Job hunting is serious business. To be successful, you need to organize your job search like a business. Having a folder labeled "Jobs" buried under a pile of papers on your desk or a bunch of resume files scattered in different directories on a laptop or mobile will not be adequate for long-term survival. You need to set up a control center for your job search, which we will refer to as Job Search Central.
Job Search Central is a physical location where you can organize and plan your job search. For many college students, Job Search Central is located at their desk in their dorm room or apartment. But don't fight for space within the midst of an otherwise unorganized life. Job search requires the utmost in organization to be fully effective.
First, plan out and organize the physical area itself. You need to set up a workspace where you can quickly access your information, make phone calls, and plan out your search. Get a comfortable chair where you can truly do productive work for long periods of time. Make sure you have plenty of desktop space in which to work. And keep the workspace clean and neat, not because Mom asked you to—do it because it will make you more efficient and productive. You might even consider placing some inspirational quotations or phrases on your wall to inspire you and cheer you on when the going gets tough. Even the most effective job search will comprise a series of rejections before the ultimate acceptance. So make your work environment as positive and uplifting as possible.
Once your physical work space is set up, it's time to get organized. Excessive layers of wood pulp strata on top of the desk tend to suck in and obliterate new information, so beware. The "piling filing system" only serves to perpetuate disorganization. Do not make your end-of-year move the only time you sort through the paper mountain. Worse yet, disorganization unwittingly serves as an accomplice to procrastination because of the perpetual feeling that you "can never seem to get organized." And your disorganization can serve as a convenient excuse for not beginning your job search, perpetually putting it off. Master the mountain now, even if it means filing all paperwork in a vertical file marked "General" until it is later sorted. The best solution is to keep any job search docs in digital format on your laptop or mobile. Always strive to keep your work area open and accessible.
As part of a successful job search, you will be gathering and utilizing enormous amounts of information. It is not enough to just write down notes on slips of paper and pile them onto an open corner of the desk. There is nothing worse than losing the phone number of the employer who just called you to set up an interview. You need to organize files with information on each and every company in which you have an interest. If that's on your laptop or mobile, fine. If you're more into paper, that's fine as well. Just make sure it is organized, consistent and accessible. But even if you prefer paper, you still need to be digital as well.
Set up a computer folder called /jobs or dedicate a flash drive to your job search. In this way, you can file your digital information until it is needed and necessary. You may also want to set up files on job search topics you run across. But do not just accumulate and file away worthless information. Always ask: "Will this help me in the future?" Then file it—or discard it.
One of the most basic ways to track information is a simple "While You Were Out" notepad or Post-it notepad along with a pen on your desk. It gives you an automatic location for capturing information. It is amazing how often phone numbers are lost or taken down incorrectly, especially in the college environment. When I hear, "Just a minute, I have to find something to write on," I know that my name, company name, and phone number are being written on a gum wrapper, an empty twelve-pack box, or possibly worse. Make sure you have your notepads available when needed. Just capturing the phone number in your phone is not enough, since direct employer numbers being provided are usually not the ones visible on your phone.