Tuesday, December 11, 2012

4 organizational traits adult learners need to succeed when looking for a job


Looking for a job can be a job all on its own. Keeping track of open and submitted opportunities, application materials, and employer contact information requires a strong organizational system and a keen eye for detail to help you stay on task. If you're trying to do this while balancing your current job, earning your degree, and family commitments, being organized is even more crucial.

To help you succeed in the job search process, we wanted to flesh out some traits you should master to stay organized and proactive when looking for a new position. Use these suggestions to rev up your job search, stay on track, and ensure you get the interview you've been hoping for.

Be organized and strategic. To ensure a successful and organized job search, you need to approach it as if you were assigned a project at work. The tools you use are as important as the approaches you use.

For those who are not technologically savvy, I recommend getting a journal or binder to keep track of what you're doing. Print out all the job opportunities, submitted cover letters, resumes, and materials. I recommend binders with tabs so that you can separate each job opportunity and include all the information you have for each position. You want to keep track of all the materials that you submitted to each employer so you remember how you sold and positioned yourself.

Use a Word document or Excel sheet to copy and paste all your job opportunities. An Excel sheet is great because you can list each position and company you applied for, as well as the skills you need and what you mentioned in your resume and cover letter. It's important to keep all the information together so when you refer back, you can find everything in one place. The bottom line is to treat your job search like a project: always be organized and strategic.

Manage your time. You need to dedicate efficient time to your job search by creating a timeline to keep you on track. How many hours a day will you dedicate to the search? How much time will you spend researching the companies you are applying to? How many hours will you spend actually completing the applications (resumes, cover letters, etc.)? How many applications will you complete per day or week? Following up is crucial as well, so make sure to put that in your timeline.

While searching for a new job is important, don't overload yourself. Have a life and pay attention to the other things in it so you don't fall behind on other duties or obligations, which could lead to you feeling unproductive. Find a balance so you can keep up with your regular activities while still being efficient with your time.

Pay attention to detail. Many jobs have been lost because a person sent a cover letter to one organization when they meant to send it to another. Make sure each cover letter you send is meant for the person receiving it. Do a little digging to ensure you're sending it to the right person, and address it to them personally.

Before sending any written materials, be it your cover letter, resume, or a simple email, print it out and slowly read it out loud. You'd be surprised at how many mistakes you'll catch that you missed when reading it on the screen!

Communicate effectively. Whether you're communicating through a phone interview, in person, or in a written communication, make sure you are getting your message across. Many people think that emailing a potential employer can be a little informal, but that email is part of your application -- it's the first impression you make. Always be professional, upfront, and effective in what you say and how you say it. And remember to track all communication to stay organized.

When it comes to the job search, it's important that you remember that you are serving as your own manager and employee. You are taking the leadership role in your job search, so you need to be proactive, thorough, detail-oriented, and organized.

Sometimes we get unmotivated or discouraged when the phone is not ringing, but stay positive -- the phone will ring one day! And usually, one phone call will lead to many phone calls. Stay on task and keep these traits in mind to be organized even when the search gets daunting, and you'll be sure to succeed!