How many balls can you juggle? We’ve seen people keep as many as six in the air, sometimes more during those Cirque du Soleil shows. We’re pretty good with three. But too many things at the same time, and we end up chasing bouncing balls everywhere.
Tracking sent resumes and applications can be much the same. If you’re focusing your job search on two or three employers, it might be easy to know where everything stands. But what if you’re getting your name and experience in front of many people to see what’s out there?
It’s important to find a system to help you identify the progress of your efforts at all times. Ideally, that system will be electronic, so you can pull it up to reference it or update it at a moment’s notice. If Ideal Company calls while you’re sipping a coffee at Starbucks, you want to be able to remember to whom you spoke and when in a big old hurry. An Excel spreadsheet saved to Dropbox or another cloud storage account works well.
When you’re tracking sent resumes and applications, we’d encourage you to include these categories in your spreadsheet. You may find that more, fewer or different ones work best for your specific job search.
- Means of applying (online, in person, via mail)
- Contact information
- Interview dates and notes
- Phone conversation dates and notes
- Follow-up dates and notes
- Thank you sent
If you engage in a lot of email back-and-forth with a company, you might wish to set up a folder in your email account just for that company, too. You can direct all the incoming messages straight to that folder for fast reference should you need to recall the details of a conversation quickly.
Tracking sent resumes and applications also is a good way to help you analyze your job search. It may feel like you’ve reached out to a hundred organizations, when in reality you’ve spent a lot of time completing a few extremely involved submissions. You may look at your list and realize that you’ve omitted an industry or a region and decide to broaden your reach. At the very least, you’ll have evidence that you’ve been working on finding a job.
Set aside a time once a week to review your list. See whether you need to follow up on any resumes or applications and review any notes about your conversations to determine whether you can find a reason to have another.
Unless your next career is with the circus, skip the juggling act and start tracking sent resumes and applications. And let us know what fields and tools you use—we’d love to hear your comments!