Digital Decluttering Tips For A Successful Job Search & Career

There is no way around it. Many of the activities associated with job searching now happen online. Technology has greatly simplified the job search process in some ways, but it has also added layers upon layers of additional complexity. Making a concerted effort to organize through digital decluttering can help.

A great deal of networking happens on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, but also on Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram, and each of these require we maintain a personal profile, each in a different format and with different privacy options to worry about.

Conducting research of prospective employers happens online as well, and can involve reading the company website, searching for recent news articles and press releases, and mining your contacts on LinkedIn to find people you know with a connection to the employer.

The vast majority of job hunters watch job listings online and submit digital applications rather than send hard copy resumes (hint: sending a hard copy resume via “snail mail” IN ADDITION TO your digital application can be a great way to stand out) and many people are dealing with multiple copies of a resume, each for different situations. We have to find ways to keep all this organized.

Of course, in addition to our computers, many of us are juggling multiple connected devices too, such as a phone and possibly a tablet as well. In these cases, we may be doing our best to stay organized using cloud accounts and apps that sync across all our devices, adding another layer of complexity.

Yes, we need to be online. Yet, being online diminishes our attention spans and eats up all sorts of extra time. It’s a common Catch-22 problem that needs to be addressed.

Here then, are 17 digital decluttering tips to help you regain your time. You may want to go through the digital decluttering process immediately, if you are engaged in a job search right now. But, beyond the job search process, there is also value in setting aside at least one day, once every year to evaluate, fine tune, and organize your digital life. Doing so will help you stay focused on priorities and will benefit you in both your professional and personal life.

17 Digital Decluttering Tips for a More Successful Job Search

  • Embrace time blocking strategies and stick to a schedule: Set aside blocks of time for checking emails, engaging on social media, and searching job listings. You’ll be more productive when focused on just one task at a time. Do you find yourself constantly checking notifications? Make a schedule to wean yourself from the habit of checking your phone or email so much.  Set timers that will help you to stick to your schedule.

  • Shut off push notifications: Those chimes are nothing more than distractions that are pulling you away from whatever you SHOULD be focused on. Whatever is causing the distraction will still be there; just deal with it in your own time frame. Shut off as many push notifications for social media and other apps as you can. If you have followed the advice to set a schedule for checking email you can shut off email notifications too.

  • Limit your social profiles: Do you REALLY need to be on every platform available? Cut out those that you rarely use. Identify which ones you use for personal fun and those you use for professional reasons and your job search. LinkedIn is almost essential for job searching and career networking, but consider eliminating others that have become unwanted time sucks.

  • Remove distracting apps: Much of your phone usage comes from unconscious habit. Without much thinking, people shift from Instagram to Facebook, then check the weather and texts before playing their favorite game or checking their news headlines. However, if you use only specific necessary apps, then this will reduce the amount of time that is wasted on your phone. Try deleting the apps for social media sites that you use only for personal connections and only use the web browser of your phone or laptop to engage.


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  • Deep clean your list of followers on social media. Do you know these “friends” in real life? Are they professional associates? Have you ever interacted with them online? Be smart with your social followings and unfriend anyone you don’t know. If you’re willing to form a relationship with these people, keep them and start engaging for a set period of time. Without the engagement, you’re basically sharing information (some of it personal) with a bunch of strangers. On LinkedIn, there may be justification for building a larger network even if you do not know or interact with each and every contact individually, but have a reason for each connection. Connecting with anyone and everyone without a reason will just end up sucking your time and attention.

  • Prioritize and updated the news in your social media feeds. Negative news, political rants, or news that goes against your core beliefs distract and affect your mood. You are in complete control of who you allow on your feed so exercise your right to unfollow or unfriend those who add too much negativity. News about companies you are interested in working for and news about your industry and profession will be helpful to you in your job search and ongoing career management, so DO follow relevant hashtags so this news hits your feed. Then when you are ready to read articles or watch videos related to your industry, those items will be more readily available to you, so you won’t waste time looking for them online.

