To help recent grads track and manage their job offers and applications, we’ve handed out some Visual Management Boards at recent university open days. Here’s how they’re the right tools for the job…
Getting your first ‘real’ job can seem like a mammoth task – you’ve just handed in your last assignment and suddenly it’s time to decide what happens with the rest of your life. Wow.
The projects we work on at Assurity can seem just as massive at times – and we need systems for whole teams of developers, testers, designers and business people to efficiently collaborate and manage their work to deliver high-quality software. A good system should radiate information and be a visual overview of the progress we are making that we can easily refer back to. Find out more in Peter Sellars' blog post.
One system we regularly use and build upon is called ‘Kanban’. Originally developed by Toyota in Japan to manage Just-In-Time manufacturing and limit Work-In-Progress, Kanban helps avoid waste and focuses your attention on what needs to be done next.
Since landing your first job is your biggest project right now, we are setting you up with the tools you need to keep track and manage your offers and applications. You’ll see that your Visual Management Board has four columns on it. These four columns are broad categories to help group your applications as you progress:
- In progress
Each of these columns will be home to sticky notes and should only have space for three or four of them. This is deliberate.
You should start by filling the left-hand side of your board. Kanban works on a ‘pull’ system, where items progress through the stages as they near completion. For each job you want to apply for, fill out a sticky note with the company and position you’re interested in, plus any supplementary info, and place it in the ‘Applying’ column. It’s important that the most relevant information is easily legible at a distance. We recommend using a sharpie or a vivid for the titles.
Remember that Kanban is about limiting work in progress so once a column starts to fill up, you might have to do some work to move your stickies through the pipeline to make room for new jobs. A great starter would be to send in applications for some jobs you have lined up. Once this is complete, you can move them through to the ‘Applied’ column. We suggest adding a date to the card to help you keep track of when to follow up.
Hopefully, by now, you can see where this is going. We’ve given you some round ‘status’ stickers to keep track of what’s happening once you start getting some stickies into the ‘In Progress’ column:
- Phone Interview
Stick these statuses onto each job sticky as you progress through the various stages of the application process. This column is deliberately a little loose as you’ll be working with multiple organisations. We’ve also given you some blank stickers to customise to different recruitment processes.
When you start to move notes into the ‘Offer’ column, note down the date you have to make a decision by. This will help you manage multiple offers and weigh up your options against jobs still in progress. You should find that the layout and visual cues presented by the board give you overall clarity on the current status of each job application – and on your progress as a whole.
If any stickies don’t make it through the process, feel free to get rid of them if they’re no longer relevant to your job hunt. They’ll just clutter the board and serve as a distraction.
The most important thing to remember is that this process should help you manage and keep track of the multiple concurrent tasks that come with finding a great first job. If you need to write all over the stickies or the board or want to change the layout of the columns, make it your own and make it work for you.
We hope this gives you somewhere to start and a little taste of how we work at Assurity to help our clients deliver high-quality software outcomes.
If you'd like an Assurity Visual Management Board, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details (including postal address) and we'll send you one.
This article was written jointly by Finn Lawrence and Nicole McCallum who also present the following video...