Do, Delegate, or Delete It | Ladders

Prioritizing is key to a successful job search.

Do, Delegate, or Delete It

Prioritizing is key to a successful job search.

“Do it, delegate it or delete it,” is a Marine Corps maxim that is applied to any request that comes in – verbally or electronically. It’s the idea behind touching each task only once.

How can this maxim help with your job search?

Many of us begin our search methodically, and with purpose. Yet over time, as multiple leads come in, multiple resumes get written, and multiple phone calls are made, both our desk and our email inbox become filled with requests and exhortations. Neglecting these items paralyzes our thinking and keeps us from moving forward. Instituting this Marine Corps mindset enables you to follow up, and follow through, with greater efficiency.

“That’s all very well,” you might be thinking, “but isn’t it a little simplistic? It’s pretty clear which actions fall into which category.”

In fact, no. Because career changes are often stressful – the stakes are high, and they’re personal – it’s often hard to apply the same logic we use to strategize in other areas of our lives. Here are a few tips for each bucket:

Do It

When a recruiter or hiring manager requests your resume, don’t delay. They are often managing tight deadlines and multiple job seekers and taking your time might lose you the opportunity. Be careful, however, not to do something so quickly that it isn’t professional. For example, when you receive a request to send someone a resume immediately, you might, in that moment, follow Nike’s advice and, “Just Do It,” because you’re so pleased to have gotten the request. But this is when I recommend taking a moment and just doing it right. In other words, take the time to research the company’s mission, its bestselling product and top competition. Tailor your resume and cover letter to guarantee they get noticed. Be sure to position yourself as someone who can contribute to furthering their goals, enhancing their capabilities, or plugging the hole in their operations via skill sets and ideas that are unique to you.

Most importantly, never delegate or delete a networking opportunity. That is always in the ‘Do it’ pile. Don’t consider deleting the task of following up on a connection you got from the guy at the gym. You might not realize that following through would reveal his friend is VP of the firm you’ve been angling for the last six months.

Delegate It

You might think doing research is something you can delegate, but I’ve found this isn’t the best use of delegation. It’s far better to delegate tasks that many of us use as a form of creative procrastination masquerading as ‘necessary’ work: reformatting your resume, updating your website and even getting your interview wardrobe ready.

All of these tasks give you a seemingly unimpeachable response to the question, “What are you doing to further your search?” In fact, they are avoidance behaviors, unless of course you are a designer or web developer. These tasks are generally best handed off to those trained in these skill sets. Not only will you give yourself the time you need to focus on what you alone can do, you’ll likely end up with a far better looking document or site.

Delete It

Delete tasks like multiple resume postings or searching job postings on unsubstantiated websites. Focused follow-through on personal recommendations and with accredited sites are far more likely to yield the results you seek.

So start sorting! Prioritizing is key to a successful search. Get your items in order and start marching forward.

Frances Cole Jones

Frances Cole Jones Frances Cole Jones is the author of " How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Presenting Your Ideas, Persuading Your Audience, and Perfecting Your Image " and the President of Cole Media Management, a communications consulting firm in New York City.

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