From a grad that’s been there and landed a job: Learning and Organizing

A guest post by UNC senior Courtney Miller. (Thanks for all the wonderful posts, Courtney!)

It’s been a pleasure guest posting on Kelly’s blog (thanks, Kelly!) and I hope I’ve covered helpful tips that you can apply to your job search! Now it’s time for a few final words on how to learn from the job hunting experience and how to stay organized.

On learning:

  • Interviewing. It’s unlikely that your first few interviews out of college will be your best. After an interview, take the time to write down what was said. Take special note of what you did well and what you could have phrased better. Write down the questions that took you by surprise because you never know when you might hear them again. Go over your questions and answers with someone who can give good feedback – a seasoned friend, ex-boss, professor, career counselor, or parent for example. Practice the questions you messed up on with a friend or career counselor so you’ll be ready next time.
  • Pick up new skills in the downtime. You might notice you’re finding job descriptions that mostly fit your skills, but ask for a few skills you don’t have, such as HTML, Web 2.0, JavaScript, content management systems, etc. Now is a great time to try to learn these other skills to add to your resume and flexibility. Expanding your skill set will only improve your candidacy.
  • Etiquette. Constantly watch out for the little things that usually go unsaid in phone or in-person interviews. Manners can go a long way. For example, be conscious of what you’re wearing, your body language, and mannerisms. Make sure you practice your handshake, keep your hands on the table and don’t rock back and forth if you have a chair that pivots. You can also test your phone etiquette knowledge with a quiz on QuintCareers.

On Organization:

  • Spreadsheets. An organized spreadsheet will help you stay on top of deadlines and keep records. Create an excel spreadsheet to track the jobs. Make columns for: company/organization, job title, location of the job, the URL of the post, username, password, date the job was posted, due date, application status, date you turned in your application,  contact person (and the person’s contact info), whether you followed-up or not (and dates), whether you heard from them (and dates), and if you have an interview scheduled.
  • E-mail organization. Every e-mail server is different, but it’s important to come up with an organization system to keep track of correspondence. Create a folder for job search agents, application e-mails, interview correspondence, application confirmations, and networking correspondence. Star or highlight the ones you have not responded to or the ones that contain important information. When you’re applying to ten jobs a day, your inbox can get a little crowded and you need to remember not to overlook or forget to send important e-mails.
  • Computer Files. Create a system for organizing your computer files. Keep all job hunt materials in one folder, “Job Hunt 2009.” Place your most important and used documents in this folder, such as your resume, general cover letter, job search Excel database and reference list for easy access. Create sub folders under this folder for each month and then sub folders for each organization. Save all cover letters, thank you notes, interview questions, and interview notes under the organization’s folder. Keep a separate folder for networking and save important things you learned from each contact and the contact’s information.
  • Paper files. Buy a tabbed accordion folder to keep paper files. Create a tab for each organization you actually interview and keep interview notes, directions or handouts in the section. Also create a tab for useful resources you printed or received and anything else related to your job search that is in hard copy.

One response to “From a grad that’s been there and landed a job: Learning and Organizing

  1. garyalanmiller

    Good suggestions, Courtney. And an add-on note to any UNC students reading this — UCS provides interview preparation in a variety of formats and levels of formality (ranging from just talking through things to complete mock interviews with suits and ties and so forth). Come see us if we can help!

    Gary Alan Miller

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