Are you a passive job seeker? You might be, but don’t realize it!


Are you a passive job seeker? Proactive job search strategies are far more effective than passive ones. However, spending a lot of time on your job search doesn’t necessarily mean you are using proactive strategies. If you find yourself constantly having to wait for the employer to make the next move, you’re likely using passive job search strategies. Let’s have a closer look at some strategies that may appear, on the surface, to be proactive, but are in fact passive.

Spending hours searching the Internet for jobs
Why this is a passive approach: You’re waiting for the employer to make the first move. You may be searching for jobs, but any job posting requires that an employer posted it.
Looking for job postings online is very tempting to do when you’re job searching – it’s a concrete task that can yield a few leads. But if searching for jobs online is your sole job search strategy, you’re wasting your time and energy. An effective job search will be strategic and focused. Spend only about 10-15% of your job search time searching for jobs online. The majority of your job search time should be spent networking and researching specific organizations at which you’d be interested in working.

E-mailing or mailing generic resumes to hundreds of employers
Why this is a passive approach: You’re waiting for an employer to read between the lines of your generic resume to figure out how you’re the perfect fit for their position.
While it may feel like you are being very active in your job search because of the sheer number of resumes you’re sending, this strategy is also a passive, and ineffective, one. Too much has been placed in the hands of chance. What are the chances that your generic one-page resume will address the specific needs of one of the employers to whom you’ve sent it? Don’t play the odds when it comes to your job search; there are many factors related to job search over which you have zero control, so control the factors that are controllable. Identify specific employers in specific geographic locations that you would like to target (about 1-3 organizations per week). Write tailored cover letters and resumes for these organizations. Send 1-3 tailored cover letters/resumes per week, (or more, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize your ability to tailor the documents).

Attending numerous career fairs, but not preparing in advance
Why this is a passive approach: You’re waiting for the employer reps at the fair to figure out you’re a good fit for their organization, even though you know nothing about their company.
Attending career fairs is a good idea and doing so can make you feel very active in your job search. However, simply showing up and handing out your resume to employers without first researching which employers will be in attendance is not particularly effective. Likewise, leaving the fair without following up with any of the contacts you made during the fair is, frankly, foolish! Employer representatives at career fairs see hundreds, if not thousands, of job seekers at every fair. You need to stand out from the crowd in positive, professional ways. Many fairs will give you a list of employer attendees in advance of the fair, so research the employers that are most interesting to you. Write tailored resumes for the employers you’re really interested in. Also, bring a few different versions of your resume that are tailored for specific industries, fields or types of positions. After the fair, be sure to follow up with employers.

Interviewing, but not following up
Why this is a passive approach: You’re waiting for the employer to get back to you.
Remember that follow-up should be an automatic next step after every interview. After going through all the hard work of securing an interview, preparing for it, and acing it, don’t sit back and relax. Demonstrate your genuine interest in the position by sending a thank you note and by completing any tasks the employer asked you to do, (such as sending a list of references, contacting a colleague, submitting a portfolio or writing samples, etc.).

Waiting until you are unemployed to start networking
Why this is a passive approach: I hope this one is obvious.
When you’re employed, you’re more likely to feel happy, secure, and confident, as you should. This is the best time to network! I am not a betting woman, but I would wager that most professionals, (myself included), would much rather interact with a happy, secure, confident colleague than with someone who lacks confidence and exudes sadness and insecurity. Network before you’re ever in full-blown job search mode.

9 comments on “Are you a passive job seeker? You might be, but don’t realize it!”

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Great post.Really need this kind of tips to encourage me to be more "active" in looking for job. Btw, does anyone of you know a site where I can find great job interviewing tips and career advices? I need to check them out. It might help me..

  2. Anonymous Reply

    Great post.Really need this kind of tips to encourage me to be more "active" in looking for job. Btw, does anyone of you know a site where I can find great job interviewing tips and career advices? I need to check them out. It might help me..

  3. Green Jobs Reply

    Its best to target your job area like
    Green Job Seekers should focus on jobs in green area rather than wasting time in applying for all job post in all fields.

  4. Robin Reply

    Great tips! I have been guilty of several of these, but hopefully I will fare better in the future.

  5. Vikki Reply

    I didn’t realize that these are actually passive approaches and that I am guilty of it! Very good tips. Thanks for sharing them. :) A must RT in Twitter. :)

  6. DaveG Reply

    Excellent post. Even with the speed and seeming efficiency of the Internet for emailing resumes and filling out online applications, the job market and the current economic climate requires those of us who are unemployed to do more than just sitting at the computer “looking for jobs”. Networking–preferably in person–will bring greater returns. Because I’m currently looking for a job as an editor-writer (technical, scientific, general manuscripts), I’m particularly interested in your post and your suggestions! Thank you so much for providing these ideas.

    Best regards,
    Dave Gardner (aka “EditorDave”)
    Finding Work – Views from the Other Side of the HR Desk

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