What is urgent/important in your job search?

What is urgent/important in your job search?

How can you use your job search time more efficiently? Everyone only has 24 hours in their day. Each of these hours is precious. Once that time is gone, there is no getting it back. Therefore, using your time wisely in your job search is so important. Recently, I had a discussion with another career coach about an individual that was “bragging” that he had submitted 600 applications. Knowing the job search process, we both concluded that this individual, instead of being proud of his accomplishment, should be pondering how to better use his time. With the goal of landing a job, submitting 600 applications is time misspent. There certainly are many better ways he could have used his time and with better results.

The Eisenhower Matrix For Time Management

Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, came up with a matrix, dubbed the Eisenhower Matrix, to prioritize activities by urgency and importance.

Eisenhower Matrix.png


The idea behind the matrix is to determine what activities go into what quadrant and then follow the guidelines of the quadrant to determine how to prioritize activities. With planning, activities in the Important-Urgent quadrant can be minimized to provide additional time for the Import-Less Urgent activities that job seekers often fail to spend enough time on.

Job Search Important-Urgent Activities

In this quadrant are tasks that need immediate attention and are important for job search success. Examples of job search tasks that fall into this quadrant:

  • Responding to company emails from recruiters

  • Returning voice mail messages

  • Preparing for a phone/in-person interview

  • Sending interview thank you notes

These types of tasks should be completed within 24 hours, hopefully sooner for returning phone calls and emails. With planning, activities in this category can be minimized. For example, if you have ample time between when you are scheduled for an interview and when it takes place, you may can move the preparation for an in-person interview from this category to Important-Less Urgent.

Job Search Important-Less Urgent Activities

Many job search activities will fall into this category. Examples of these types of activities are below:

  • Researching companies

  • Networking

  • Reviewing job boards

  • Working with a job coach

  • Applying for a position

These activities you will want to schedule. First, you will need to figure out how much time you have to allocate to these activities. Remember they are important, so allocate a significant amount of time per week to these activities. As an example, you may have only 15 hours per week for your job search if you are employed. You may want to allot 11 hours of that time for Important-Less Urgent activities. You would then budget your 11 hours on the most important activities in this quadrant. For an activity like networking, you may want to allocate several hours and do it in blocks of one hour during the week.

You might be surprised that I have “Applying for a position” in this category and not in the Important-Urgent category. Rarely is this something that you have to do immediately. In fact, you do not want to rush to apply for a position. This is an activity that you want to give thought to before you hit the “Submit” button. Before applying, you will want to research the company, target your resume for the position and network to see if you, or any of your connections, have contacts within the organization. While you do not want to dawdle when you see a position posted, you also want to make sure that you have the strongest application possible. Spending time first on the above can help make any job application more likely to be read and acted upon.

Job Search Less Important-Urgent Activities

These activities are ones that you may want to delegate, if possible. Examples of these activities are the following:

  • Having a personal shopper put together an interview outfit

  • Family members/friends/colleagues sending out introductory emails on your behalf

  • Setting up job board alerts for new jobs

Since this is your own job search, there might not be a lot you can delegate to others. If you are short on time, try to be as creative as possible with this category. It may cost you money to delegate activities to others, but it could be worth it to free up time. While getting a focused, professional resume may be an Important-Less Urgent activity, you can delegate the actual writing of the resume to someone else, such as a career coach or resume writer.

Job Search Less Urgent-Less Important Activities

These are either trivial activities or time sucks. Examples of these types of activities are below:

  • Applying for a position where you do not meet the majority of the qualifications

  • Looking at the same job board multiple times a day

  • Pursuing jobs/companies that are really not of interest

  • Mindlessly browsing through your social media feeds

We are all guilty of some of these (especially bullet point four). These are activities that are not getting you closer to that dream job, though, and need to be eliminated right away. You can’t spend your precious time on these activities and expect job search success.

Your Job Search Calendar

Below is an example of how to set up your calendar to schedule all those Important-Less Urgent quadrant activities so that you tackle them during the week.

Job Search Calendar.png

President Eisenhower was famous for the following quote:

I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.

If you have limited time for a job search, you have to make the most of it. The Eisenhower method is a way to prioritize your activities so that you are doing all the important work that will move you forward in your quest for that dream job. Spend your time on the activities in the two top quadrants (while trying to eliminate too many activities ending up in the Important-Urgent quadrant). Delegate any activity you can think of in the Less Urgent-Important quadrant, and eliminate all time wasters. That way, when asked how many job applications you have sent, you will know that answering 600 means that you have not been efficient with prioritizing the important.


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