Thursday, January 17, 2013

Job Searching 101: Organization

One of the most important things you can do during your job search is keep yourself organized! I have a little system in which I can keep track of the jobs I apply which comes in handy interview time. If you're applying for any and every job you can come across you don't want to be running around like a chicken with their head cut off when you realize you don't remember the job description and it's no longer up there. 

1. Make a Job Folder
You can call it whatever you like. Job. Future careers. Yellow brick road. Just make a simple little folder with your new title.

2. Make sub folders
Now, this may vary depending on what you would put in there. My sub folders are as follows:
  • Documents
  • Interview References
  • Past Cover Letters and Resumes
  • Positions Applied
  • Transcripts and Letters
Included with my sub folders are my current Cover Letter, Resume, and hospital spreadsheet. 

3. Scan your documents and save to pdf
Scan everything that you may or may not need that's related to your job search. Examples include your unofficial transcript, RN license, diploma, BLS card, letters of recommendation, etc. There are programs you can download to create pdf's from the scanner if your printer doesn't do it automatically. If you're printing your unofficial transcript from offline and you use Chrome as a browser an awesome trick is you can print it as a pdf and save it to your computer. No printing and scanning needed. I also recommend saving your current Resume in .docx, .doc, and .pdf just in case! 

4. Sorting your documents
Now comes the easy part! Sorting everything. But it will be time consuming when you first start out. I'm going to go through each of my sub-folders and list everything I keep in there and how it's organized. 

A. Documents: I keep everything in here that doesn't fall in to any of the other categories: BLS card, diploma, RN license, copy of driver's license, etc. You never know what you may need to upload for a job application. 

B. Interview References: This one is pretty self-explanatory. If I come across awesome interview or resume/cover letters articles online I save them to this folder. This is where the Chrome print-to-pdf really comes in handy. I don't need to clog my bookmarks with my resume links and I don't need to print and scan them. 

C. Past Cover Letters and Resumes: I keep every version of my cover letters and resumes. You never know when you may need to go back and see an old one. I usually number them; ex: Cover Letter Template 4. I'll go in to naming the files a bit later. 

D. Positions Applied: This folder goes a little more in depth. Since every single job I applied for so far has been online it has made my life easier as far as organization. Inside this folder I have more mini-folders that are labeled with the month and year. Ex. Nov 12, Dec 12, Jan 13. Inside each folder is the name of the hospital or organization I applied to for that month. Inside the folders for each hospital I have:
  • The resume I used to apply to that position
  • The cover letter I used
  • A copy of the job description (again print-to-pdf)
  • A word doc with the essay or questions I answered for the application
A good rule of thumb is that when applying for a job save it under the folder like this: first initial/last name Hospital Resume/Cover letter. Ex. JDoe Bakersfield Memorial Cover letter. I don't put dates in the file name. If you only have one version of your resume you can keep it as First initial/last name Resume, but still save it under the folder in case you change your resume in the future. It's important to keep track of the exact version of your cover letter and resume that you send out for your future interviews. Same thing for the questions and answers they give you because you don't want to contradict yourself in your interview especially if the managers have a copy of your application with your answers. 

If I apply for more than one position at that hospital I make sure to save the job description as the Position and shift time (if noted). Ex. ICU Nights, New Grad Program, Med Surg 5 Days. I also save the cover letter by adding the position. Ex. JDoe Bakersfield Memorial ICU Cover Letter. 

E. Transcripts and Letters: My unofficial transcripts and my letters of recommendation. Every file is in a pdf and I also have one file that includes 3 of the letters. You can try FoxyUtils MergePDF to combine pdf files into one for free. 

5. Back it all up!
It's not enough to save everything as you go, but save it on an external spot as well. I have a 1 Terabyte external hard drive that I back up to on a regular interval. It cost me about $85, but there are cheaper options. You can get a regular USB stick or if you're more tech enable you can save everything in the cloud. I use Google Drive which is awesome. I save a few nursing job related documents on there, but not everything only because I would take up too much space and I'm not paying for more. I always keep my current Resume and cover letter template upload on my Google Drive so I can have access to it where ever I go. 

You guys are welcome to alter this system and make it your own! If you have any ideas and/or suggestions let me know! The next article I'm going to show you have to be more efficient when filling out those repetitive job applications. 

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