Planning Ahead

Getting and Staying Organized

One of the key factors in a successful job search is organization. And one of the most important factors in staying organized is planning ahead. As you can see from the Job Search Planning Calendar, there are a number of tasks you can accomplish during the Fall semester and over the semester break which will help you to prepare for the busy Spring semester. Contacting employers to request applications and information, preparing a resume and cover letter, and establishing a recommendation file are all tasks that can be completed during the Fall semester. Here are a number of other items you should consider in planning your time and resources for the job search.


It is important that you keep accurate records during your job search process. Applying for jobs, particularly in the public schools, can require a great deal of paperwork and numerous contacts with various personnel within the system. You should devise a system of record keeping that is comfortable for you and be sure to record every contact you have with a school system. The sample charts below are samples of record keeping devices which include the important factors you should be tracking.

The Job Search Tracking Sheet provides a means to record the basic components of your search (obtaining literature and applications, mailing applications, recommendations and other paperwork, etc.) along with the dates each of these tasks is completed. This form, or a similar device, will allow you to see at a glance those tasks which are complete and those which still need your attention.

The Employer Contact Log can be used to track your progress with each individual school system to which you apply. Each time you speak with a district you should record the name of the person with whom you spoke, the situation in which the contact was made, and the results of the contact (the basics of what was said and any general impressions you had). This will help you remember names and dates so that you can refer back to them whenever needed.


You should plan to invest in at least one professional looking outfit. If you have a suit, plan to wear it for your interviews. Plan ahead to be sure that it fits properly and is cleaned and pressed. If you do not have a suit and do not plan to buy one, another outfit will do. Men should wear a coat and tie. Women should wear a business-like skirt and blouse or dress. Many, if not most, of your interviewers will wear suits for on-Grounds recruiting. Even though you will not dress in a business-like manner in the classroom, the interview is a formal occasion and should be treated as such.

Also remember that the majority of your interviews will probably take place in the spring (April, May, June), so your dress should be appropriate and comfortable for that time of year. Comfort is the key for any interview outfit. Do not wear clothing that is too tight, too warm, or in any other way uncomfortable. Women: do not wear a skirt that is too short or a dress that is too dressy (you do not want to look as though you are going to a wedding!) Do not wear too much perfume or heavy makeup. Be sure to wear comfortable (but professional looking) shoes, particularly for interviews at the school system where you may be taken on a tour of the building(s) and grounds. Your clothing is part of the interviewer's first impression of you and should be planned with great care.

Time Management

During the Spring semester, plan to spend approximately 3-5 hours per week on job search activities, including completing applications, communicating with employers, and sending out correspondence. Plan ahead and consider these and other job search tasks when organizing your schedule. Consult the UCS Event Calendar and transfer these dates and times to your calendar so that you will be sure to work them into your schedule. Plan to use break times (Winter and Spring Break) to complete some of the most time-consuming tasks, or reserve this time for travel if you will be searching for a position out of state. If necessary, consider cutting back on some other activity in order to make time for the job search process. If at all possible, plan to take a lighter academic load during the Spring semester.

Coping with Job Search Stress

As the previous section suggests, the best way to cope with the stress of the job search is to plan ahead and to stay as organized as possible. Try to anticipate the demands the job search will place on your schedule and work around them. Here are some other tips which may help you manage the job search process effectively:

Break the job search down into small, manageable pieces to keep from becoming overwhelmed. Set small goals for yourself with specific deadlines, and then work backwards to determine the steps you need to take to achieve those goals within your time frame. For example, if you decide you want to have your resume completed by the end of the Fall semester, you must have a final critique before the end of classes. That means you must have a rough draft completed and critiqued by Thanksgiving. You must therefore review samples and how-to guides during October so that you can write your first draft during early November. Go through this planning process for every one of your job search goals. Establishing small goals will help you to stay on track, will make the process more manageable and will give you a sense of accomplishment each time you complete a step.

It is a good idea to inform those around you—faculty members, friend, roommates, co-workers or employers, and family members—of your job search plan. Let them know that your job search may take time away from your usual activities, and ask for their understanding, support, and flexibility during this important time. You might want to ask friends and family to consider your job search needs—like clothing and money for travel or other expenses—when planning birthday or holiday gifts.

Ask for help when you need it! Let those around you know how you are feeling and let them share in helping you deal with stress or discouragement. Make time for yourself and be sure to plan a little time for the things you enjoy the most. Try to relax. Hold on to your confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Utilize UCS resources, programs and counseling as much as possible. That's why we're here!!