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3 Keys to Project Managing Your Job Search

Remember how you set up a great project management system to organize your PhD project?

Yeah, me neither.

Organizing around a process is the foundation of many professional project management responsibilities.  When it comes to your job search, having an organized process for your background research, application materials and other supplementary documents can save you a world of frustration in an already frustrating process.

“If you get in the habit of managing yourself in the lab, it will be that much easier to pick up the same management processes in the workplace.”



Setting Up a Job Hunt System

Here’s a recommendation to help set your priorities and provide some sanity while you’re diving back into that job hunt:

  • Set up a system and process for your target jobs and application drafts, with or without a project management tool. Collect all your documents in an organized place.
    • Document writing or other portfolio samples, and make an organized folder system to easily categorize or store information.  Set up a system to ensure the most recent version of your documents is easy to track.
    • Ask yourself: can I pull up a report of the latest applications or project tasks I’ve done? Can I quickly see what the results were?
    • This may sound deceptively simple, but how many of us actually do this?
  • Set up a calendar with timelines for your tasks or experiments. Timelines always change in research, but it’s also true everywhere else. Get in a habit of planning and sticking to the plan.  This will serve you well to help get you in the habit of reprioritizing, saying no to distractions, and practicing the art of time management.
  • Use a file back up system. Dropbox or Google Drive is great for this. Don’t lose days of your life when your harddrive crashes in the middle of writing a manuscript, analyzing data or creating a complicated spreadsheet or presentation. Always have multiple copies of your materials, especially of working documents and vital project results!


By Vay Cao, Ph.D.


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