From contributing writer, Lindsay Scott:
Planning and scheduling, leading teams, pre-empting risks, managing stakeholders, controlling resources, monitoring progress – these are some of the skills project managementprofessionals must possess. The ability to blend techniques, processes, tools and managerial skills lead some to stand out among their peers. So, when you find yourself seeking a new job, it makes perfect sense to approach it like a project.
Organize & Control the Job Seeking Process
Tracking your job search is the type of activity that appeals to project managers and just about anyone else who wants to be organized and in control. Keeping everything in one place makes it easier to see progress and outcomes, and helps you appear more professional.
Take the normal situation job hunters face. Your resume should change slightly for each vacancy you seek. You will apply for positions through job boards, agencies, websites, directly with employers and through your personal network. You’ll most likely upload resumes to job database websites and brush up your LinkedIn profile. Before you know it you will have many versions of your resume scattered about in different places, each emphasizing separate skills, experiences and interests.
Now, imagine this scenario. You receive a call from an agent. They’re interested in your application and want to talk to you, immediately. Which vacancy is this? Which resume did you use? Time is of the essence. They have to send your details to the hiring organization today. Why are you good for this position? Are you prepared to sell yourself? Or are you fumbling around, trying to work out what’s going on?
With a proper job search tracker at the ready you’ll stay focused, be prepared to talk to people and be ready to sell yourself. Let’s explore the three documents you’ll want in your tracking tool:
- The Vacancy and Application Tracker
- The Networking Tracker
- The Website Tracker
- The Vacancy and Application Tracker
When applying for positions, these are the details you need to track:
1. Role applied for
Keep a record of the actual title of the position and any reference number.
2. Where you found the open position
Name the source and copy the URL.
3. What the position is
Copy and paste the entire job advertisement or download and store the job description. Details for vacancies often disappear after a week on job boards so keeping record of what you have applied for is crucial. Make sure you include details on salary.
4. When you saw it
Record the date you applied for a position – plus keep a note of the date it was first advertised.
5. How you applied
Did you send an email? Make a note and save the email. Did you apply on-line? Make a note of the date. Was it an application form? Was it done through the post? Keep track of all of these details.
6. Contact name and details
Make a note of the named person on the job advertisement; check to see if other names are included. Include the contact’s telephone number, email address, website and any other details that you can use to follow up with later.
7. Which resume used
Use a descriptor, in addition to the filename, to quickly recall which resume you submitted and an attachment or hyperlink to the document itself. This is a must, especially if you receive a call that requires you to react quickly.
8. Status of application
Hopefully, this will be changing frequently! Consider using color here so you can quickly review progress and concentrate your efforts.
9. Prompts to follow up
Consider a number of prompts or actions required for each vacancy. Actions could include: follow up call one day after application submitted, revisit website to view new vacancies, chase progress after one week etc.
Make notes about your own thoughts on the process. How responsive is the organization? Any feedback received is important to note – and will help you feel in more control of your jobsearch.
Up to now, these fields in the job search tracker help you stay in control as you find vacancies and apply for them. Further fields are necessary to take you through the interview and shortlist stages.
11. Company name and contact details
When an application makes it to the interview stage or shortlist, it is normal practice for agents to reveal the employer. Make a note of any information you are given at this stage concerning the company. Include URLs to company websites.
12. Location details
Employers will tell you where to go when your interview is scheduled.
13. Interview stages
There may be numerous interviews so include areas for at least three. Make a note of the person you are meeting with and the interview format. Include comments describing your own thoughts and experiences. These will help as you move through the process, especially if you get offered the position.
14. Interview documents
There may be documentation you are asked to produce for interviews – like presentations or sample project documentation. Make a note of what these are and where they are stored, or attach copies.
This is a useful section should you face multiple offers from various places. Include details of salary, the benefits package plus the pros and cons of each position and offer.
The second use for a job search tracker is to include your networking opportunities. A high proportion of job seekers actually find new opportunities through someone they know – or somebody in their network. Using a tracker to help manage your network can help you make the most of it.
The Networking Tracker
Your networking tracker organizes the people who can help you during your job search. Keep a track of:
1. Name and type of contact
Who is this person and how do you know them? Your network consists of people from all parts of your life: ex-colleagues, friends, people you meet at events or conferences and more. Try categorizing your contacts.
2. Contact details
Telephone numbers, email addresses, websites, etc. Be sure to include their current company and position.
Yes or no, are you connected with your contact via LinkedIn? 98% of Project Managers have a LinkedIn profile (via Arras People, PMBR 2013). Also include a link to their profile in your networking tracker.
4. Area of interest
Include details here about any potential lead you uncover while networking. It could be that the company they are working for will be hiring shortly, or perhaps they need an interim piece of work completing.
5. Next actions
Make your network work for you by keeping in touch with your contacts through a variety of channels. Consider follow up actions like planning a meeting, going for a coffee, meeting at an event or conference or just an email to keep in touch.
Your network will continue to widen as you nurture it. Make sure you keep a note of where connections are coming from and who originally introduced you. This is useful in seeing which of your contacts are yielding more opportunity for you. It’s also useful when considering next steps.
Are you remembering to say thanks for letting the original contact know how a new connection they introduced you to is working out?
LinkedIn is the professional’s networking tool of choice. While it makes it easy to maintain contact with your network, a networking tracker lets you see your potential opportunities as well as which connections work and which ones don’t. It’s about taking networking seriously, sorting the wheat from the chaff and honing in on the ones that deliver serious opportunities to you.
The final tool in your job search tracker tracks all the details you need to remember while using various websites.
The Website Tracker
You’ll be amazed how many website accounts you amass during your job search. For each account, keep a track of:
- Email address used to register
- Which resume you used or uploaded
- When you uploaded the resume
- Does the resume need “refreshing”
- If you close an account
Don't just track. Regularly assess the performance of each website. If the job openings they list don’t match what you’re looking for, close the account to avoid wasting future time and to stop unwanted mail or calls.
Want to create your own job search tracking tools? Get started with this Smartsheettemplate: http://ow.ly/jL9l0
As a project manager, organizing and tracking your job search ought to be second nature. Whether you use a dedicated job search tool, spreadsheets or a customizable application like Smartsheet, keep abreast and keep current of the data listed above. It’s not just about recording or tracking. When you stick to good habits like these you are more likely to engage in research, submit high quality applications, and perform well during interviews. Good habits beget good results.
Lindsay Scott is a contributing expert to the Smartsheet blog. She is a co-founder of Arras People, the UK human resources consultancy specializing in program & project management recruitment. Lindsay provides career clinics for PMO professionals and carries out speaking engagements on project management careers topics. You can read more from Lindsay on the How To Manage a Camel blog.