that it is available to you later on when you finally are able to secure that coveted interview. In addition, you will need to be joining organizations to increase your network so the research on this needs to happen here as well.

6. So now you have arrived at the heart of your search, which is to start applying for positions, posting your resume on job boards, attending networking functions and other parts of the process. How do you keep track of all of it?  There are many ways to do it. There is the old fashioned pen and paper way. There is the very sophisticated online way by using cloud software like For those of you who are familiar with, JibberJobber is similar to this for the career search industry.  All components of your job search can be entered into your database including your networking contacts and their information. You can track your resumes, job postings and see who you know at the varying companies you look to apply to.

Another cloud service is called With Huntsy, you can keep track of all of your job postings and Huntsy will help you manage the timeline of events for the position such as which resume did you send, when is your interview, contacts with HR and all of your correspondence. With Huntsy, you can attach postings to your tool bar as you move from place to place. The Huntsy owl sits at the top in your tool bar waiting to prey on your job components.

Then, there is always creating a spreadsheet on Excel for tracking purposes.  Use different workbook sheets to manage all of the different parts of your search always making sure to include the dates of your contacts and submissions.  Create a sheet for networking, recruiters, job boards, outreach to companies, interviews and whatever else you want to track. Whatever method you choose, your goal is to be so organized that you are able to function with the parts of your search in an efficient and effective manner.

7. Design a schedule for yourself.  I have always told my clients that huddling over your computer for hours at a time will not serve you well.  This is still my mantra.  Develop a  schedule that includes computer time, networking time, family time and recreation time (and don’t forget sleep!).

8. Lastly, establish a positive attitude towards your search process so that you can overcome the tolerations and problems that drag you down.  Realize that it is not that difficult to get things going by systematizing your career campaign with the suggestions presented above. Having an organized framework goes a long way to helping overcome inertia issues that weigh you down.

So here you have eight tips to help you organize your job search. Please leave me a comment and let me know if this was helpful to you.  As always, if you need help with your search, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or 203-323-7797.

I wish you every success – Let’s get to work!