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Job Search: 3 Online Tools to Stay on Track

They'll make sure you always know where each application stands


If you’re in active job search mode, you know that staying on top of all the networking conversations, job postings and follow-up tasks is no easy feat. But if you don’t keep all those moving parts and pieces organized, you’ll likely slip up and derail your progress.

Help is here.

I’ve just spent time taking a close look at three online tools that can help you better organize and keep track of your job hunt: CareerShift.com, JibberJobber.com and Startwire.com. Two are free and one is pricey. While each works differently, they’re all easy to use and can save you hours of needless frustration.

(MORE: No. 1 Thing to Do When Job Hunting)

Here’s an overview of each:

CareerShift.com

If you’re looking for a one-stop job search solution with a sophisticated interface, you’re going to really like CareerShift.com. Although it’s the priciest of the tools I reviewed — $49.95/month, with discounts for longer-term subscriptions — it’s also the most comprehensive and impressive.

Once you sign-in, you’ll be directed to a main page from which you can access the site’s five main functions:

My Jobs: CareerShift lets you search every job board and company site from within its site. Of course, you can do something similar with a job opening aggregator like Indeed.com, but CareerShift makes it incredibly easy to save and organize all the jobs that meet your search criteria. So instead of having 15 browser windows open while you peruse multiple job boards (and then — whoops! — you inadvertently closed a window) you can search, file and organize the listings from one spot. CareerShift also seamlessly integrates with your LinkedIn account.

My Contacts: If you’ve ever tried finding e-mail addresses or other contact information for hiring managers, you know how time-consuming and frustrating it can be. That’s why My Contacts is my favorite feature on CareerShift.

(MORE: Older Job Seekers, You’re Hired — For Less)

The site uses a patent-pending technology that searches e-mail, telephone and address information for millions of businesses and contacts. I gave it a whirl and was duly impressed. It wasn’t 100 percent perfect, but did a darn good job overall. In fact, I snagged a couple of hard to find e-mail addresses for future reference! This feature alone could potentially save you hours of valuable time during your job search.

My Campaigns: CareerShift automatically tracks your job-search actions and keeps relevant notes so you can more easily follow the progress of your online job applications.

My Documents: The site helps you create your resumé, cover letters and other business documents. Or you can simply upload your existing documents for use on CareerShift.

My Calendar: This is where you can set up appointments, events and schedule critical to-do reminders.

One cautionary note is that you’ll lose access to all your information (other than your documents) once you stop paying for the service. So you’ll want to maintain a separate log of your activities elsewhere. Interestingly, the site freezes your information while your account is dormant, so if you decide to start a new search down the road, you won’t have to build it out from scratch.

(MORE: Who Wants to Change Careers and Why)

THE BOTTOM LINE: Cost aside, if I were in an active job search, I’d definitely consider shelling out money for CareerShift, at least for a month or two. At a minimum, it’s certainly worth signing up for CareerShift’s free half-hour webinar to take advantage of the free 24-hour trial period.
JibberJobber.com

This tool’s creator Jason Alba created JibberJobber.com in 2006 when he found himself frustrated by the lack of useful online tools for job seekers. He’s been growing and perfecting it ever since.

While not as slick or comprehensive as CareerShift, JibberJobber is an excellent, robust tool for getting and keeping your search better organized — and it’s free. I think it should be more than sufficient for most job hunters.

It’s an easy-to-use contact management system (CMS) that takes the guesswork out of the job-search organizing process. JibberJobber makes it simple to remember details such as which job you applied for yesterday and what follow-up activities you need to do today.

You can use the tool to track the companies that you’re interested in, the jobs you apply for, the status of each application (date of first interview, date thank you letter sent, etc.) and any follow-up actions needed.

It also lets you keep track of your job-related contacts: letting you note how strong your relationship is with each person and associate them with your target companies. You can log up to 500 companies and 500 contacts in the free version. (There’s an unlimited number for JibberJobber’s premium services, which begin at $9.95/month. You can cancel your premium services at any time without fears of your data being wiped out.)

JibberJobber also has an interview preparation database plus a good library of job-search articles, books and videos.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Give it a try. The site can be a bit overwhelming at first, but Alba has put together a series of orientation webinars (conveniently broken into nine, 10-minute video segments) and he’s always eager to help newbies.

StartWire

This last tool, which is free, has one main function: It keeps track of the jobs you’ve applied for online and lets you know when your status with them has changed. That way you’ll know faster when it’s time to move on to other possibilities.

Created by a team of recruiting industry vets, job search experts and technologists, StartWire provides automatic application status updates from more than 11,000 employers.

Here’s how it works: Sign up and StartWire will prompt you to upload your resumé and fill in a bit of additional information about yourself and your target job. You can then begin applying for jobs directly there (it aggregates jobs from sites like Glassdoor.com and CareerBuilder.com). After applying, you notify StartWire and it will send you updates whenever your application status changes.

THE BOTTOM LINE: While StartWire is not an all-inclusive organizational solution, it is a nifty tool. Consider using it along with CareerShift or JibberJobber to help optimize the efficiency of your search.

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