Organizing My Job Search with Pinboard

Pinboard Logo

Pinboard, my favorite bookmarking service.

For the past month, I’ve been searching for a new full time job. As anyone can tell you, there are jobs out there — it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you. (Sounds easy, right?)

I’m looking for a position in communications, writing, editing, or web production. That covers a huge variety of positions and industries, and all sorts of jobs come up on, say, Indeed if you search for those keywords. Further, friends and family regularly email me about positions they’ve seen posted. Some of these look like they would be a perfect position for me. Others — not so much.

This leaves me with an information filter problem: how do I sort through and organize these jobs to find the ones that I’m both qualified for and interested in?

The Beauty of Pinboard

This is where Pinboard comes in. Pinboard is an online bookmarking tool that allows you to save and organize web pages for future reference. You might be asking, “Why would I want that? My web browser can store bookmarks for me.” True, but here are a few reasons why Pinboard is better:

  • Depth. I currently have over 5,000 bookmarks stored in Pinboard. Good luck keeping those organized in a web browser bookmarks folder.
  • Ease of use. Pinboard integrates with many other apps I use every day, including Tweetbot, Reeder, and Instapaper. If I read an interesting article in one of those apps, I can save it directly to Pinboard. With the “Save to Pinboard” shortcut, I can save webpages directly from Safari. With IFTTT, I can also automatically archive links from Facebook pages, RSS feeds, or other sources.
  • Tagging. Instead of folders, Pinboard using tags to organize bookmarks. This becomes important in a second.

Pinboard isn’t free — it costs about ten dollars to create an account — but that’s actually something I like about the service. As Pinboard’s owner explained on the site’s blog, charging a fee provides stability and allows him to focus on the service full time. I don’t have to worry about the site’s parent company shutting it down because it’s not profitable or the site selling ads (or my personal information) to make ends meet. There’s also an optional archiving service that, for $25/year, guarantees that articles you bookmark will still work even if the original link changes or gets deleted. If I were a student or working on a long-term research, I would sign up for archiving in a second.

My Job Review Workflow

  1. When I find a job posting, I review it quickly to see if it would be a good fit. If I don’t think it would be, I close the window and forget about it. If I think it might be a good fit for me, then I bookmark it with Pinboard.
  2. Collection: I usually use the Safari “Save with Pinboard” shortcut, which I have set to Cmd–5 on my Macbook. I tag the posting with jobs and set the bookmark to private. (By default, bookmarks in Pinboard are public, so you could share a collection of bookmarks with others.) If the job looks like an especially great fit, I tag it Ajobs.
  3. Review: Every couple of days, I review my bookmarks tagged jobs or Ajobs. Pinboard has a great feature called “Organize” that displays the original URL and your bookmark side-by-side. I check for a few things: Is the job still available? Do I still think it would be a good fit? Do I want to promote the job to Ajobs, demote it to jobs, or delete it entirely?
  4. Action: At any given time, I try to keep 5 to 10 postings tagged with Ajobs. So, whenever I’m ready to apply for some jobs, I simply open by Ajobs tag in Pinboard and start applying.
  5. Archive: After I’ve applied for the job, I change the tag from Ajobs to Ajobsapplied (or jobsapplied if I’ve applied to a lower priority position). This allows me to keep a record of the jobs I’ve applied for. I also add the job application to my Job Search Google Doc, which I’ll write about another day. Keeping track of applications is a requirement for unemployment benefits, but it also helps me follow up more effectively. For example, I can review my LinkedIn network for people who might be able to connect me with the company.

If you don’t want to use Pinboard, you could set up a similar workflow with Evernote, your browser’s bookmarks folder, or any program that lets you save and organize bookmarks.

That’s my workflow. I’d love to hear how others review and organize job listings. What are your tips?