Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5 Simple Tips for Organizing Your Job Search

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog 

Organize Your Job Search [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Organize your job search to focus on getting hired!

Do you lose track of where and when you have applied for jobs? Do you waste time trying to remember which version of your resume you have used with which employer? Do you neglect to follow up with potential employers because it slipped your mind? Then you are a disorganized job seeker.

Being organized and being introverted often go hand-in-hand because introverts like to focus on details. But this is not always the case. Some job seekers apply for jobs without keeping track of what they are doing. Before you know it, they have a mess of resumes and cover letters, scraps of paper with cryptic notes, and an unknown number of missed opportunities.

So if you are losing time, energy, and job prospects by being disorganized, here are five easy tips for cleaning up your job search so you can focus on getting hired.
  1. Create an email address just for your job hunt: By taking this step, you’ll be able to manage and respond to job search-related emails more quickly. By the way, be sure the email address you use for job searching sounds professional.
  2. Create a schedule and record everything you do and need to do: Create a schedule each day so you are looking for new openings, following up with people as promised, reaching out to potential employers and networking contacts, and researching possible jobs in your target companies and industries. If you create an active job search routine, you are less likely to miss opportunities as they arise. Also spend time each day recording your activities, adding appointments and tasks to your calendar, and saving copies of everything you send to employers. Use your favorite system to track activities and develop a calendar, whether it’s a paper-and-pencil format, a Word or Excel document, or an online tool like Google Calendar. If you are receiving unemployment insurance, this record keeping will be very useful when you report your job search activities to the state.
  3. Create folders on your computer: Use company names for your folders. Be sure to put everything you send and receive from an organization into its folder. Then you’ll never wonder, for example, which version of your resume an employer received.
  4. Avoid little paper notes everywhere: Put all your paper notes into your calendar, your to-do list, or your activity-tracking system. Little pieces of paper are easy to misplace.
  5. Take notes: When you talk with a contact, go on an interview, or learn information about a company of interest, consider taking notes about what a person said, what happened, and what you learned. Put those notes into the online folder named for the company or into your contact records. Also be sure to add follow-up actions to your calendar.
The organizing activities I have described here may sound like a lot of work, but they soon will become second nature and hardly take any time at all. 

One final thought: If you organize your job search but don’t continue to organize, you’ll be right back where you started. Vow to get—and stay—organized in your job hunt.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Plan Your Best Career Path with the OOH

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

OOH Home Page [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook online
to learn more about jobs that interest you.

Don’t let the drab look of a career information website by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) put you off. 

Although it has a plain blue wrapper, the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) site is a rich (but free) online career guidance resource with hundreds of pages of current, useful information on jobs in the United States. In addition to detailed facts on familiar jobs like teachers and accountants, the OOH profiles lesser-known occupations, such as genetic counselors and wind turbine technicians.

Updated every two years, the OOH allows job seekers, the unemployed, students, and others to explore different aspects of occupations. With the OOH, you can access valuable occupational data that can help you make a career choice, career change, and education/training decisions. As you plan your career moves, you owe it to yourself to spend some time with this high-quality tool to learn about your target occupations. The OOH is the most popular publication by the BLS (part of the U.S. Department of Labor) and has been around for many years.

Navigating the OOH Home Page

To get started, go to the OOH home page. The most obvious way to search for an occupation of interest is to enter it in the search box at the upper right. You can also do an “Occupation Groups” search by clicking on an occupation cluster listed on the left side of the home page. If you have certain pay, training, or job growth requirements, search for occupations by using the “Select Occupations By” dropdown lists. You can also do an “A-Z Index” search for job titles or “Browse Occupations” by highest paying, fastest growing, and most new jobs. 

Understanding the Information in Each Occupational Profile

When you get to a page featuring an occupational profile, you’ll see eight tabs: a summary page highlighting key characteristics of the occupation and seven additional tabs, each describing one aspect of the occupation, such as pay or the job outlook. Following is more detail on each part of an occupational profile.

Summary Page

A “Quick Facts” table includes the following information:
  • Median pay
  • Entry-level education
  • Work experience in a related occupation
  • On-the-job training
  • Number of jobs
  • Job outlook through 2022
  • Employment change through 2022


What They Do

  • Definition of the occupation
  • Typical duties
  • Specialties within the occupation
This information may provide good wording to use in cover letters and resumes.

Work Environment

  • Work setting, including potential hazards and physical, emotional, or mental demands
  • Work schedules, including information on hours worked and seasonality of work 

How to Become One

  • Typical entry-level education requirements
  • Typical on-the-job training needed to attain competency in the occupation (if relevant)
  • Licenses, certifications, and registrations (if relevant)
  • Work experience in a related occupation (if relevant)
  • Other experience (if relevant)
  • Advancement (if relevant)
  • Important qualities and skills that are helpful in performing the work 


  • Median annual or hourly wages
  • Chart showing median annual or hourly wages in the occupation in comparison with median annual or hourly wage for all occupations
  • Benefits and union membership (if relevant)
The information in this section may help you in salary negotiations. 


Job Outlook

This page covers projected change in level and percentage of employment, including a discussion of factors affecting occupational employment change, such as industry growth or decline, technological change, demand for a product or service, demographic change, and change in business patterns.

This page also gives job prospects and the expected level of competition (if applicable) and factors that may improve your job prospects.

A table shows employment projections data for the occupations covered in a profile. 

Similar Occupations

This page lists similar occupations with summaries of their job duties, typical education level needed to enter the occupation, and median pay. Similar occupations are selected on the basis of similar work performed and, in some cases, on the basis of the skills, education, and/or training needed to perform the work at a competent level.  This information helps you target occupations related to your past jobs and to find opportunities that may use your transferable skills.  

More Information

  • List of associations, organizations, and government agencies that offer career information for the occupation
  • Links to O*NET (Occupational Information Network), which provides comprehensive information on key characteristics of workers and occupations

Spend Some Time with the OOH for a Better Future

Be sure to include the OOH in your career research! It is very helpful and eye-opening for anyone--even the shyest job seeker--who desires and wants to plan a successful future.

This article was adapted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Teachers Guide.