As you search for new careers and jobs, it’s critical you use a contact manager (step two of the 16 steps). Without a reliable system of tracking people you’ve met, spoken to on the phone, emailed and so on, you’re wasting your time and efforts. You’re like a cat chasing its tail and your career search will suffer. Consider this low-cost personal planner tool.
Although I use a software program called ACT! to keep track of everyone for my business, you don’t need to buy an expensive database program. Many software programs are low-cost or free, including Jibber Jobber, which I haven’t tried personally. But unless you’re experienced with software programs, you may spend more time learning a new program than concentrating on your job search.
So whatever contact manager you select, make sure it doesn’t slow you down. If you know how to use Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, iCal on your Mac or other computer programs, please use them. They’re very handy as your contact manager and make it easy to keep up-to-date on all your job activities.
One of the best integrated personal planners, to do lists and task tracking is Google Docs, a free set of online tools that includes a word processor, spreadsheet and other useful software. Combine Google docs with Gmail and and the calendar to increase your productivity managing your job search. Plus you have access to all your information when near a computer with an Internet connection. You can also sync your contacts and calendar to many mobile phones.
Not too handy with computers or software? No problem. Keep everything in a binder or use a personal planner. Here’s what you need to track in your contact manager:
- Names, titles, companies, mailing and email addresses and phone numbers of everyone you contact in your career search.
- Dates and summaries of all contacts with potential employers, mentors and organizations
- A “tickler file” that reminds you what and when to do something: meetings, phone calls, emails and other things to do.
- A way to measure your milestones, goals and objectives, like numbers of contacts or interviews, phone calls or emails per week.
- For Internet research, such as keeping track of keyword research (next step coming up), a place to store Web information.
One suggestion: keep everything together in one place whether you’re using computer software or a day planner. There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting time finding information. Having everything you need if a potential employer calls or you need to do something will save you countless hours. Some job hunters don’t use a contact manager. Well, unless you have a photographic memory (I don’t), you’ll soon lose track of who and when you contacted someone and what’s the next step. A good contact manager makes sure nothing slips between the cracks in your career search.
To prepare for step three of the 16 steps, decide which contact manager you’ll use and get ready to roll-up-your sleeves for an enjoyable career search.
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