How to Organise your Job Hunt

Feel like you’re getting nowhere, even though you’ve been working hard? Start charting your progress, says Graduate Fog. It’s all about having a system.

One of the things that makes job-hunting so tough for graduates is that you have no way to pace yourself. You don’t know how long you’re going to be jobless for. You might get a call tomorrow saying your search is over — or you might still be plugging away in three months’ time. Which is why, as boring as it sounds, organising your job hunt is key to hanging on to your marbles through this strange, uncertain period in your life.

Why not just get cracking — and then press on? Surely all this ‘getting organised’ business is a waste of time, no? Fine then — you try it. And come back in a week when you notice your motivation sliding and your productivity nose-diving.


1) You can keep track of the nuts and bolts of your job hunt. You’re going to be spinning a lot of plates — so having a central log of information (in whatever form works for you) is vital. Know exactly what’s happening and when — and say goodbye to coronary-inducing application deadline panics.

2) You’ll spot vital clues to what’s working and what isn’t. As we explain in How to Find Vacancies, using lots of different techniques is vital to job-hunting success. Different methods work for different industries. By charting what you’ve done (and what the outcome was) you can see with your own eyeballs which techniques you need to ditch — and which you should be doing more of. Remember, your time and energy are finite resources. Use them wisely.

3) You’ll have proof of your achievements — even if you don’t yet have a job. On those rough days, it’s easy to forget everything you’ve done — and just see a big fat Zero. Looking back over all the work you’ve done will show you how hard you’ve worked. So, you’re still hunting. You’re smarter than you were when you started hunting.


So you waded straight in and started to sink? Don’t fret, it happens to the best of us – and it’s totally fixable. Here’s what to do now:

1) Stop job-hunting. Take 24 hours off from applications and searching for vacancies and spend the day getting yourself organised. It isn’t a waste of time — it’s an investment.

2) Build a system. Ask ‘What would work best for me?’ Some people love spreadsheets, others need spider diagrams. Graduate Fog isn’t going to micro-manage this for you. You’re smart people – do whatever works for you. What kind of tool would help you keep track of your job-hunting progress?

WHATEVER WORKS: Find your own way to plot your job hunt progress

WHATEVER WORKS: Find your own way to plot your job hunt progress

3) Use the system. There’s no point in creating a beautiful rainbow-coloured chart and then not using it. Whatever you build needs to be something you actually use when job-hunting. Add to it, change bits and make sure each task has a column marked ‘Next’ or ‘Action plan’ so you can see what needs to happen now. If you’re not using it, change it so that you do.

4) Make a five minute to-do list. Before you even switch on your computer, make a list of things to do toady. This should be a series of bite-sized tasks that if you completed you would feel like you’d had a good day. Cross each task off as you go. Assign each task to ‘morning’ or ‘afternoon’ if you need more structure.

5) Clarify your motivation. Discipline is only a problem for tasks that you don’t want to do. So switch job hunting to become a task you do want to do. Make two lists: “I want to get a job so that…” and “If I don’t get a job, I can see myself…” You’ll find both lists come in handy when you’re having a bad day.

6) Talk to your parents. If you haven’t already, call a summit with your folks to explain what’s happening. As well as being helpful for them (it’s hard to know how to help a job-seeking graduate), it will be a boost to hear yourself explaining your plan to others. If you know you’re going to struggle with motivation, it can be helpful to promise them regular weekly update meetings.

7) Define your hours. It could be 9am until 5pm, 11am until 7pm… But whenever you work best — and however much time you have — make sure it has a clear start and end. With a task as sprawling as job-hunting, you need to keep it in check. Know when to clock off, shut down your computer and head to the pub to meet your mates – and talk about something other than job-hunting.

*Anything we’ve missed on this subject?
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