Job Search Central is a physical location where you can organize and plan your job search. For many, 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 work space 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 work space 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 cheer you up 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. Always keep your work area open and accessible.
The quality of your life after college may depend upon how organized you are right now. It's time to begin planning for life beyond next weekend.
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. Believe me, there is nothing worse than losing the phone number of the company that just called to set up an interview. Set up and label vertical files to organize information on each and every company in which you have an interest. Set up a computer folder called /Jobs or dedicate a flash drive to your job search. In this way, you can file away information you gather until it is needed and necessary. You may also want to set up files on job search topics you run across. Your copy costs will likely go up dramatically this semester. 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" pad and pen tacked down next to the phone. If you live alone, it gives you an automatic location for capturing information. If you live with others, it can be a lifesaver (or jobsaver) for capturing that critical phone call. 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 message pads available and ask anyone/everyone who answers your phone to use them. If you are personally taking down the information, it is best to take it down directly in a pocket organizer, such as a Day-Timer or Franklin Planner or PDA (more on that coming up) so that it is captured and logged for future reference. As a fallback, make sure you have an organized way for yourself and others to capture the information. Remember "The Roommate Factor"—the probability of your roommate losing the phone number is directly proportional to the importance of the call. Have a central location—a bulletin board on the wall next to the phone—for posting the message.