Monday, February 1, 2010

Online Tools for Your Career Search

Over the past year, I have been keeping track of the positions I apply to in a spiral-bound notebook. After every query and cover letter, I would write down the date, the name of the company, the position and the person I contacted. Later, I would try to update the entry with any responses I had received or telephone interviews. The method worked, and it was a great way to keep my thoughts organized until, one day, I couldn't find my notebook.

For someone as ingrained in digital technology as I'd like to say I am, I am surprised it didn't occur to me sooner to use online tools to keep track of my career search. It's one of those "No, duh!" moments, complete with a Valley girl accent and an L on the forehead. So, this weekend, I transfered the past two months of my career search to Google Calendar, using the task feature to make notes of jobs I would like to apply to or steps I should take.

So far, using Google Calendar has made my search a lot easier to keep track of. Instead of pages and pages of notebook paper, I can quickly search a calendar to find out when I last spoke to a particular contact and if he or she had responded. The calendar also makes me more accountable--you can see in the graphic below that there was a week I didn't apply to any positions or speak with any contacts. It's a lot harder to ignore inaction, and patterns in when I am applying for jobs are easier to see (in fact, that blank week was the week of my search for a parttime job, which I have not included in this calendar).

Now that I have been using Google Calendar for about a week, I have been looking for other tools to make my career search easier. I already use Google Docs to keep online and accessible versions of my resume and writing samples, and the cart features on a number of job search sites are extremely useful. Xmarks, an extension for FireFox and Chrome, is a great way to keep track of links to the places I'd like to work so I can quickly check on their recent job postings, and I use Reader to keep track of a number of feeds from companies and career advisors. What tools have you used in your search?

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