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9.3 Information You Need to Organize

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn the two categories of job search information you need to organize.
  2. Understand how each piece of information fits into the job search so you capture everything that is relevant.

There are two categories of data and information every job seeker needs to organize:

  • Your overall contact list
  • Your job search–specific list, including information on contacts and activities

Your Overall Contact List

Because networking is so important to your job search, it is not just job-specific contacts that you need to track. Family, friends, colleagues, classmates, acquaintances, and any new contacts specifically for your job search all should be cataloged in one master list or database. Even people who do not seem relevant to your search now may turn out to be relevant:

  • They know someone else who is relevant (remember the networking 2x2 matrix in Chapter 7).
  • They have resources or services (e.g., color printer, copyediting skills) relevant to your job search activity.
  • They are encouraging motivators.

By keeping all of your contacts in one overall list, you easily can move people into and out of search priority and are always reminded that everyone is a potential help to your search.

Your overall contact list should include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Names
  • Mailing address
  • E-mail address
  • Phone numbers (distinguished by home, work, cell, or other)

Your contact list should also be categorized by relationship:

  • Family
  • Close friends
  • Colleagues
  • Classmates
  • Service providers

You can also categorize each contact by priority. Some salespeople will classify contacts in their database in order of how hot the prospect is—that is, how close they are to buying. You might want to categorize by priority of how much contact you want to maintain over the year:

  • A-level contacts are people with whom you want to maintain close contact.
  • B contacts are people whom you might contact every month or every several months.
  • C contacts are people whom you contact just once a year—at the holidays, for example.

You want to maintain your C relationships, but you are not trying to grow them. B contacts are people you are trying to get to know better. B contacts might become A or C contacts once you have a better sense of the relationship.

When you categorize your contacts, you are able to sort and find people for your exact needs. If you need a favor, you would look through family and close friends. If you have a general professional question, you may start with colleagues. If you are working on networking, you might want to look at B contacts specifically so you can find the people you already tagged as those with whom you want to expand the relationship.

Your Job Search–Specific List

Even though your whole list is important to your search, some contacts will be closer to your search outcomes than others. For these contacts, you need to track information beyond just contact information or category. For the search-specific list, this includes everyone with whom you have inquired about your job search. Your well-connected Aunt Mary is appropriate to your job search–specific list because in addition to being family, she works in the industry you are targeting. Informational interview contacts go on this list. Of course, people who interview you are on this list.

For the search-specific contacts, you will want to track the following information:

  • How you heard about them
  • When you first contacted them
  • The quantity of activity involved with them (e.g., how many phone calls, how many meetings, how many attempts to contact or other back and forth)
  • The quality of activity (e.g., what did you talk about, what reactions and rapport were evident)
  • The most current point of contact and the date
  • Any follow-up required (e.g., send a résumé, e-mail John Doe and say this contact referred me)

Key Takeaways

  • You need two lists of contacts: an overall list; and a job search–specific list.
  • You need to track all of your contacts because you need one go-to place for information about your network.
  • You need a job search–specific list because there is additional information to track regarding the contacts for your job search.
  • For your job search contacts, you want to know the activity, dates, and follow-up actions related to your contacts.

Exercises

  1. How are you currently organizing your contact list—cell phone, Outlook, LinkedIn, Facebook, paper address book, business cards you collect?
  2. How do you currently categorize your list, if at all?
  3. If you don’t yet categorize your list, will you use the categories and priorities suggested earlier? If your list is already categorized, is it suitable for your job search activity? Do you need to update any of your contact information or categories?
  4. How in the past have you managed a long-term project where you have to track different pieces of information at different times—on paper, electronically? This may give you some guidance in terms of how you might stay organized with your job search project.