After you’ve tidied up your living space, take the time to tidy up your job search.
It seems like all of America is decluttering after binge-watching Netflix’s latest hit, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”
Kondo, a Japanese organizer extraordinaire, travels across the U.S. and shares her KonMarie method of tidying, which involves mountains of clothes, lots of little boxes, and a mesmerizing folding technique. It’s a joy to watch, and it’ll make you want to dive deep into your closet and dredge out all your dirty cluttered secrets. But once you’ve tackled that chore, you can apply a few of these tidying techniques to your job search.
Think about it: By taking some of Kondo’s organizing techniques and applying them to your job search, you could find positions that fit you better, organize your inbox, and maybe even score that dream job — without all the stress.
All it takes is a little tidying magic. Start with these five tips, inspired by our favorite professional organizer.
1. Create a clear image of what you want
Kondo encourages her clients to visualize their end goals. This helps alleviate some of those overwhelming feelings you might have when first starting your journey of tidying up — or starting your job search.
Like decluttering, searching for a job can quickly become overwhelming, but before you get lost in thousands of job listings, take a moment to visualize what you’re looking for. Think of your dream job. What does it entail? Here are a few ideas to get the process rolling:
A company with a mission you feel strongly about
A company culture that promotes creativity
A manager who values your work and actively shows appreciation and gratitude
A flexible schedule that allows you to take time off when the kids are sick
A position that allows you to utilize your best skills each day
Whatever’s on your wish list, take a few moments to clearly picture the life you could have with this new opportunity. By taking time to create this vision now, you’ll be able to stay grounded in your job search — not get lost in a sea of openings that don’t fit your needs and wants.
2. Take your job search one step at a time
Kondo encourages her clients to declutter one category of their home at a time: clothing, books, papers, Komono (miscellaneous items), and then sentimental items. Cutting the process down into these categories helps keep the process manageable.
You can take your job search one step at a time, too. Rather than immediately launching into listing after listing and frantically sending out applications, hash out a game plan. The process will look different for everyone, but the PLAN method can fit almost everyone’s needs. It looks like this:
During the planning phase, you’ll ask yourself basic questions, many of which you’ve probably already addressed when creating a clear image of what you want. Assess your strengths, your weaknesses, your professional experiences, and your end goals.
During the learning phase, you’ll start researching. Dig up information and news about your industry and your profession. Jot down names of companies and important contacts. Take organized notes — either in a notebook or a Word document — to keep track of your findings
During the acting phase is when you’ll start applying to jobs and reaching out to the contacts you’ve gathered.
Finally, you’ll maintain momentum by networking and staying connected to important people in your industry.
By approaching your job search in this four-step fashion, you can help mediate some of your anxieties.
3. Everything has a home
The job-search process can get really messy. This is where Kondo’s more tangible advice can be applied.
Think about where you save those dozens of variations of cover letters and resumes. Are they all on your desktop? How do you keep track of those? If we had to guess, you probably don’t. It’s important to give these documents a home in a designated folder.
Once you’ve submitted each cover letter and resume, rename the files. For example, if you applied to a marketing job with Company X, you could rename the file, CompanyX_Resume or CompanyX_CoverLetter. Then, when you’re looking through your folder, you’ll know which variation you’re looking at. When there’s a similar job you’re applying to, click open that variation for reference.
Once you’ve organized your documents, start organizing your process. Create an Excel sheet to keep track of all the jobs you’ve applied to. Create columns to showcase the company name, the position title, the URL of the job listing, any contact information, and the status of the application.
Be sure to note the date you applied. Then, a week or so later, you can grab the contact information and shoot an email off to follow up on your application. If you’re offered an interview, use the Excel sheet to keep track of dates, times, and phone numbers. If a company politely declines, note that in the application status so you don’t make the mistake of applying again. This Excel sheet can become your job-search home base, allowing you to more easily navigate the process.
4. Apply to jobs that spark joy for you
When you’re looking for a new job, it’s easy to get caught up in the frantic need for income. You’ve taken Kondo’s advice to visualize exactly what you want, but be sure to keep that in mind throughout this process.
Just like the clutter in your home, take a moment to hold onto each job listing (not literally, of course) and ask yourself if it sparks joy. Is this a job you could actually see yourself enjoying? Does the company’s mission align with your ideals? Do your qualifications match? Do you feel excited while exploring the company’s website? If so, apply.
If you don’t feel that spark of joy, hold off for now. You don’t want to waste your time with interviews or get tangled in a job that’s not the right fit. As cheesy as it sounds, stay true to yourself in this process and follow your heart.
5. Thank the opportunities that don’t work out — then move on
If you’re applying to jobs, chances are you’re going to get one of those disappointing, “Sorry, but you’re just not the right fit” emails. That’s OK! Just like Kondo encourages her clients to thank each item they’re getting rid of, you can thank each job that doesn’t work out.
You can show this gratitude within yourself or, if you felt strongly about the position, you can respond to the job rejection. Be polite and concise then leave the ball in their court. Having some closure on your end might help move the process along. Maybe the company will email back with some tips to help your future applications or even give you a second chance.
Applying Kondo’s tips to your job search can help alleviate a lot of the stress, pressure, and even extra hours that come with applying to jobs. Taking a minute to breathe and remember these tips can help you create a more streamlined and less stressful experience.
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