The Big Kid Job Search

While everyone else is enjoying the Superbowl, I’m starting to study for midterms and doing my research poster. As a break, I have decided to write about my strategies for tackling the Big Kid Job Search, aka “I need a job before I graduate!”

I have actually taken a month off of job applications to take a break, but I was SOOO in the groove from mid-Fall term to the end of Winter Break (October – December). Here a few fast tips on how to keep organized while applying for post-graduation jobs.

1) Make a folder dedicated to your job search


Figure 1. I named my folder “Senior Year Job Search” and keep it on my Desktop so that I don’t forget about it. Side note: Don’t be fooled by how clean my Desktop looks; it’s usually cluttered with Sticky Notes of 100 reminders for myself.

This is the first step to keeping a careful track of jobs you have applied for. Since the internet is wonderful, all (if not all, then most) job applications these days are submitted online. It can get easy to get carried away, and while you usually get an email confirmation after applying, it’s good to have your own copy. I’ll go further into detail what’s in my job search folder.

2) How to organize your job search folder


Figure 2. Here is how I personally like to organize my job app stuffs.

> Job folder: Anything not inside a folder is my generic resume and generic cover letter. I have two copies of each because the address in the header in one copy is for my New York home address and the other is for my Philly school apartment address. The date of when I last edited the docs are also in the file name (so in this case December 2012). I will explain the excel sheets later on in a bit.

> Job folder > Applied: Though I have a generic cover letter, I try to re-write and edit a cover letter specifically catered for each job position I apply for. So that’s what is in this folder! Each cover letter’s file name is saved as the company of the job, job title, and sometimes location. Example: If I applied for a Microbiologist Technician job at Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals in La Jota, CA I would save the cover letter file as “JJMicroTechCA.doc”

> Job folder > Contracts: Dubbed my “Wishful Thinking” folder. If the time should arise and you get more than one job offer, here is a place to house their contracts! I haven’t done this, but if you are super conflicted you could make an Excel sheet to compare salary and benefits.

> Job folder > Old Edits: This houses older versions of my resume and cover letter. I like to have them on hand just in case I find that  a newly edited resume is not as strong as a previous one or if I need a description of a previous job I have edited out.

> Job folder > Peer Reviews: The best way to  become better at writing your own job stuff is to help others, too!

> Job folder > Sources:  This is sort of a miscellaneous folder. I keep things like .pdfs of special programs big companies have for newly graduated students looking for job experience. Also here is a list of companies that I want to actively mine through their job database.

I have a screen shot of my “projected salary” that the market will most likely offer me based on my job experience, what job title I am applying for, and location of that job. I don’t know entirely how reliable this estimate is, but you can calculate your salary estimation here: It’s great so you at least have an idea of what type of salary you should be looking for (ball park estimate) and maybe an idea if you can salary negotiate an offer.


Figure 3. My very own salary calculator estimate! Keep in mind this does not take into consideration cost of living.  65K in Philadelphia is a lot less money than 65K in a suburban area of Virginia, for example.

3) Excel sheets are an awesome way to organize lists

There are 3 lists I would recommend using. I have blanked out these templates for your reference.

A. Job applied list.


Figure 4. Job applied Excel sheet.

I would recommend making a line entry per job position. I tried grouping all job positions under each company, but it ended up exceeded the text limit of the Excel cell. The great part is you can apply filters to group entries together if it helps you organize better. Also, under “No.” put the number of jobs applied entered in that line. That way you can do a SUM= formula in another cell to find out how many jobs you have applied to so far. I also tend to gray out jobs that have rejected me as an indication of when to start another job application party since I like to do them in large bulk at a time.

B. References list.

This is just handy so you don’t have to constantly go through your emails and phone for contact info.


Figure 5. Reference contacts Excel sheet.

C. Contract comparison list (as mentioned before)

These lists modified could also help out if you are applying for programs, like grad schools.


Best of luck and I hope this helps 2013 grads and everyone else looking for a job or program!


5 comments on “The Big Kid Job Search

  1. literarylydi says:

    I like the desktop background!

  2. I’m subscribed to you, but I have no idea why I don’t get e-mail notifications. :/ Anyway, I’m really impressed by how organized you are. When I was applying for jobs, I had a folder on my desktop, as well, and separate sub-folders for different things. But you bring it to a different level using Excel spreadsheets! 😮

    • Christal says:

      Thanks :)! Job applications scare me X_X So I try to keep everything orderly in case someone calls, and I have to sound like I know what is going on XD

      Haha that’s odd. Must be a WordPress glitch 😦

  3. […] I actually scored a job already! I have been a bit hush-hush about it because I am still in shock. After passing the phone […]

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