You've probably heard that you should treat a job hunt like a job. But without the accountability that comes with a paycheck (and a scary boss), you might let a few important details slide.
Don't! Imagine you're an entrepreneur fishing for clients. You'd be mortified to reach out to the same contact twice, right? You'd also never leave money on the table by not following up with someone interested in your company—it's just bad business.
Treat your product (yourself) with the same seriousness.
1. Organize Your Contacts
If you've ever worked in marketing or PR, you know it's easier to track mail blasts when you have interns. But that's no excuse to do a slap-dash job of tracking people you've reached out to. Start a spread sheet of contacts, with information about their role at the company, their contact info, and how and when you last reached out to them. Consider copy/pasting the email you sent them too, to jog your memory for future follow ups.
2. Research Your Targets
Also worth tracking is your "hit list" of companies that might be good fits for you.
Start a tracking sheet of these as well, with website, blog, and twitter links. Anytime you hear about a company you might be interested to, add it to the list. Then, when you next sit down to do some job hunting, choose two or three companies from the list to catch up with: read press releases, check job openings, and read a little about staff in the department you could see working in.
Take a few notes about who you might reach out to or what job title you might want if it opens up. You'll be prepared when something does.
3. Follow Up
Good salespeople know not to let a hot lead cool. If you've corresponded with someone or had an interview, the lead is at least warm--keep it on the hot plate!
Once you've added a date-of-last-contact tab to your "contact" spread sheet, sort them chronologically at least once a week, highlighting those you last spoke to 2-3 weeks ago. Drop a line to those people. It can be as casual as mentioning news you saw about the company, sharing an update in your own life, or extending an invitation to coffee or an event—anything works. Your main goal is to stay fresh in their minds, and you may be surprised at the bites you get.
4. Dump Bad Leads
No longer that interested in a company? Encounter a mean HR person? Don't be afraid to take them off your list. Regularly clearing your rolodex of dead leads will help keep what can become an overwhelming search feeling manageable.
It will also give you a sense of control over rejections. Color-code a "do not call list" on your sheet with a few notes on what the issue was. Maybe a new contact at the company is all you need to hit it big there—but you won't know unless you're keeping track!
--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com
Networking: How to Remember Names
10 Tips to Beat Job Search Burn Out