Post Date: January 13th, 2012

Paper-based Tools for Organizing Your Job Search

My special guest today is Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant.  Janet has a knack for seeing clarity in complexity, so late last year I invited her to share her expertise with my readers in a four-part series.

Janet BarclayThese days, people use technology for everything from meal planning to shopping for a new home, but sometimes there’s nothing like good old-fashioned paper for keeping track of important information.

There are essentially three types of paperwork you’ll need during your job search:

1.       Your Career Documents

This first category comprises your resume, cover letter, reference letters, and any other materials that may be included in your career portfolio. To ensure that you can easily produce these during an interview or other meeting, you should keep a supply with you in a three ring binder (with the documents in plastic sheet protectors to prevent damage) or a portable expanding file with enough sections to keep your documents separated. Whichever tool you choose should be in good condition and of high quality to enhance your professional image.

2.       Your Schedule and Activity Logs

Once you’ve determined how much time you can realistically commit to your job search, create a weekly schedule of activities, either in your regular calendar or a special planner for this purpose. Keeping track of the actual time you spend on each activity will allow you to see whether you are on track and to identify any problem areas.

In addition to your time, you will need to record interviews you’ve had, applications you’ve submitted, employers and recruiters you’ve contacted, and networking functions you’ve attended, and you may find it helpful to create an activity log sheet for this purpose. This information will be very useful for determining when to follow up, and it may be requested in the event you are collecting social assistance or Employment Insurance benefits.

3.       Archives  

In addition to your career documents and activity logs, you’ll likely accumulate job postings, company profiles, advertisements, business cards, job fair brochures and other printed information.

The best way to store this type of paperwork is in a portable accordion-type file. To prevent losing small items like clipped newspaper ads and business cards, tape them to a blank sheet of paper on which you can record details about where you got the information, what action you took, and when to follow up (after marking the date on your calendar, of course!).

You might choose to have a section for each type of information, or you might prefer to organize it alphabetically by employer, whatever system works better for you. In either case, take the time to label your sections so you can quickly find what you need when you receive a phone call or other response.

Job searching can be overwhelming, but when you organize your schedule, workspace, and contacts effectively, you’ll be able to stay on track and find your new job more quickly.

I look forward to returning to Maureen’s blog next month with some tips for using technology in your job search.

About the Author

Janet Barclay is a virtual assistant and former employment counsellor who has supported career professionals and other small business clients since 2003. She can be reached through her website


Related Categories: Job Search