Why passive job searches are prone to failure
What started as an email reminder to several of my clients morphed into something I think warrants the attention of most job seekers. The fundamental point addresses why a passive job search doesn’t typically produce desired results and how an active job search, with a strategy, a plan and accountability, does.
It’s not uncommon for job seekers to start with the same kinds of passive efforts people used in the past; they are just using different media. Instead of chasing ads in the paper and Craigslist, they use newer social media tools to troll for posted positions, post their resumes on random job boards and notify friends that they need a job. They announce their dissatisfaction with a current role or new availability on social media platforms with the hopes that anyone reading will miraculously and gladly share information about a perfect opportunity tailored just for the job seeker. This may get attention from an employer, but there is really no guarantee it will be from the right employer and for the right opportunity.
And although social media has changed how we communicate in many, many ways, there still seems to be a sense that posting information about what is needed will draw the desired response and little more action is needed. It’s common to see LinkedIn profiles that state “looking for opportunities” and Facebook pages declaring the need for a new job. It’s assumed that all that is needed is to wait, look for posted positions and apply, wait, have coffee/lunch/drinks with friends and wait some more. Surely, in a hot job market, that’s all that is needed, right? This couldn’t be more wrong. Random efforts produce random results. Finding the right job and achieving your employment goals involves creating a strategy, developing a plan and taking action, thus creating an active job search versus a passive job search. Here are some fundamentals:
- Be realistic about your circumstances and what you need. In most cases, only you and perhaps your career coach, therapist and maybe your immediate family know the specifics about your current circumstances. You may have issues stemming from loss, poor health, anxiety — the list could be long. It’s simply not realistic to separate your personal needs (values, family, health, faith, gender) from your job-search efforts and expect to end up with a situation that supports what is truly most important to you. That doesn’t mean you need to broadcast everything, but it does mean that you need to consider what is right for you versus what everyone else thinks will work. You are ultimately the only one who can really decide if your next move is the right one.
You are ultimately the only one who can really decide if your next move is the right one.
- Get clear about what you are asking for. The problem with a passive search is that in most cases, friends and family want to help but really don’t know how. The minute they see something posted or hear about a job that sounds like something a person is interested in, they’ll alert them. Even though many people consider this “networking,” the issues with this approach are substantial. In many cases, friends and family really have no idea what a person is competitive for, only what they think the person would be good at. There is a huge difference. Someone may think a person would be a tremendously good public relations professional because they appear to be articulate and outgoing and generally like people. The appearance of what the average person believes is needed does not necessarily match what an employer is actually seeking. Beyond the superficial skills, the job requires the ability to write for a number of different media platforms, an address book of relevant connections in a particular field or industry and a track record of having synthesized and shared information from a very goal-driven perspective. An employer may be expecting a portfolio of written communications and a history of doing the same job elsewhere.
- Know what you are competitive for. Well-intended but misdirected helpfulness often ties up time and energy chasing wild geese. Job-growth numbers as a whole may be misleading for many. It is important to know what kinds of jobs are prevalent and which skills are most in demand. If a job seeker has shared only one (or both) of these two points: I hate my current job or I need a new job, then people will blindly react. What is missing is a description of how your skills, experience and aspirations are relevant in the current job market so that friends and family will know better how to help. It’s great to have unfailing support, but it’s even better when those people have a clearer idea of what to listen for and look for. To that end, I recommend taking a very controlled approach to a job search to ensure the best results.
If you begin with the steps described above, you will be ready to take the next steps in your search. Look for my next blog post where I will outline the steps to an effective job search.