Busy searching and applying for multiple jobs? Then you need a proper job application tracker to keep things under control.
It’s certainly true that luck plays a part in job search by being in the ‘right place at the right time’ - and nobody has control over that.
But it is also true that you can make your own luck by being organised - and you are 100% in control of that.
Job search can be very daunting.
At the beginning, it can seem like an enormous task so it's hard not to feel a bit overwhelmed.
The temptation to apply for everything and anything is so strong that you end up submitting application after application in the hope that at least some may result in an interview.
But before you know it, confusion sets in and you forget which jobs you have already applied for, which ones you really wanted over others, and as for contact names, you haven't got a clue.
One solution is to apply for less jobs but in this tough market, that's not really practical.
The other option is to set up a job application tracker.
In this post I am going to show you how a job application tracker can transform the way you feel about the whole job search process and let you gain control to get the results you want.
10 reasons why a job application tracker could be right for you
If you are wondering whether it is worth the effort to set one up, take a look at the following. These are the sort of things that can happen if you are not organised.
You might forget what you have applied for and apply more than once for a job which annoys HR and recruiters
You forget what you have applied for and assume you have applied for positions that you haven’t - which means you miss out completely.
When you call for feedback and are asked “when and how did you apply” you haven’t got a clue and look foolish and unprofessional.
You want to call for a progress report but can’t remember the contact person’s name so you end up not calling in case you offend them.
You forget that you already called for feedback and got an answer but now you are on the phone again, annoying HR and jeopardising your chances of being selected for interview.
A friend gives you a personal contact to send your resume to, but you lose the piece of paper and miss the opportunity.
The friend who gave you the contact name is annoyed with you because you didn’t bother to apply. They had made the effort to highly recommend you to thier company's HR Manager and now they feel embarassed.
The position your friend told you about is now being advertised and you send your resume in, but you get rejected because the HR Manager was expecting it before - but you didn’t send it because you lost that bit of paper.
Your friend knows about other even better opportunities but doesn’t tell you anymore because they feel there is no point.
You have no idea what is happening with your job searchactivities and feel totally de-motivated.
If you have experienced any of these, a job application tracker would be a wise decision but where should you start?
Setting your job search process rules
Before you make any decisions on the type of job application tracker that best suits your needs and lifestyle, you need to establish a plan of action based on what you are ideally looking for.
If you apply for everything you see at the beginning, you could end up getting job offers that you don’t really want before the job offers you really do want.
You will put yourself in the unnecessarily stressful position of “I had better take this in case I don’t get the offer I am hoping for”.
This is why you need an ABC plan in place to kick off your job search.
The ABC of a successful job search process
Sit down with a pen and paper and imagine your ideal job.
What is your job title?
Which type of company?
Where is it located?
What are your job duties?
What is your shift pattern or hours of work?
What benefits would you like within the offer?
Go through this process three times to find your best job, second best and third.
You now have a plan A, B and C.
Be realistic though with this.
For example, don’t put ‘Supervisor’ if you are an Operator and you don’t currently have the skills and experience to back it up.
If that is your goal, then that is great, and you can look at how to achieve that through further training and experience.
For example, one of your criteria could be a position in a large company that can offer you the opportunity to become a Supervisor at a later stage.
However, what you want in your plans now are things that you can achieve now for a potential employer.
Start by conducting your job search for your Plan A job using the criteria you have set up.
If you exhaust plan A jobs and companies, then move on the Plan B jobs.
You might find that you go for A, B and then C yet still you are looking.
Obviously, that is not ideal, but it is also OK. Don’t get disheartened.
Remember to keep going with these plans. Persistance wins the day.
For example, you may have searched for ‘A’ jobs in January without success and have just finished with ‘C’ jobs in February.
Revisit ‘A’ now because more will have come up.
Once you have a few applications out there it is very easy to lose track and feel out of control.
That is why you need to set up your job application tracker before you start applying.
Job Application tracker options
The good news is that you have lots of options available to you.
Whichever you choose, you will need to store the following information.
Let’s start with the simplest of all.
If you are not comfortable with technology or perhaps you just want a break from it, this option may be for you.
However, there are major drawbacks with this choice.
It is so easy to mess things up and end up crossing out information when it needs updating that you could become very frustrated and give up.
I would class this option as better than nothing – but only just.
This is another very simple but in this case very effective method of keeping in control.
Before you start applying for jobs make three spreadsheets, one for each Plan.
Or if you are not keen on Excel you can create a simple table in Microsoft Word or a similar word processor.
Just insert a table and choose the number of columns based on how many categories you want to keep track of (company name, contact information, date applied, and so on) and the number of rows relative to how many positions you're applying for
If you prefer to work online, and have a Gmail account, you can use Google Docs, through which you can create, save and export spreadsheets, in addition to written documents, like your cover letter and resume.
You can also link up with Google calendar to make sure you stay on top of important dates.
Most job sites offer built-in tools to keep track of your applications.
The downside to this method is that you may have to keep track of various lists on different sites, but if you have a one specific job search site you're using , it's not a bad option.
Productivity and specialist Apps
There are also so many free and reasonably priced options out there to choose from and, personally, I would recommend these due to the level of functionality they offer.
Trello is a super simple, Kanaban style way to track any project which can be easily adapted for job applications.
If you enjoy a creative approach this is a great choice becuse Trello’s boards, lists, and cards will enable you to organize and prioritize your job applications in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way.
Alternatively, you can opt for an app that is specifically designed for job search such as Huntr. You won't be disappointed with its ability to keep track of every detail about your job opportunities regardless of where you found them.
It can track notes, dates, tasks, job descriptions, salaries, locations, company data and more.
So, now you know what you want and you have a great method for organising the multiple positions you are applying for, but don’t neglect this last thing to truly keep in control of your job search.
The power of a systematic follow up plan
Don’t just input job applications and results and leave it at that. Make sure you use those columns for feedback and follow up.
It is absolutely amazing how many people don’t do this.
They put in so much time and effort, and also money if they are enlisting the help of professionals, to produce a great resume and cover letter, submit their application and then do nothing.
Nothing at all.
Don’t be one of these people.
Still not convinced it is worth doing?
Think about the following.
If you were rejected for a position, find out why.
It may be that it was because the other candidates were stronger but what if it wasn’t?
What if you had made a big mistake in the way you applied?
If you find out you can correct it for next time.
If you don’t, you will carry on making that same mistake.
If you call for feedback you are developing a relationship with the company or recruiter.
Next time you apply for something you won’t just be a ‘piece of paper’ but a person they know.
You may have narrowly missed this opportunity but if you call and have a chat they may tell you about other positions that are coming up in the future.
Follow up also means saying ‘thank you’ to companies and recruiters.
Always thank people at every given opportunity – for sending a job description through, for giving feedback, for arranging a medical for you, etc.
People like nice people.
People hire people they like.
Be that person to everyone you make contact with.
Even when you land a job, still keep being nice.
Don’t suddenly stop taking calls from agencies or companies because you no longer need them because, the truth is, you might need them tomorrow.