Success Tips for Passive Job Seekers

How to search even when you're not looking

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You may love your job so much you think you'd never consider leaving. Even in the best job situations, though, it's smart to prepare for the unknown.

Companies can behave in unexpected ways. Your employer may reorganize its structure or lay off workers for financial reasons. Management can shift, and employee responsibilities along with it. You could suddenly find yourself with a new boss who isn't as pleasant to work for as your old supervisor. Or, your personal circumstances could change and make your current schedule unmanageable. There are even valid reasons to quit a job you love.

So, even if you are happy with your current role, it's a good idea to engage in a passive job search.

Active vs. Passive Job Searching

Active Job Search
This scenario occurs when someone is intently looking for a new job. Active job seekers post their resumes on job boards, conduct searches, and apply for jobs regularly. They might use LinkedIn, social networking sites, and apps to expedite their searches for a new position.

Active job seekers also network, attend job fairs and industry events, and contact connections about potential job opportunities. Finally, they may utilize a recruiting agency or send letters of interest to specific employers.

Passive Job Search
In a passive scenario, someone currently employed is open to hearing about new career opportunities but does not actively seek out and apply for specific positions. A passive job seeker waits for employers to reach out with opportunities. 

Passive job seekers may (and should) keep their resumes and LinkedIn profiles up to date. They may also engage in casual networking with colleagues and friends at other companies and set up job alerts and accounts on job-search websites. Even when their job position is stable, passive seekers know they can do certain things to make their next job change easier if they ever do decide to move on.

Ready for the Unknown

If you engage in a passive job search, you will be prepared to spring into action at any given moment. Your resume and social media presence will be current. Plus, your regular alerts and browsing will give you a sense of the opportunities and salary available within your industry. If your circumstances change, you can quickly and easily convert your passive job search into an active one. 

Top 10 Tips for Passive Job Seekers

Passive job seekers who invest a little time in staying job-hunt ready will save a lot of time (and stress) getting up to speed when they need to start looking in earnest. Here are tips for becoming an expert passive job seeker.

1. Be an Active LinkedIn User
Build a robust LinkedIn profile including education, experience, volunteering, skills, certifications, and associations. Your LinkedIn Profile is the online version of your resume, so be sure to proofread it carefully.

Once your profile is set, connect with everyone you know. The operative word is "know"—don't connect with random people who aren't in a position to help you. Do join relevant LinkedIn groups, however. There are job-search groups, company groups, alumni groups, college groups, and networking groups. Groups are a good source for networking contacts, job-search advice, and job listings. Since you're not actively job searching, set email notifications to a weekly digest to avoid getting buried in messages.

2. Write Recommendations
Write LinkedIn recommendations for connections whose work you'd like to recognize. Some of them will return the favor, which will strengthen your profile. You can choose which recommendations you'd like to highlight on your profile, providing visible references for potential employers.

3. Tap Into Social Networking
Don't stop with LinkedIn. Facebook is a personal networking site, but also useful for keeping in touch with former colleagues. Twitter and Instagram accounts can help you expand your base of connections and establish your personal brand online.

Here are some best practices for using each social tool for career purposes:

The stronger your social presence, the more likely you are to be tapped by companies using social recruiting to find candidates for employment.

4. Build a Career Network
You don't have to spend a lot of time networking, but do take the time to add connections to your network regularly. Look for networking events for your industry in your area. The bigger your network, the more opportunities you'll have when you're job searching.

5. Stay Connected to Your Network
Don't build a network and forget about it. Post status updates on Facebook, tweet now and then, and post interesting links to your social pages. If you have a blog that's appropriate for professional connections to read, feed it to your pages. Your connections will know you're there, and you won't have to work to build a presence when you most need to.

Once a week, send an email, LinkedIn, or Facebook message to a few connections to ask how they're doing. Staying in touch reminds them who you are and shows that you care about how they're doing. If you're interested and engaged, your contacts will be more likely to give you help when you need it. Have an occasional cup of coffee or lunch with those connections you're able to meet in-person.

6. Check Out Companies
Do you have a company you would love to work for if the perfect job came along? Have a list of target companies ready and check out their websites every so often to read the latest news and see what jobs are available. You can also set up company-specific email alerts on job-search sites like Indeed.

7. Check Job Listings 
Speaking of job search engines, check in once a week to run a few job searches (or set email digests) using your skills, job title, and/or the location where you would like to work. You'll see, at a glance, a list of open jobs that match your background.

8. Update Your Resume
Have an updated resume ready to go. Each time you change jobs or your educational status changes, update your resume. This way, you'll always have a current copy ready when the need arises. