Passive job seeker = cookie cutter job seeker

As a member of a new community of resume writers and career coaches called the Career Collective, this post is one of many responses to the question, “Are you a cookie cutter job seeker?” I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, linked at the end of my reply! Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.

Are you a cookie cutter job seeker? As I thought about this question, I wondered what it meant? It dawned on me that cookie cutter job seekers are, in many ways, passive job seekers. In a previous post, I asked, “Are you a passive job seeker? You might be, but don’t realize it.” In that post, I offered a number of scenarios and argued why each was, in fact, a passive approach to the job search – i.e. a cookie cutter approach. Today, I present a few more scenarios.

You are waiting for the job market to “turn around” before you start your job search
Why this is passive: You are waiting for something that could take years to occur. Moreover, you are waiting when you could be acting.
I am not suggesting that you quit your current job right now. However, as you can see from this post, and previous ones, there are active job search strategies that you can perform right now. If you are telling yourself that you need to wait for the market to turn around, or wait for X, Y or Z to occur, ask yourself if there is something else that’s holding you back. Don’t allow fear of the job market, of change, of success, or of anything thing else to force you into a passive job seeking stance.

Your friend/family member has a contact who can get you a job
Why this is a passive approach: You are relying on the strength of your friend or family member’s network rather than your own.
Don’t get me wrong – your friends and family members are part of your network, and they can be very powerful advocates for you in the world of employment. But the strength of a network is in the relationships that are developed; if you have not developed the relationship yourself, there is really very little reason for that contact to come through with a job lead for you. Furthermore, since the contact does not know you very well, any leads they find are less likely to fit your career goals. If your friend or family member is ok with it, try to connect directly with their contact and develop a professional relationship with them. At the same time, work to strengthen and build your own network.

You spend all of your available time reading job search advice
Why this is a passive approach: You are learning a lot of potentially useful information, but if all your time is spent reading about strategies, you have left no time for real action to occur.
It is not a bad thing to want to know the best strategies for completing any task, job search included. However, implementation is equally, if not more, important than information gathering. You can feel as though you are being active in your job search when you spend hours and hours reading about different job search strategies, networking techniques, social media tools, and all their variations, but unless you begin to implement the strategies, you are not truly being active in your efforts. Take an honest look at your job search-related activity over the last month. If more than 50% of it involved reading advice, whether online, in magazines or in books, put the advice away and schedule an informational interview or find a networking event to attend.

Other posts from the Career Collective to the question, Are you a cookie cutter job seeker?
Career By Choice’s Expat Success Tips: Ongoing Career management is No Longer Optional for the Expat in Today’s New World of Work
Top Margin: Gayle’s Blog Sabotaging Your Prospects: Cookie-cutter Style
CAREEREALISM: Cookie Cutters are for Baking…Not Job Searching!
The Emerging Professional: On the “Cookie Cutter” Approach to Job Search: Do You Need a Recipe?
Sterling Career Concepts: Job seekers: Break out of the mold!
Dawn Bugni The Write Solution: Dawn’s Blog Is your job search “cookie-cutter” or “hand-dropped”?
Rosa Vargas, Creating Prints Resume-Writing Blog: Being a Cookie-Cutter Job Seeker is a Misfortune
Heather Mundell, life@work: How Not to Be a Cookie Cutter Job Seeker
Barbara Safani Career Solvers Blog Cookie Cutter Resumes Can Leave a Bad Taste in the Hiring Manager’s Mouth
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Career Trend Blog: Eating Bananas Doesn’t Make You an Ape
Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers: How Can a Job Seeker Stand Out?
Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog: Avoiding Being a Cookie-Cutter Job-seeker In Your Resume and Throughout Your Job Search
Heather R. Huhman, Break the Mold: Don’t Be a Cookie Cutter
Rosalind Joffe, Forget the cookies! Start with vision
Career Sherpa, Hannah Morgan: Are You a Cookie Cutter Job Seeker?

8 comments on “Passive job seeker = cookie cutter job seeker”

  1. Morren Reply

    Great Stuff. This kind of useful stuff will really helpful to the job seekers. Many thanks

  2. Barbara Safani Reply


    You're right. So many job seekers think they are working on their search when they surf the job boards. Passive is easy; proactive is hard…but necessary. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Sweet - aka Grace Kutney Reply

    Thank you for your wonderful comments, Career Collective colleagues! I am so thrilled to be part of this amazing group. And a huge bonus? I'm learning tons from all of you!

  4. Miriam Salpeter Reply

    Thanks for your take on this subject! Being passive is never going to help a job seeker. I teach my clients to "drive their own career bus." Everyone needs to recognize that their career are their own responsibility, but there are ways to take control and move forward purposefully!

    Thanks for joining the Career Collective! I look forward to your post.

  5. Chandlee Reply


    You are right–the passive approach is the same as using slice and bake cookie dough: you may ultimately find success, but it will take longer and you'll likely never receive special incentives on the basis of your unique recipe!

    I look forward to getting to know your work through the Career Collective!

  6. Megan Fitzgearald Reply

    Hi Grace,

    Great to see these posts from other career collective members!

    I think because my post was at the very top of the list on the wiki you must have missed it.

    Here's mine:
    Career By Choice's Expat Success Tips: Ongoing Career Management is No Longer Optional for the Expat in Today's New World of Work

    I look forward to exploring future career collective topics with you!



  7. Dawn Bugni Reply

    I spoke with a young woman yesterday. She told me there are rumblings in her company about things being unstable (imagine that) so she wanted to get her resume ready and start looking now. She's not sure she'll be affected or if it's only the "gossip grapevine" causing the stir, but she's not going to wait and see. She wants to be prepared.

    I told her, BRAVO!! for taking charge of her own life and not waiting for someone else to determine her fate. You post is a great reminder to go out and create a career –not sit home hoping one will happen to you.

  8. Gayle Howard Reply

    This is an excellent post. Many job seekers are unaware that what they are doing is passive because it's the same old "advice" has that been floating around for decades. Now a non-passive strategy is definitely recommended to meet the challenges we all face today!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *