It’s not everyday that you find yourself looking for a new job. But what I thought would take a week or two tops, ended up taking almost four months. It seemed that my skills and experience were just not as in-demand as I hoped.
Anyone who has applied for jobs for that period of time knows that things very quickly get out of hand. You forget which companies you have emailed what version of your resume, you lose track of all the email follow ups you planned to make and accidentally end up applying to the same company more than once.
As my job hunt stretched from weeks to a month I decided to get smart about the process and turned to the free task management tool Task Pigeon after reading this post. Given I was unemployed at the time I didn’t want to break the bank and pay for something, nor did I need all the bells and whistles. As a result Task Pigeon suited me perfectly fine!
Task Pigeon was a breeze to set up and was straightforward to use, even if I doubt the intended use case of the product is for a random middle aged unemployed guy to manage his job applications.
The way I used this tool was essentially as my go to dashboard for all things job related. I created a number of categories that followed the follow of the job application process and used the kanban board view in the tool to move tasks from one column to another as things progressed.
I stuck with a fairly straightforward script here:
- Jobs to apply to
- Jobs applied to
- Jobs to follow up
- 1st Interview
- 2nd Interview
- Other Interviews (For everything beyond a second interview)
I didn’t have a category for applications I wasn’t successful with. I simply marked them as complete and moved on.
In Task Pigeon each task has a heading or subject. This is where I put the name of the company and the position that I applied to. For Example “General Manager – Insurance @ Sun Life”. In the task description I would usually cut and paste the text of the job ad to save me clicking on the link over and over again. I also attached the resume I sent to that particular job to the task itself so I could always refer back and/or print another copy of the exact same one.
This little hack was probably the biggest improvement I made in my job prospecting efforts. Before this I essentially sent the same resume to every company. What I found though was that by tailoring the resume to better match the individual company’s requirements and culture I had a much higher chance of getting an interview.
Having 50+ resumes though made it hard to remember who had been sent what. That’s why I essentially attached them to the tasks as I went.
In terms of what my job application funnel looked like I found that for every 10 jobs that appeared interesting I ended up applying for about 6 of those. The others I was either under or overqualified for, where too far a commute or didn’t seem like a strong fit. From those 6 I normally got a first interview with at least 3 of them. Normally this was over the phone. From there I would interview again with 1 or 2.
It seems like this formula should have delivered success straight away, but remember in the beginning I was very picky about what I would apply for and didn’t have the best resume. I would apply for maybe 3 or 4 jobs a week initially, hence why I needed to up my volume of applications and find a way to manage them.
I know Task Pigeon is designed as a task management tool for companies to use internally, but as a personal user I found it to be ideal for what I needed. I found the kanban board feature to be particularly well suited to the job prospecting function I assigned it. I also really liked the simplicity of the tool itself.
While it started as a tool to manage my personal needs I am going to continue to use it in my new role. I don’t manage a team yet, but if/when I do I would introduce them to it as well.
Overall I would rate the positives as follows:
- The software is free (paid plans are available)
- It was very easy to use
- I liked the versatility and ability to select the kanban board display
- It made it easy to move tasks from one column to another and update my job prospecting efforts.
This was a guest post submitted by one of our readers. Chris works in insurance and lives in New York. He found our site after struggling with his job hunt and turned his hand to writing to share some of the knowledge he learned along the way.
- Gavin has 15 years experience as a HR Manager and Leader within large and growing companies. During this time Gavin has seen thousands of resumes and conducted just as many interviews. Gavin has turned his knowledge and passion in this space into a full time profession and launched Jobs in Bradford his career advisory and consulting website.
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