How to Stay Organized in Your Job Search

Career Advice
Woman searching for new job
Woman searching for new job
minute read

It takes effort to find your dream job — and it takes strategy. So, don’t leave your career search to chance. Be deliberate about every step of finding your new career role, so you can be effective without exhausting yourself.

Well-known author Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “The triumph of anything is a matter of organization.” And when it comes to looking for your next career move, a triumph is definitely the goal, right? It’s invaluable to land in a position that allows you to grow and excel, in an organization that’s a good culture fit.

Since the process of finding a job can require intense focus and strategic decision-making, it’s important to set up a system that is productive for you — and positive too. You’ll stay on track, keep up with the to-dos, and feel better about the whole experience of landing your new position.

5 Organizational Steps for a Well-Planned Career Search

Many people don’t enjoy the process of job hunting, but a lot of the sting of it can be removed if it’s handled thoughtfully. And at heart, that’s what organization really is — a thoughtful approach to the task at hand.

1. Start with the basics.

Before you move into your new role, you have to set yourself up to be noticed in the pool of applying candidates. So, the first step in your plan should be to update everything you’ll need to showcase your skills, experience, and personal brand. Schedule yourself a couple of hours each day — times when you feel energized and productive — to review and update each of the following items on this list:

  • Resume — Make sure it reflects new achievements, and includes keywords that relate to the position you’re looking for.
  • LinkedIn profile — Ask for fresh recommendations from recent coworkers, and add samples of recent completed projects.
  • Social media channels — Add fresh photos and new bio lines, with a focus on looking professional.
  • Portfolio or personal website— Upload your latest work samples, preferably with online links so they’re easy to share and see.


Even if you’re not actively looking for a new role right now, calendar time to update your resume, LinkedIn, socials, and portfolio every few months. That way, you’ll be ready right away to apply when appealing future opportunities come up.

2. Clarify what you want in your next role.

While it’s tempting to leap into your career search with both feet in a mad dash, that’s not the best approach. It will cause you to apply for roles that aren’t a great fit, and also take up too much time and energy. Instead, take a moment to breathe, and then really think about what you want in your next position.

  • Create a list of key must-haves (3-5 is a good idea) — things you can’t take on a role without.
  • Make another list of nice-to-haves (as many as you like) — things that make a role more appealing.
  • Consider a list of red flags too — things you know won’t work for you.
  • Use these lists to filter potential roles before filling out applications.


Even if you need to find work quickly, weigh the value of the compromises you are willing to make with these lists. You deserve to find a match between your skill set, values, and personality and the role you accept.

3. Create a set routine for job searching.

There’s a popular saying that’s so true here — if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Nix that, and plan to succeed by arranging a specific and clear routine for your career search.

  • Be realistic about how much you can actually do in a day. You don’t have to do “all the things” — just the ones you can execute well.
  • Block out chunks of time where you can focus exclusively on job search activities.
  • Create a specific space to do this work — perhaps a desk or table in your home where you go every day at a set time to “get to work” on your career.


Setting up a routine that you can count on makes it easier to stay on track with your job search. It also creates space in your day for tasks other than your job search — which can help you manage your time and reduce stress too.

4. Set aside time for networking.

Often, the best job opportunities are the ones that are unadvertised. You may hear about great career roles and open positions as you’re talking with someone you know or engaging with a new networking contact. The job search, in other words, is as much about who you know as it is about doing the legwork of searching.

  • Give yourself permission to engage with the people part of the career world — whether that’s a networking event, a lunch-and-learn, or a coffee date with former coworkers.
  • Choose specific days and times that you’ll dedicate to networking, they become part of your regular routine.
  • Update your network on LinkedIn, and connect with some of your mutuals to give yourself more reach.


Stay in touch with people you have worked with, as well as personal friends, by connecting regularly. That way, when you need to leverage your network for help in a job search, it’ll be a natural part of a thriving relationship.

5. Track applications in your favorite organizational tool.

The job search doesn’t stop with sending in a resume. Practical steps like calling to follow up, reaching out with questions, and sending thank-you notes will help you stand out as memorable. Plus, you’ll have vital information such as application date and contact names and phone numbers when you need them.

  • Create a spreadsheet to keep track of applications, job listings, companies, application dates, and interviews.
  • If you’re a fan of tools like Asana or Trello, use them to plan your career search activities.
  • Use the notes/description section of your online calendar events to record interviewer names and other valuable details that you can later look back on.
  • Set up folders, tags, or labels in your email so you can save and track anything to do with your job search.


Whatever you do, choose methods that work for you, and set aside time to fill in the spreadsheet, tracking app, notebook, etc. Keeping track of things right away will save you headaches later on.

Summing It Up

It takes effort to find your dream job — and it takes strategy. So, don’t leave your career search to chance. Be deliberate about every step of finding your new career role, so you can be effective without exhausting yourself. Staying organized and making strategic decisions will keep you on track until you land in the right role.