(MoneyWatch) Job hunting is a difficult task, but if you're not naturally inclined towards organization, it can make it all the more complicated. Fortunately, organizational experts exist and can help. I spoke with Deanne Kelleher, founder and president of kAos Group, a firm which specializes in organizing everything.
Kelleher says that the first step in an organized job hunt is getting all your contacts into one location -- be it your Gmail account, a spreadsheet or something else. Once you have that list, here's how Kelleher suggests you organize it:
-- Attach a "category" to each name for easy sorting and retrieval
-- Connect with each person on LinkedIn and join them on other social media feeds
-- Include notes in each person's contact file regarding: Where you met, what you spoke about and what you sent them
--Keep a keen ear for anything personal they might tell you, like their daughter is graduating or that they just got a new dog and add that information into the notes field of their file. These things are perfect icebreakers when you follow up with contacts in the future.
-- Schedule a follow-up date and follow up with an invite for coffee/tea and then a handwritten note, email or article that might be of interest to them. And yes, write that in their "notes" field as well!
With this information all in one place, it's easy to sort and check up and see your status with all your relationships. It may seem weird to write down these types of things down -- and it can be strange in a non-job hunting situation -- but when you are looking for a job, these things are helpful.
Once you've got your people organized (and your list of contacts will grow throughout your job hunt) you need to get your paper -- virtual and hard copy -- organized. Put your resumes in one place, your cover letters in one place, and any other job hunting documents. Kelleher suggests giving the file folder a positive name such as "I'm Awesome," to give yourself a little ray of sunshine in the job hunt.
Keeping email in line is another challenge for the job hunter. Kelleher suggests blind copying (BCC) yourself on your emails. "This allows you to turn that email into a task (probably to follow up) and then file it into the appropriate folder. This prevents time spent scrolling through your sent folder, looking for that one great email that you want to copy and paste because you wrote it so well," she explained.
As you go throughout your job hunt, it can be tempting to stop keeping track of what you're doing, trusting yourself to remember, but Kelleher cautions that you need to continue tracking your contacts, and your emails and everything involved in your job hunt.
Keeping organized can help make your job hunt easier and more successful, which is something we all want.