Plan Ahead to Get Ahead | How to Stay Organized for Your Job Search

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Ever wished you had held onto some key details from past work to help you land your next job?

Staying organized can save you a ton of time in a job search, and while keeping an up-to-date resume is a great start, what about when a job application asks for more specific additions to standard application materials? Having this information at your fingertips can go a long way in building your confidence while you’re on the hunt.

And even if you’re not currently searching for a new job, you never know when a new project or chance to advance could present itself—it pays to always be ready.

Taking stock of your accomplishments

You likely already have more to offer than you realize. Spend some time identifying a few concrete examples of things you’ve worked on over the course of the last year, or maybe during your most recent job that you’re proud of, that you’ve held onto and referred back to, or that you’ve been given positive feedback on.

What you highlight should pertain to the actual position you’re going for. Looking for work in a creative field? Time to find one or two recent writing samples. Or maybe you took some great photos for your organization’s latest brochure? Read more about how to beef up your portfolio if you’re looking for a nonprofit communication position.

Looking to transition into grant writing or fundraising? Look for examples of data you’ve tracked for your organization, reports you’ve worked on that could show how your skills will transition.

Here are some things you may be asked to provide, or that may be helpful to keep:

  • Press releases
  • News articles
  • Blog posts or website content
  • Social media posts and engagement data
  • Policy briefs
  • Newsletters and open rates over time
  • Annual reports
  • Certifications
  • List of professional development conferences you’ve attended
  • Project plans and lessons learned from projects completed

So what’s missing? Looking deeper could help you find it

If you’ve yet to find that one item that would make you feel great about your application, try looking at it from a different perspective.

  • What committees have you been on?
  • What about volunteer experience? Have you helped shelve books at the library? Sorted food at your local hunger prevention program? Helped coach your child’s soccer team? Don’t discount these experiences. They show prospective employers that your community matters to you and that you’re willing to show up for things that are important.
  • How many participants attended your last training? Any feedback from the training?
  • Maybe you worked on a survey to gain a better understanding of the needs and challenges of the population you’re currently working with? Jot down the list of questions you came up with. This could show a potential employer that you’re capable of holding the bigger picture in mind.

Still can’t find anything? Perhaps you just need some inspiration to see your work history from a different vantage point. Read these tips on crafting a resume to tie your skills into an organization’s stated needs.

Creating what you need

Keeping the above questions in mind, block off part of your morning to review your calendar. Go back a year if you can, or look over the last quarter. You’re searching for key dates or events that didn’t jump out immediately during your initial brainstorm.

Is there anything there to help a prospective employer see why you’re right for this position?

Get a hold of your current job description. When your organization posted that job, what were the skill sets they defined as necessary? What tasks would the job entail? Find the things that show how you’ve completed the tasks necessary to your job.

Getting ready for next time

This process can be a great way to pinpoint the kinds of positions you’re interested in and take note of the materials hiring managers will be looking for.

Spend time reviewing job postings that appeal to you. Notice what these positions are asking for and give yourself six months to build up the skills you’d need for a similar role. Choose one or two things from the list of materials most often requested, and work to create them!

Job searching can be a chance to communicate your passion with the right organization. It can also give you a chance to get clear on what drives you, and stronger at defining and communicating your skill set. Gathering these details should help you get started!

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Let us know what types of things you’ve been glad you held onto! Your insight just may help another reader find their way to a new position.

by
For nearly two decades, Jeannette has been working for nonprofits and helping people identify their strengths. She has experience as an advocate for women and girls in crisis, a volunteer coordinator for adult literacy, and a family literacy instructor.


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Comments

  1. Reply

    Thank you for the valuable article. I like the idea of being always ready to take next step in our professional life. With an always up to date CV and well crafted career file you can some amazing positions in your organization or may be some other firms. Keep writing these. Cheers.

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