Supercharge Your Job Search Using Trello

Career Mar 14, 2016

Finding a new job is a boring and stressful grind. It takes effort with little reward until the end. I wanted to make a next step as Product Manager. After 25 interviews at many different companies I finally landed the job I wanted.

The journey was filled with ups and downs. Rejecting and being rejected. During my job search I devised a system in Trello to streamline the job application process. The system helped me to stay focused on the right things and to keep track of everything that was going on. I also applied agile product management practices, to practice what I preach.

I created the following workflow in Trello:

  • Interesting Vacancies (START).
  • Job Application Backlog.
  • Job Application In Progress.
  • Awaiting Response to Job Application.
  • Plan Interview.
  • Interview Scheduled.
  • Negotiation Offer.
  • Job Accepted (END).

These 8 phases cover the full interview process. From initial interest until accepting a new job. As finding a new job can be a rocky ride, the process would often come to a halt. To keep track of the different phases where the job application process halted I also created four different sinks:

  • Application Rejected.
  • Applicant Not Interested.
  • Company Not Interested.
  • Unable to Reach Agreement.

In true agile fashion, the sinks would provide me with the information required for a feedback loop in order to improve the job application process. The sinks are self-explanatory. I will further elaborate on the different phases which are represented as Swimlanes in Trello.

Interesting Vacancies

This consisted of a long list of all interesting vacancies which I could potentially apply to. The decision to add a vacancy was simply based on my initial impression after reading the job application. I would go through the vacancy backlog regularly to find out more about the company and the vacancy. If I decided to apply after some more research, I would move the vacancy to the lane ‘Job Application Backlog’.

Job Application Backlog

Every weekend I would go through all vacancies in this lane. I would order the job applications by closing date and how much I liked the company. I would then start with the item at the top and work towards the bottom. I would go for quality above quantity.

Job Application In Progress

In this phase I would perform all the necessary work in order to complete a job application, such as:

  • Performing research on the company, competitors and market.
  • Determining the angle for my motivation letter and resume based on the information above in combination with the vacancy description.
  • Adjusting my motivation letter and personalizing my resume.
  • Sending my job application.

I would save all necessary research in Trello by adding attachments and comments for future reference. Then I would move the ticket to the next lane ‘Awaiting Response to Job Application’ after sending the actual application.

Awaiting Response To Job Application

In this phase I would initially do nothing else than wait. If I did not receive a response after two weeks, then I would send them a reminder e-mail to ask what the current status was and when I could expect a response. I would save all of this information in Trello so I could track what was going on.

Plan Interview

Every time I was invited for an interview, whether it would be the first or fifth, I would put the vacancy in this phase. The moment it was scheduled I would move it to the next phase.

Interview Scheduled

After the interview was scheduled I would write down the date, time, location and who would be present at the interview. In this phase I would prepare for the interview by:

  • Reading about the company and the market they are in. What are their biggest challenges and competitors?
  • Practicing the interview. Thinking about the toughest questions they would ask and how I would answer them.
  • Preparing questions to ask to them.
  • Doing research in order to determine a salary range.

The interviews would cycle between ‘Plan Interview’ and ‘Interview Scheduled’, until I would be rejected, reject the company or receive an offer.

Negotiating Offer

In this phase I would attempt to negotiate a better offer. If their best offer was worse than what I would be willing to accept, then I would ultimately reject the offer.

Job Accepted

Open up the champagne and celebrate! It felt extremely gratifying to move my new job in this swimlane. It was also cool to be able to see all the different companies I had visited. If I had not rejected or been rejected, I could have ended up at a very different company than I have now.

Retrospective

Once a month I would go through the job applications in the sinks to try and figure out why I did not make the cut. The goal would be to try and learn from it. To use the information to improve my approach. I do have to say that it is difficult to get valuable information. Every now and then I did retrieve a little nugget of valuable input. This made the overall effort well worth it as the little things together add up to big things.

Conclusion

Searching for a job is very time-consuming. Using a system in Trello offered many advantages above just using e-mail:

  • Being able to track every job application you have sent and the current phase it is in.
  • React based on the information present in the overview. Such as calling to get a response or schedule a interview.
  • Learn from your job interview experiences. Every month I would have a sink with outcomes which I could follow-up on to retrieve valuable information on what I could have done better.

There also are disadvantages. Using the system introduces additional overhead. You need to update the Trello board based on the information in your inbox. This might not be worth it if you apply to few vacancies. But if you are like me and you want to have multiple job offers then it is well worth the effort. Get out of the murky waters of your inbox and go for clarity by using Trello.

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