Hack Your Job Search: Keep It Organized!

Like many hackers before me, I embarked on my post-MLIS job search over the winter break. As I have only been doing this for about a month, I don’t have any advice – I don’t know if I’ll be successful and, even then, as former hacker Jay pointed out, measures of success are entirely debatable. However, I do have a system for organizing the chaos of job descriptions, resumes, cover letters, transcripts, recommendations (and on and on) and I wanted to share it. The roots of this are in my internship search from last year, but I’ve built on it and I’m finding it more and more helpful the longer I use it. So if you want to organize the snot out of your job search, here’s the method I’ve been using.

I’ve decided to compile all my materials in Google Drive, as I work on multiple different computers throughout the day and I can still access everything I need wherever I am. The first part of my system is a single document that I’ve titled “Deadlines.” I add to this document regularly as I find positions that I’m qualified for and might be interested in applying to. Each position is listed under the due date, including the day of the week as I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me to miss a deadline when I don’t have a solid idea of the timing. I also make a note of any unusual requirements like letters of recommendation or official transcripts, so I can look ahead to tasks that might take more time.

deadlinesThe rest of my materials are organized in their own folder. This has two main sub parts – a folder called “APPLIED” and various others named for the institution that has posted the job opening.


In any of the various institution folders, there are usually three documents – the cover letter, resume, and a page I call “notes.” The notes page has a link to the job opening, though after reading Brenna’s advice in her job search game plan, I’m going to start copying and pasting the entire job listing so I can remember the details if it gets taken offline. I then use this page to break down the qualifications of the position and identify exactly how my experience relates to what the position asks for. This information all goes straight into my cover letter and other application materials.


Once I’ve completed all the requirements for a certain application, this folder gets moved to the folder I mentioned previously called “APPLIED.” This gives me a sense of progress – look at all these applications I’ve submitted! – and keeps everything tidy.

If I’ve applied for a position or the deadline has passed and I didn’t manage to apply, I simply erase it from my document called “Deadlines.” On my internship search last year, I used to keep track of whether or not I applied, let it pass, got an interview, or got a rejection letter through color coding. However, this was really stressful to look at and caused me more anxiety than it was worth. In the future, I think I’ll use sub-folders of “APPLIED” to keep track of similar information.

Another useful feature of Google Drive is that’s it’s super easy to create a copy of a document and then move the copy to a different folder. I tend to use previous cover letters and resumes as templates, so this is a useful tool.

If you’re looking for more, the Job Searching category here at HLS is extensive and full of great advice on all aspects of navigating the job search. Some of my favorites include this collaborative post about strategies, Sam Winn’s battle plan, and Hailley Fargo’s #TheBigSearch.

Do you have job-searching system that works for you? What’s your number one job hunting tip? Let us know in the comments!

*Featured image in the public domain courtesy of Pixabay.

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