searching for a job (or keeping your network active when you have
one), your contact information (e.g., who, why, when, what was said
by whom, etc.) is one of your most valuable resources. The
purpose of your contact management system is to help you organize
this information and your search process.
the purpose of networking and searching for work, you use a contact
management system for at least these three things:
1) Contact Info: You want the ability
to record and subsequently search your contact information.
This would include name, nick name, title, company, address, email,
phone numbers, your source, e.g., their website, the name of the
person who referred you, etc. You can also categorize this
info along the lines of “hiring manager”, “networking contact”,
“recruiter”, “former coworker”, etc.
2) Contact History: This
means having the ability to track your correspondence with this
individual and company – it’s a record of your conversations,
emails and letters sent and received, as well as the version,
date, and job objective of the resume you sent them. You’ll
be communicating with a lot of people as well as with different
people at the same company. It becomes very difficult to
remember every conversation or the state of your interaction.
You would like to be able to access and then quickly see where
you are in the process with a given individual/company.
Having access to a contact history is especially helpful when
somebody returns a phone call.
3) Contact process / follow up reminders Think like a sales person. They use
a sales process with multiple steps, and often use sales management
system software to help drive their efforts. Their process
might be: send a letter, follow up a few days later with a phone
call, send collateral, set up a meeting, prepare for the meeting,
etc. It helps to have a process – a search process, contact
process, follow-up process, interview preparation process, etc.
A contact management system helps automate this activity (what
to do next) and when (scheduled reminders).
important thing is that you should maintain and use a system.
You have a number of options for doing this. You don’t
have to buy software, though some options are listed below.
Using a combination of things – a PDA and a paper notebook -- works
almost as well.
are a few options for Windows users:
- Microsoft Outlook – a good
option if you already use it for e-mail, because it allows you
to do many of the functions described above. For an explanation
of how to use Outlook 2000 contact management features go to http://office.microsoft.com/assistance/offhelp/off2000/outlook/,
In the left pane, click on Microsoft Outlook 2000, then under
that, click on the "Using Contacts" folder.
- Microsoft Excel – good
for keeping a history of your activity. See a sample Excel spreadsheet (Virus check it
if you download it) which a member used to track his efforts.
It is simple and effective. To download with most browsers, Right
click on the above link, and save the spreadsheet to your hard
drive. Then, open the spreadsheet directly from your hard drive.
- ACT! – popular contact
management software. $189 from www.act.com
- InfoMagic – useful for
taking notes and organizing your data collection activities, e.g.,
save a copy of a job description that you pulled from a web site.
It doesn’t support email. You can record names, addresses,
etc, but it’s not nearly as good as a PIM (personal information
manager) or PDA for this.
Free at http://www.rocketdownload.com/Details/Home/4730.htm
An enhanced version is available for a small charge.
- Bargain software – the
office superstores, PC discounters and even discount retailers
sell low cost personal information managers. You can use
these to enter names, phone numbers, etc.
addition, you can use a personal digit assistant (PDA). Most of
these come with software that runs on your PC or MAC. These
have an address book, calendar, notes and to-do list capability.
Go to an electronics superstore or www.pcmag.com for information
on these products.