The Value of a Kanban Tool in Your Job Search

Written By Barbara Usack

Is your job search organized and efficient? Are you current with popular technology? I was introduced to kanban, started playing with it and was immediately sold on the concept. It’s so simple and just about every component can be dragged and dropped. After some research I selected Trello which I discuss here, but there are many kanban tools to choose from. 

Read on for a tip-of-the-iceberg introduction to Agile, kanban, and Trello. It’s all about tracking workflow, and I use it for my job search processes to manage the workflow as well as contain and organize all pertinent information in one place. 

Agile Overview

As Marla Fishman explained in our first kanban/Trello presentation (December 16, 2020), Agile originated in software development in 2001 with the Agile Manifesto to increase the software development process. The agile approach is collaborative, iterative, and incremental. The short (two- to four-week) fixed-length time boxes rapidly deliver small components of value, so the choice to pivot or persevere based on internal and customer feedback happens along the process. This enables the quick shifting of priorities with each step. If feedback is implemented and changes are needed, it’s at a minimal cost. Multiple industries have adopted the agile approach to help them manage and succeed in sometimes turbulent and often rapidly changing environments. 

The Agile Manifesto provides guidance for an agile mindset. Key agile mindset components are team collaboration with cross-functional self-managing teams, customer collaboration throughout the process, and embracing change to drive improvement to deliver value to the customer. 

Using Trello

In addition to being used in business for team collaboration and workflow, I find it useful for my own projects, particularly my job search. I started with one board and as my search grew, so did my board collection!

To understand the terminology, I likened Trello as a kanban tool to Excel as a spreadsheet tool. In that vein: 

  • Kanban ~ spreadsheet
  • Trello ~ Excel
  • Workspace ~ workbook
  • Board ~ sheet
  • Lists in boards ~ columns in spreadsheets
  • Cards in lists ~ cells in spreadsheets (or sticky notes if you are familiar with that productivity system)

A more visual way is thinking of it as digital sticky notes – columns of sticky notes on a wall that get moved along as the work progresses. Kanban boards are completely customizable and highly adjustable. They help to organize our thought process and therefore the process itself. It is important to consider the purpose of our boards and our process when setting them up. I thought through my job search, how I record progress, and created a board for designed for that. 

When I began tracking my job applications in Trello I transferred those lists from my general job search board into a new board created specifically for my application tracking (BU Job Applications board template.) It includes lists for the progression through each step as well as lists, or buckets, for resources. Each card contains all the pertinent information for its job requisition. I can link each card via URL to the appropriate contact card(s) in my contact board (BU Contacts & Networking board template), and vice versa. You can view the recording of a workshop here for an overview of Agile and a discussion on the use of these templates. 

Some of the things you can do with cards: 

  • Insert Links: to job postings, company websites, or linking cards between boards (contact > < job post)
  • Notes: keep track of phone calls, correspondence, research, and anything pertinent to that card
  • Multiple Checklists: my cards have one checklist per each stage of the process, maybe more
  • Labels: by type, such as employee, recruiter, or hiring manager, and jobs can be labeled by stage (first interview, second interview), by industry, company… whatever works for you!
  • Attachments: job requisition, resume, correspondence, etc.
  • Due dates: can be used to keep track, and may be visible on each Trello board’s calendar
  • and more! 

I invite you to download my templates, complete with notes and instructions, and play around with them. See what works for you and what doesn’t. Either customize them to make them yours or start from scratch if you have a system that works better for you! They were created with the free version of Trello. There is no cost to download or use them.

Please determine if this tool can help you with your job search, and beyond, as you increase your skillset and stay current with technology.

Don’t forget to organize your thoughts so you can organize your board! And remember, the beauty of Agile/kanban is that as you work through your process, changes can be implemented at any point to increase effectiveness and efficiency. And… When I ask you about kanban and I say I can, you can say you can kanban too! 

Note: If you are interested in learning more and would like a deeper dive into my Trello kanban journey including how-tos for each of the components, please see my post coming soon to Mr. Simon at

About the Author: Barbara Usack is a long-time supporter and member of PSGCNJ. She is a proactive problem solver and collaborator with a passion for helping people and creating friendly and collaborative work environments. Barbara also enjoys researching, implementing, and sharing technologies that increase productivity and collaboration. Barbara is currently pivoting into human resources.