By: James Mayr
Ask anyone you know what the best part of their job is, and zero times out of 10 they’ll say, “Applying for it.”
Take this all-too-common situation: Somewhere between your second interview at one company and your fourth email to another, you realize you never confirmed times for that one call, you applied for the same position twice, and you forgot to submit that mandatory writing sample on time.
I know this because I’ve been there. Before I ended up at The Muse, I applied for 183 positions in one summer—and there’s no way I could’ve kept it all together without a way to organize and track my progress.
When hiring a personal assistant seems a bit out of reach (and out of your budget), a good ol’ spreadsheet can save the day. Enter: our customizable and interactive job application tracker on Google Sheets. To download your own copy and get started, click File > Download as > whatever file type you’d like, or make a copy in Google Sheets by clicking File > Make a copy. You only need to insert the role you’re interested in and check off tasks as you complete them. The next step will automatically appear on the left-hand side to remind you what you have to do—like magic!
OK, you caught us, it’s not quite magic. Rather, we created a formula to help you along.
Here’s how to use the spreadsheet:
- Look for awesome companies where you could see yourself thriving.
- Check out job openings at those potential employers. When you see one that’s a great match, add it to a row under the columns “Company” and “Job Posting” (you can write down the name of the role or link the URL for easy access). Also note when you found it under “Date Job Was Found” so you can keep track of how much time you have to apply before the job’s filled.
- Send in your application—including a tailored and proofread resume and cover letter. Once that’s done, check “Yes” under the “Apply” column and note the date next to it. (See, it’s pretty intuitive!)
- Haven’t heard back from the hiring manager in a couple weeks? Send a follow-up email to check on the status of your application, then select “Yes” under “Send a Follow-Up Email” and note the date.
- If you get a call for an interview, congrats! It’s time to prepare. Don’t just work on answering some of the more common interview questions you could be asked—use your initial research into the company, its mission, and its culture to come up with your own questions to ask at the end, too. Once you do that, check “Yes” under the “Do Research” column.
- Do the interview! You’ve got this! (Then check it off under the column “Do Interview” and note the date.)
- After your meeting’s over, make sure to send a personalized thank you note within 24 hours (trust us, it’ll help you make an even better impression), and don’t be afraid to follow up if you don’t hear back about next steps after a couple weeks. Once these are both done, check “Yes” under “Send a Thank You Note” and “Send a Follow-Up Email” and note the dates they’re completed. (If you don’t do them for whatever reason, just choose “No” or “N/A.”)
- Repeat steps five through seven again for the second and third round of interviews.
- Some employers might also require a proficiency test—from a writing assignment to a code project—at some point in the process. If you complete one of these, check “Yes” under “Take the Test” (scroll all the way to the right in the spreadsheet) and follow up after you complete it if you don’t hear back after a while.
- As you make your way through the process, use the “Notes” column to jot down anything interesting or important you want to remember. For example, a coffee date you went on with someone at the company, or a question you want to follow up on after the interview, or the name of the hiring manager that you don’t want to forget.
Finally, feel free to make this spreadsheet your own! If you’re looking for a little more customization, you can change the name of each task or add steps to the process. Or maybe color-coding is more your style—you can use conditional formatting to make the data easier to see at a glance (we’ve done that for you already, but go ahead and choose your own colors).
Don’t let applying for jobs become your full-time job. Take control of your career hunt, and put this spreadsheet to work for you.