Jobhunt administration using a Blog
I am in the middle of looking for a new job. This creates a need for me to keep a fairly decent log of emails and phone calls, to keep track of the dozens of responses I sent based on ads on (mainly) Monster and the handful of leads that actually go somewhere. It occured to me that each lead can be seen as a convenient data entity, with the more or less standard format for a blog (some static text, plus short, dated sections in reverse chronological order, categorised to 2 or 3 levels deep) being a useful way of expressing the relevant data.
The data is laid out as follows, using the same style sheet as the main site, with the 'base' URL being a non-disclosed subdirectory of this Blog. It is non-disclsed, because it could be unfortunate if some of the information recorded fell into the wrong hands. (such as those of any of the people currently considering to hire me). At the same time, I am lucky to have access to the services of an employment coach, who needs to be kept in the loop in a convenient way. In fact, the mechanism I have devised may mean a wholly novel way of communicating between him and his clients.
That said, most of his clients will not have the skills and/or technology that allow me to do this in a particularly easy way: shell access to a blogging site, a blogging site set up with fine-tuned data structure and style and a preference for using vi as a word processor.
As said, a lead is considered to be the fundamental data unit. There are a number of things that are related to the lead, which can be considered static: they do not change over the natural course of the lead. Then there are communications of various nature, such as emails, phone calls and meetings.
The categorisation is in two levels: 'status' and 'company', the latter being the company that would become my employer should this lead follow through completely. When leads change status, I just move the entire directory for a company (containing the full data set) from the 'status' directory it is in now to the most appropriate other one. This invalidates the use of permanent links based on categories, but for this purpose, that does not matter too much.
The alternative (given a pretty unintelligent directory-to-website categorisation scheme) would be to keep the company names as the top level category, with some sort of status indication as a static data element. However, this would make it impossible (within the limits of the tools I use right now) to get an easy overview of 'all the leads that are, for example, currently 'In Progress'.
Per 'lead' page, the top section is reserved for static data. This includes contact information for all people and organisations involved, the job specification, relevant meta-data (such as the reference number for the vacancy such as the agent in question uses) and any other notes or todos.
I have created a style for a 'data' section, with a 'contacts' subsection that lists pure data elements in a compact form, which is floated to the left, so that it does not eat up vertical screen space.
The other big static element is the job spec. I had it as normal text, but it would easily take up more than a screenful, which means the top of the page is wasted. To get around this, I moved the text to the sidebar, which runs down the right of the place, past half a dozen posts. I found that for reading or browsing (parts of) the job spec, this format is no problem at all, whereas it puts the first place for a post quite far towards the top of the page.
The posts (stories, entries, take your pick of terminology) are mostly a record of a communication, such as an email or a phone conversation. Emails are pasted in almost verbatim, with adjustments to cut of repeats of previous messages and excessive headers and footers. In some cases, I have removed social niceties as well, unless they actually represent a bit of data worth recording and preserving. Date of the post is obviously the one on the email.
The title of such a post consists of a marker '[e]' and the email subject. The first paragraph denotes who it was to or from, with myself the unmentioned other party. By putting the email body text in a specially styled
blockquote section, I can add comments about the communication to the same post. This takes away the need to also include the emails I sent about leads to my employment coach.
Phone calls are denoted by a capital P with either a right or left arrow, for outgoing or incoming phone calls, respectively, with the rest of the title being the other party.
The last communication type I have identified is a meeting. These have an '[m]' marker at the beginning, with the other parties named in the title. Thus, '[m] John Doe' can be read as 'meeting with John Doe'. I tend to use the date/time to plan as well as report: a meeting with only a one line agenda summary (the first paragraph) is a planned meeting and will have a date in the (near) future. Past meetings will have more comments added.