Finding a job is a job within itself. Between researching companies, finding job openings, updating resumes, and sending applications, there is a substantial amount of time and effort that goes into the job hunt. One way to make the job hunt more successful is to transform from an active job seeker to a passive job seeker.
What is the Difference Between an Active Job Seeker and a Passive Job Seeker?
An active job seeker is defined by Mark Bassett, Director of Executive Search at eNamix, as, “People who need to find a job now. They are usually unemployed, so they are actively applying for jobs, networking, and posting their resumes on the appropriate job boards.”
Conversely, Bassett describes passive job seekers as, “Basically everyone else. They are gainfully employed and reasonably happy, but being career-minded, they are always open to the next step.” These are the individuals who do not have their resumes posted on job boards and are not applying to jobs; however, they can be convinced to consider a given opportunity if it aligns with their best professional interests.
Advice for Active Job Seekers
Before diving into the details of how to become a passive job seeker, we understand most people tend to find themselves as active job seekers for many reasons. Some may have been recently laid off while others currently may be employed but circumstances require a job transition. That said, the number of active job seekers has escalated enormously in recent months due to the extremely high unemployment rate resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Read about why now is the best time for companies to hire here.
One tip for active job seekers is to save job description links in an organized manner, whether that means using an Excel document, Google Sheets, or a different central database that is easy to access. The reasoning for this is when applying to multiple jobs per day, it is extremely challenging to remember the details about various positions. Thus, when a job seeker hears back from a company, saving the job links allows them to find all the pertinent information regarding the particular job.
Active job seekers should also keep track of the jobs they apply to in the same location, including the company, position, date, industry, and which companies have reached out. This equips the job seeker with valuable insight into the quantity of jobs applied to, the longevity of their search, and which roles and industries they are receiving the most interest from. Archiving this data allows individuals to identify trends, as well as analyze what is working and what is not working. Therefore, active job seekers can optimize their job search to make it more efficient and successful.
Benefits of a Passive Job Seeker
There are many advantages of being a passive job seeker, which come from planning ahead and laying the groundwork. By doing work in advance, individuals are preparing themselves for a more fruitful job search when it comes time to make a career move.
- More Control Over Career Trajectory
One of the most significant benefits of becoming a passive job seeker is having more control of career trajectory. Active job seekers are in need of employment, and are therefore more likely to accept a job that does not correspond with their ideal career path. This is because they are not in a position to wait for a perfect position. However, when you are passively job seeking, there is more time to find the best possible opportunities.
- More Trustworthy to Potential Employers
Another benefit, according to John Jeltema, Head of Business Development at eNamix, is passive job seekers are more attractive job candidates to employers. Jeltema states, “Hiring managers are taught that the best job candidates are the ones who are not looking.” This is because if an employer can convince a passive job seeker to leave their current job, which they enjoy for a new opportunity, it proves the candidate truly wants to be at the new company.
Mark Bassett adds, “We can more confidently trust the passive job seeker. Why would the passive job seeker accept a new job unless it was obviously the right fit for them and the next step in their ideal career path.”
- Negotiating Salary
Negotiating salary is more likely to work in favor of someone who is currently employed. If a job applicant is presently employed, potential employers know the candidate has a job to fall back on, and they are in a position to turn down job offers. Therefore, potential employers are less likely to lowball passive job seekers and are more likely to offer the candidate’s desired salary.
How to Become a Passive Job Seeker
Becoming a passive job seeker is not something that can be done with the flip of a switch. It takes time and consistency. However, this is not meant to deter individuals, but rather make it more manageable by breaking it into smaller pieces. By occasionally completing a different task, it makes the job search manageable yet comprehensive.
1) Research Companies and Job Roles
One of the primary factors towards becoming a passive job seeker is continually researching companies and job roles. We suggest job seekers create an Excel document of 10-20 companies they are interested in working for, as well as building a list of job titles and responsibilities that appeal to them. Generating these lists help for a few reasons, including:
- Keeping abreast of trending businesses, industries, and job roles.
- Focuses time and energy on a curated list of companies and positions individuals genuinely want.
Passive job seekers should regularly update the lists with new companies and job roles to ensure they are always focusing their energy on what interests them most.
2) Network Without Alternative Motives
Once the lists are created, passive job seekers can begin fostering relationships with decision-makers at the selected companies. By starting to reach out to people before needing their help, such as wanting an employee referral, job seekers can build organic and meaningful connections based on information gathering and sharing. Thus, both sides are willing and able to help one another in their professional pursuits when an opportunity arises. This could be in the form of a recommendation, reference, introducing the other to a contact, and more.
3) Utilize LinkedIn
Along with networking and researching, working professionals should be using LinkedIn. Passive job seekers should use the platform to regularly update their profiles with their most recent work highlights, creating and engaging with posts, connecting with other professionals, acquiring recommendations, and staying abreast of industry news and trending articles.
Being active on LinkedIn illustrates to potential employers that the job seeker is invested and passionate about their career and professional development. For a complete breakdown of all the different ways to utilize LinkedIn effectively, check out this article from MindTools.
It is okay to be an active job seeker, as most people fall into this category when looking for a job. However, by adopting a passive job search mindset, the strategy becomes more about managing your career as opposed to searching for employment. While it is a long-term strategy, the job opportunities flow more smoothly—and with more successful outcomes.
If you have any questions about additional best practices during the job hunt or the recruiting process, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.