When you’re trying to find a job, it can feel like you’re juggling everything while spinning four plates and waiting for everything to come crashing down on top of you. There are so many companies to chase, names to remember, websites to trawl… we’ve pulled together some simple ways to keep juggling those metaphorical job-balls without losing your mind – with some handy advice from Jaqueline Jobes, the former talent acquisition adviser at IPG Mediabrands.

Create a document to keep track of job applications

Not only will this make you feel smug and super organised, but you’ll be able to see exactly what you’re doing and, when someone calls you and you’ve totally forgotten which job they’re talking about, you won’t have to go “Er sorry I don’t know who you are”. Which makes them angry. Figure out a format that works for you – if you love Excel, go mad with a spreadsheet. If you’re creative, do some sort of wall mural. Colour code it. Make it out of leaves. Whatever you decide, just make sure it helps you keep track of who you’ve been speaking to and what jobs you’ve been applying for. And if you have a smartphone, it might be worth making it available on there as well in case you’re on the go when you get a call…

Don’t be too honest

If someone rings and you genuinely can’t remember the job they want to talk to you about, honesty is not the best policy. “If you don’t know who I am or need me to keep reminding you of the job you applied to only yesterday, it’s likely you won’t be creating that impression you hoped,” warns Jaqueline. “So the time you searched, the time you applied, the time you waited and the time you spoke – it’s all wasted.” If you get a phone call and you’re stumped, try the classic line: “So sorry, I’m just about to go into a meeting/get on a train, can I give you a call back at [insert suitable time to allow you to figure out who they are]? Great.” Then get your hands on that document you’ve been keeping up to date and look up everything you need to survive a proper conversation, and sound uber-professional in the meantime. You’ve got a meeting to go to! You are very important and on the ball!

Tailor your applications

Not only is it time-consuming, it’s also soul-destroying and really, really tedious. Unfortunately, it’s also totally necessary: applications that have just been sent out to loads of companies are painfully obvious (believe us, we look through a lot of them) and they’re not going to get a second glance. “A surefire way to end up straight in the bin is by sending a generic CV, whilst copy & pasting your cover letter – it just won’t do you justice,” says Jaqueline. “Doing enough to get the call is what you need to be thinking about.” On top of the fact you’re more likely to impress if you alter each application to suit a specific role, you’re also more likely to keep track of which jobs you’ve applied for because you’ve really engaged with each application.

Have a schedule

Yes, not having working hours means you totally could get up at 2pm and start jobhunting in bed, but it’s not going to do you any good. Look after your emotional wellbeing – jobhunting makes it tired and sad and droopy. Having a schedule, and making sure you include breaks, mean you’re more likely to get stuff done and less likely to sit around not wanting to do anything and hating the fact you’re not doing anything. It’s a vicious circle.

Think quality, not quantity

A recent survey found that a third of graduates were applying for more than 20 vacancies a month, and while you reckon it’s upping your chances – it could actually be doing the opposite. “It’s natural to think that applying to loads of jobs will give you a better chance of success – believe me, I’ve been there, I feel for you – but in reality the time you dedicate to each application just isn’t enough,” says Jaqueline. “I want to feel that you are genuinely passionate about the job; that you are eager to talk to me.” This is difficult to portray when you’ve applied for so many jobs you’re not sure what your own name is anymore. Don’t burn yourself out, because  a job is not worth becoming a haunted shell of a person – pace yourself.

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