At WIND North last week, Fred Nothnagel gave a presentation on using the CRM capabilities in Microsoft Outlook to manage the job search. One question that came up was alternatives to Outlook for those of us that do not have MS Office. I said I would investigate these alternatives.
CRM is an abbreviation for “Customer Relationship Managment”, also known as “Client Relationship Management” or “Contact Relationship Management”. It is the practice of “using technology [usually software] to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support.” (source).
I looked at two commonly-available open-source CRM tools: SugarCRM and vtiger. If you have a web site, these tools may be available from your web host. My web host, for example, makes SugarCRM available. If you do not have web hosting, I recommend using an alternative tool, as these tools require both a web server and a database. (I’ll discuss alternatives below.) Even if you do have web hosting, I’m not sure these are the best tools, as they have more capabilities than you really need to manage a job search, such as tracking for marketing campaigns, tech support tickets, and sales orders.
Two more practical options are available: Personal Information Management (PIM) systems and job search management web sites.
One job search management web site has been mentioned at recent WIND North meetings, JibberJobber (www.jibberjobber.com). A second one I discovered is CleverCareerist (www.clevercareerist.com). Both offer the ability to manage:
- networking contacts
- job search tasks
- target companies
- job board searches
- resumes and conver letters
CleverCareerist offers a free 7-day trial. After that, it is a paid service, with three levels of plans: Basic ($9.95 per month), Professional ($29.95 per month) and Ultimate ($59.95 per month).
JibberJobber has a free basic service, which allows you to manage up to 75 target companies, recruiters, and job boards, and 250 networking contacts. Silver service ($5 per month) expands that to 1000 companies, recruiters, and job boards, and 1000 networking contacts. Premium Service ($9.95 per month) allows unlimited contacts, companies, recruiters, and job boards.
I have played with both sites a little in the past few days, and I don’t see that CleverCareerist offers any significant benefit over JibberJobber, especially considering the price. You get Premium service from JibberJobber for the same price as basic service from CleverCareerist, making JibberJobber a much better value.
These are the only two job search management sites I found,. If anyone knows of others I missed, I’d be more than happy to hear about them.
Personal Information Management (PIM) software are bascially computerized personal organizers. They can manage:
- Personal notes/journal
- Address books
- Lists (including task lists)
- Significant calendar dates
- Email, instant message archives
- Appointments and meetings
- Fax communications, voicemail
- Project management
- and so forth.
A variety of PIM products are available, many of them have free editions. Here are three I downloaded and played with:
EssenialPIM and EfficientPIM bear a very strong resemblence to current versions of Outlook. PIM XP uses a tree motif for its interface. EssentialPIM, like Outlook, can act as an email client. You can add and manage contacts, tasks, and other calendar entries in all of these products.
Personally, I’m likely to start using EfficientPIM, since I don’t need the email client (I use Mozilla Thunderbird for e-mail). I might use JibberJobber since it’s basic plan is free and can help me manage target companies and recruiters.