Over the past few days I've been sharing with you the story of how I'm working with Shari, a mid-career training professional who's currently looking for a new job. Yesterday I talked about how Shari and I set up a customized job search dashboard using i-Google. Today I'm going to share some of the other tools that Shari's using to organize her job search.
Calendars are critical for a well-organized job search. One of the big challenges for many job seekers is getting into a work rhythm following a lay-off because the familiar structure to their days has changed so radically. They don't have to be at work at a certain time, nor do they need to work on specific work projects, which can leave many people feeling uncertain about how to structure their daily routine. They say that when you're unemployed, your new full-time job is finding another one, and your calendar can be a valuable ally in that process.
In Shari's case, she's working with a career counselor, so I didn't have to get into the specifics of how to organize her day as I might with another client. What I did want to show her, though, was how Google Calendar could support her job search process. (If you want to see a sample job search schedule, check out this one).
Shari already had a Google account, so we just clicked through to the calendar option and within a few steps she was set up. Then I showed her some of the features of Google calendar that make it my personal calendar of choice:
- A very intuitive quick add feature--I can type in "Interview next Tuesday at 3 p.m." and Google will put the item on my calendar on the appropriate date.
- A description and comment section for each item--I use this to include any key information related to the content of my appointment. For example, if I have to do a call, I'll put the number into the description, along with the names of any other people I'll be talking to in the call. If it's an appointment at an unfamiliar location, I'll run a Google Maps search for directions and then cut and paste the URL into the description so that it's there when I'm ready to go. Shari could also put in the names of people she would interview with or a link to the job opening.
- An option to have your agenda automatically emailed to you each morning. For some reason, this makes me feel like I have a personal assistant.
- Integration with other tools, including i-Google and Jott. The more these tools can work together, the more steps it will save Shari and the more time and energy she'll have to focus on job searching, rather than on organizing and keeping up with paperwork.
These options got Shari excited about using Google Calendar, especially since she was no longer going to be using the Outlook calendar she'd been using with her previous employer. She decided to give it a try and embed it into her i-Google page.
When you're job searching, you're going to want to keep an eye on what's being said about you online. You'll also want to stay on top of research and information in your field so you're current during interviews and you'll want ongoing information about what's happening with specific companies that interest you. This is where Google Alerts come in. These are customized searches that you can set up so that you're automatically emailed every time your search terms appear online. I've written here about how to set them up, in case you're new to the process. You can also download this one-page PDF from Tim Davies.
I explained to Shari that she might want to set up a "vanity alert," which is simply a search for your name. We also discussed setting up alerts for key search terms in training and development and for specific companies that interest her. Then I walked her through how to set one up and suggested that she create more to follow her priority companies and topics.
Shari had mentioned to me in our first conversation that she's a "talker," which is one of the things that has attracted her to the idea of blogging. I also know that when you're job searching, you need to keep track of a million details and pieces of information when you might not be at your computer, so I thought that Jott might be a great option for Shari to consider using.
I've written before about using Jott for personal productivity. Basically it's a free service that allows you to turn voicemail messages into emails. You can also post to your blog or calendar. I've been using my own Jott account for over a month now and it's been a real help.
For Shari's purposes, with Jott she'll be able to:
- Leave herself a voice message about an item to add to her to-do list or some follow-up she wants to conduct after an interview. This will then appear in her inbox as an email when she gets home. So when she leaves an interview, for example, she can leave herself a message to send a thank you note to Jane Hardy and Joe Jones with whom she just interviewed. That "to do" item will be waiting in her inbox. Or if she hears about a job lead while she's away from her computer, she can simply call the information into her Jott account and she'll have a written record of it waiting in her email.
- Use voicemail to add items to her Google Calendar. Once Shari signs up for her free Jott account, she can link it to her calendar. If she's on the road and needs to add an item, she simply calls the toll free Jott number, says she wants to add something to Google calendar and then leaves a message with the appointment details, date and time. She could also use this to create her daily agenda--for example leaving a message to send a thank you note to Jane Hardy on February 14 at 9 a.m. Then when she gets up on Feb. 14, her agenda will be waiting in her inbox and she'll know exactly what tasks she needs to get done that day.
- Blog with her Jott account. Shari wants to set up a blog as part of her personal branding efforts. Once she does, she can link it to her Jott account and create her blog posts via voice mail from anywhere. She can then edit the post when she's at her computer and post it to her blog.
I also pointed out to Shari that she can use Jott to send her husband emails in case he's in a meeting or she wants to leave him a message that maybe is less urgent. She simply has to set her husband up as one of her contacts and then when she calls the toll free number, she can leave him a message that will be converted into email.
Shari loved what Jott might be able to do for her, so we decided that she'd look into signing up for her free account and incorporating that into her job search.
Each of these tools seemed like they would help Shari better organize her job search, so her plan now is to explore how to integrate them into her overall organizational efforts. Again, these are tools she'll need to get into the habit of using. She can integrate Google Calendar into her i-Google page, so it will be right there in her job search dashboard. She'll also need to program Jott into her cell phone and start remembering that she can use it, rather than written notes to keep herself organized. As with all these tools, it's about re-working your processes to make them replace the old ways of doing things and make yourself more productive.
Now that Shari has her job search activities a little more organized, it's time to look at how we can organize and document her skill sets. Tomorrow we'll take a look at how Shari might use Wikispaces to set up her own online portfolio.