Unemployed Pharmacist: The Search Spreadsheet

Searching for jobs is one thing. Keeping your prospects organized is another.

Search Indeed, The Ladders, Monster Jobs, and other career posting sites. That seems like a logical place to start when you find yourself looking for a new job. Be sure to couple the results of those searches with the leads you gain from your professional contacts, as described in my last article.

Document them all in a 'search spreadsheet,' and this will give you a great overview of your job prospects. This spreadsheet will be your go-to for the next several weeks to months, so be detailed and thorough in your documentation; consider including, for each opportunity:

  • Employer. Indicate the name of the company. There may be more than one opportunity for the same employer.
  • Employer Contact. It is probably best that this be the hiring manager; however, early on in your contact with the employer, it may be a recruiter within the company or a recruiter working for a third party. In addition to a name, collect a phone number, and email whenever possible. You can also include other employees of the company who are involved in the hiring process.
  • Position. List the name of the position, and include the hyperlink to its posting or job description. As you move along in the process, it will be important for you to be very familiar with the title and general description of the role to convey your interest in it.
  • Practice Type. Is this academia, managed care, community, hospital, specialty, or some other area of practice? If you are open to multiple practice types, it may be helpful to have some additional labels on your prospects for sorting and filtering.
  • Location. Where will you be working? You could list the position’s city, distance from home, commute time, or all of the above for each role. And if this is an important consideration for you, as it is for many people, you should have some way of comparing opportunities in terms of your time on the road.
  • Action Taken. Keep track of when and what you did last for each prospect. Did you email the recruiter? Did you complete the online application? Keeping track of these will help you see where you stand, and may be motivating to see what you’ve accomplished in your job search journey.
  • Next Steps. Perhaps the most important thing to document (and take action on) are the next steps. Most hiring managers will have a goal of filling their open requisitions with the best candidate as soon as possible. Best candidates aren’t typically defined as lackadaisical. Be diligent, and follow up when you say you will in order to show your interest in the position, and as a reflection of your work ethic if you were to be selected for the role.
  • Pros and Cons. Have an area to take notes for each position, especially the aspects that set it apart from other opportunities (for better or worse).

As you’re building your prospects spreadsheet, be thinking about personal contacts who may have a connection with each company. Search through your contacts to see if you have any who are employed for the company of interest. Or, reach out to some of your particularly extroverted and connected contacts to see if they know someone within the organization. These are the people that can give you advice moving forward in the application process, and perhaps help you get a foot in the door. Provided you have had a strong working relationship with them, they would also be great candidates for providing you with a letter of recommendation.

Also, I would recommend having some method of assigning a preliminary rank to each opportunity. Granted, you may not have had an interview yet, but you need to have a method of prioritizing the time you put into each opportunity. You may not be able to write that perfect letter of intent for each opportunity—you might not even want to in the early stages of your search. If travel is involved, it may not be possible to fly all over the country interviewing and learning more about every prospect on your list. Thus, prioritizing with some form of ranking will help you focus on the jobs you are most interested in pursuing.

Last, don’t close any doors as you go through your search. The timing of applications being accepted, interviews being scheduled, and offers being made are not going to align for all your prospects. Unless you’ve made a commitment to give a decision or have been given a deadline to decide, do not tell the hiring manager to count you out, unless you are certain the position is not for you (even as a fallback option). Keep your options open for as long as possible without souring your relationship with the hiring manager.

Use your spreadsheet as a tool to narrow down your interview ambitions, and as a tool for preparing for interviews. The interview will be of critical importance for both sides in determining if there is a good fit; I’ll cover that topic in my fourth and final piece in the Unemployed Pharmacist series.