There are many pieces in the effective job hunt puzzle, pieces that fit together in an intricate web of activity that is far more complex than it appears at first glance. The pros tell you that looking for a job is a job in itself...and they're right. Going after even a single job can be a multi-pronged assault that includes networking with several contacts, attending special events, creating a customized resume and covering letter, conversations with a variety of gate keepers, interviews, performing a number of follow-up tasks and communications.
There are several reasons why this complexity exists:
Your contact network is limited. It's rare that your brother-in-law is best friends with your future boss. Expanding your network makes it is possible that he knows someone who knows someone who knows your future boss, though. This inevitably adds more players to the game of landing a particular job.
Hiring is not a quick process. A job posting might bring in hundreds (and, in some cases, thousands) of applications to review, which is, in itself, a daunting exercise for the recuiter. The Human Resources Department may manage a number of job postings at the same time and, with interviews to conduct and their regular daily tasks to contend with, don't be surprised if months go by without a response to your application. Time is an enemy of organization; without tracking your activities, discussions get forgotten, incomplete tasks disappear into the woodwork, and information becomes obsolete.
Procedure, procedure. Pressure to hire the right candidate has burdened companies with procedures to follow, and that means more interviews, more tests to take and, fundamentally, more things that have to be tracked, prepared and, yes, endured, to land a job. Throw a third-party recruiter into the mix, and the task checklist grows even longer.
You get better at job searching. The unending advice you'll receive (most useful, some not as much) and the experiences you build on means you and the way you market yourself will surely evolve over time. While it may seem like a good idea to replace your older cover letters and "thank you" notes with newer versions of them, the past recipients of these files only reference the older ones, so both sets need to be tracked.
A good job search management tool should allow you to not only serve as a repository for contact information and job details, but it should be the paper on which you write your networking story. Organization will come naturally, and you won't be left wondering what version of your resumé is in the hands of which interviewer.