At last week's Boston SPIN meeting (the hiring roundtable), a candidate said that he had trouble remembering which resume he'd sent to which company. The good news is that he's customizing his cover letters and resumes. The bad news is he sounds disorganized when a hiring manager or (internal) recruiter calls for a phone screen.I was going to suggest to candidates that they keep a spreadsheet and copies of their cover letters and resumes. (Hey, it's just paper. You can recycle it later.) I was going to suggest a file folder for each company, organized by company name. But, I think there's an even better way.
Take a look at JobFiler and see if an online organization is an even better idea for you.
I briefly looked at the candidate part. I haven't looked at the employer part. Roberta Dulay started the site as a way to manage her own job search. It looks quite useful.
Whether you use JobFiler or your own system, use something. It's ok to say to a hiring manager, “Hang on just a sec while I get your folder, so I can refresh my memory about the job you advertised.” It's not ok for a hiring manager to hear, “Um, who did you say you were again? Did I send you a resume?”
You organize your work. Looking for a job is work too. Organize that work in a way that makes sense to you — but organize it.