4. Record Keeping

An essential that it is easy to let slip if you are not well organised and this will lead to all sorts of difficulties and embarrassing situations.

Why keep precise records?
Income protections and mortgage protection insurance will require you to produce evidence of everything you do to find a job. in addition to sending them copies they also employ verification loss adjusters who visit unannounced and expect to see everything related to your job search from the date of redundancy. If you cannot provide this they will reject or terminate your claim.

Job Centre Plus expect you to show evidence of at least three different things you do each week to meet the requirements of your Jobseeker's Agreement, if you cannot do this your claim will be disallowed whether you are receiving benefits or NI credits only.

Agencies, Aggregators, Potential Employers will have been supplied CV's, applications, cover letters etc. How will you know who was provided with which version, what associated information, referees, what jobs you actually applied for.....

What to keep and how.
My own personal experience has been that JobCentre Plus will accept verification and information on documents other than your signing on register of job search activity. I have taken in my laptop, hard copy documents and even text messages and emails. For a long time I recorded everything on a huge spreadsheet and found it just got to cumbersome.
I now use a simple tried and tested system that enables to to track and find anything and everything relevant to my job search.

My Excel Spreadsheet
I simply list every agency or website aggregator with whom I have registered.
Name, Address, Telephone, Website, contact name and email address,CV and date provided, I also include my website login name and password where required. Since starting this system I have included date of first registration, and update contact names as they change.
To stay at the top of the lists on desktop pile I resubmitted an updated generic CV every two weeks (minimal changes so there was a reason for submission), the CV submission date enabled me to see this so I was always aware of what had and needed to be done. Those agency named contacts with whom I had built a rapport I highlighted and made sure I called them when I updated the CV.
The excel spreadsheet allowed me to operate one day a week without a need for diary reminder or other system so apart from copy documents I didn't need to keep anything else.

My Document Library
I follow a very simple and easy naming convention that enables me to identify and and find anything at any time quickly and easily.
Date-File Description (specifics: job title/description, plus as relevant location, agency reference, employer reference) an example is 20june2012 marketing director michael page MP1432765 via Jobsite 17663524. I save everything by creating a PDF file using a free package called PrimoPDF. PDF files are compact and easy to send as attachments. By using this convention in a structured folder library I was able to go to the Job Centre and simply open the folders to show them what I had been doing and open any file they wished to see. I was also able to email documents to my insurance provider on the date due and they were happy to accept the claim form alone by post. When I applied I saved everything in PDF format in the appropriate folder be that the webpage job description, application receipt, email communications, etc. Any hard copies I received be they letters of printed vacancies I scanned a copy and printed it using PrimoPDF to create a PDF file. 

As the process was so quick I did this as I went and didn't need to waste time filling in record/progress sheets. I generally chased applications where I had specific details at the closing date or within 5 days of application, after that I had found I would be highly unlikely to receive a response.

A PC folder with the title Job Search contains the following folder structure:
  • Resources
  • Job Search Activity
  • Insurance Claims

Within these folders I save everything related to my jobsearch.
Resources contains three folders:
  1. CV's - using the same convention to match applications as PDF documents but I also have a the Word doc files as base templates to adapt as necessary to specific application requirements, however, the convention remains with the description detailing what the CV relates to.
  2. Cover Letters - As with CV's copies as PDF's and Word docs to adapt and rewrite as required.
  3. Portfolio - This is the big substantiation folder with education and training certificates, references, copies of LinkedIn recommendations, examples of my work, published articles commissioned from me or about my work, photographs, presentations etc. It also contains results of on-line psychometric analysis tests, worksheets completed on transferable skills, career history, sample interview question answers, personal profiles etc. This enables me to quickly and easily identify anything that I could use to create a targeted CV, cover letter and to support my applications or as on a number of occasions to send to recruiters with whom I am speaking whilst I am speaking to them. Something I have been frequently complimented on.
Job Search Activity contains a master folder for each month with four folders inside the months folder. ie January 2012 contained four separate folders. The first three contained the obvious content but the fourth is much more than a catch all and provided the specifics on what was happening with those applications that had moved from application to being within the interview selection process.
  1. Job Descriptions
  2. Job Application Receipts
  3. Job Rejections
  4. Associated Documents - Anything relating to my applications that didn't go into the other three files went here and if I was successful in being considered a candidate I created a folder with the prospective employer name and job title. Every call or piece of correspondence relating to the application went into this folder including notes from telephone conversations; all saved as PDF files following the standard naming convention. If the application was still live at the end of the month it was moved to the newly created folder for the next month.
Insurance Claims
One folder with a file name convention
Month Year File Description (claim form, cover letter or anything else required) This convention is simple and easy for finding something at any time. I have one master MS Word cover letter template document that I use monthly to insert relevant information and a list of attachments sent with the letter. 

Commercial Programmes
There are a number of commercial programmes and databases available but I never found them capable of matching my requirements and very time consuming to maintain with levels of data that I never used. a search on Google of cnet.com/downloads will identify these but why waste the money when you can get by with something free and easy to use?