  • Declutter your email. Six years ago when my laptop crashed while I was at a professional conference, I switched Distinctive Career Services to Gmail, and I’ve never looked back. Gmail makes life easier with their tabs and their labels system, but you still need to implement processes to keep that inbox manageable. Set up filters to send job search related messages straight into a “Job Search” folder and just remember to check that folder daily. You can also sort all your other email this same way.

  • Implement a “touch it or trash it” system for your email. Look at your emails and then decide if you need to: take action, save it, or trash it. No clicking out of the message and letting it sit in your inbox indefinitely. Take an action right there by answering the email, putting it in a digital folder, or deleting it.

  • Declutter your hard drive. Do you really need every version of the resume you were using 15 years ago? Chances are high that the information is out of date, so save just ONE and delete the rest of those old files. A cluttered hard drive also impedes your productivity, often because you can’t find files quickly. Implement a filing system for your job search so you can find necessary files and information quickly and easily without wasting precious time.

  • Replace digital activities with real life activities.  While I am publishing this blog post in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and that complicates networking in many ways, if it is possible, try meeting with a networking contact over a coffee or lunch. Or socialize and network at evening or weekend events. But, even if you are still social distancing for health reasons, remember that there is life away from the computer. Turn the laptop off 30 minutes early to go for a walk. Consider picking up an old hobby or sports activity. You’ll soon start to remember how much pleasure these real-life activities provide and just how much time is wasted on digital distractions.

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  • Opt for live conversation versus email. There are times that a quick message on LinkedIn or an email is most appropriate, but whenever the opportunity arises, pick up the phone or even better, request a video meeting (e.g., Zoom). Only in this way can you make eye contact or hear the inflection in someone’s voice. These subtle nuances are lost in texts and email.

  • Clear out the icons on your desktop screen. Not only do all the extra “shortcuts” slow your computer’s start up capabilities, it will immediately bombard your brain with extraneous images, most of which serve little purpose. Sweep all those icons into a folder to sort through at a later date. Whatever program shortcuts you eliminate, be sure to physically delete that program from your control panel. Now, each day, you can start your job search more calmly.

  • Set a limit on the number of browser tabs you open. Just because your computer CAN open 25 tabs at once doesn’t mean it should! You’ll likely find your computer working more slowly or even crashing from the strain of having so many browser windows open. Limit yourself to 4-5 tabs to limit distractions and then close them up when your task is complete. If you’re afraid of forgetting the URLs for closed tabs, bookmark them in your browser or save them in a notepad file for later use.

  • Utilize cloud storage.  All the files related to your job search are safer in a cloud storage system than on your hard drive. Dropbox and Google use state-of-the art security technology to keep their platforms safe, much safer than your own hard drive. Plus, you’ll prolong the life of your computer and cloud storage makes accessing your files from anywhere a breeze.

  • Utilize a password manager for your computer and your phone. With the onslaught of identity theft and cybersecurity threats, creating unique passwords is even more important these days. However, keeping these passwords safely stored is another problem. Enter the password manager. LastPass has a computer and mobile app for linking your accounts so you can have computer and mobile access wherever you go. No more sticky notes or memos on your phone with all your important information listed for anyone to see.

  • Backup your data regularly. Even if this sounds counterintuitive to decluttering, keeping a backup of your important information can be a life saver in case of a breech or other emergency. Create a backup before you start deleting information off your computer or phone. Store this backup in the cloud and perform these backups regularly once your digital decluttering is complete.

  • Designate one day or night per week to go off the grid:  Yes, being online and connected is essential if you are looking for a job, but designating one day or night per week when you are away from your phone, tablet, or computer will allow you to re-engage with yourself, your family, and friends. Do inform close contacts of this time that you will be disengaging from the online world, so that they will not worry about you and will not feel snubbed.

Technology is a wonderful invention but if we don’t create our own usage rules or boundaries, it can overtake our lives. Finding a balance can be tricky but not impossible.

Take your time going through these steps. There’s no right or wrong way to approach this list; if necessary, close your eyes and point to the tip you want to complete first.

Completing these steps sooner than later is better, only because digital clutter will impact your job search productivity. But don’t feel like you have to complete them all at once. As long as you continue to make progress, you will soon begin to see results and your motivation to continue will rise. Soon you will be organized and you will feel that frenetic energy you feel when you sit down at your computer shift to calm.