How to Stay Organized While Looking for a Job

Learn how to set up your files for a job hunt that’s organized and efficient, with everything you need at your fingertips.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #169

Job hunting is weird. No one ever gets really good at it, because the instant you get a positive result, you stop doing it. You don’t get much practice!

Unfortunately, though, our economy is still losing jobs. That means that job hunters are finding themselves unemployed for a long time. But let’s look on the bright side; it’s a chance for many of us to master job hunting by practicing it over and over.

A Get-it-Done Guy community member on Facebook asks: How do I organize myself for a job hunt?  Great question! Let’s jump right in.

How to Successfully Job Hunt

A job hunt is all about the people you meet. You’ll need to keep track of them, and not just by hijacking the GPS signal on their iPhone. Get a good people tracking system. Use your existing address book. If you want a more powerful system, I recommend HighRiseHQ.com, a simple-but-powerful site that lets you track people, the emails you've sent and received, and notes from conversations.

How to Keep Track of Reference Information

You’ll track more than just people. You'll also have research you'll use in your hunt. For that, you'll need file folders! My favorite!

This will be like kindergarten, but without paste, so you'll need something else to snack on. Get about twenty file folders. Also get a package of notebook paper, at least fifty sheets. First, we’ll set up your folders.

How to Create Reference Folders for a Job Hunt

We’ll use the folder-naming system in my filing article. Label one folder Industry-the industry where you're looking. For example, Industry-Banking, Industry-Fashion, or Industry-Action Figures. Here you’ll file notes about the industry, so you can make smart conversation when meeting people in that industry. Save articles about industry trends and news. If you are looking in multiple industries, create a file folder for each industry.

Label another folder Function-your desired job function. Function-Graphic Designer, Function-Programmer, Function-Accountant. Here, you'll put information about your job function. If an article says all graphic designers now must know how to draw an elephant freehand, save the article in this folder. This is where you'll go to prep yourself with interesting topics when you're talking to a hiring manager. If you are looking at several different job functions—say, graphic designer and marketing associate—have a separate folder for each job function.

If you may move to take your new job, label a third folder Geography-where you want to live. Geography-New York, Geography-San Diego. Geography-Paris. Geography-Prague. Geography-Amsterdam. sigh. (I'll start again in a second. Let me live my fantasy life for a moment.) Collect information about cities you might move to in these folders. Collect notes on things to do, the cost of living, the flavor of different neighborhoods, and so on. You'll need this to negotiate a good starting salary, and to decide where to move. I recommend a neighborhood with an ice cream store that makes really good Oreo ice cream cake.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.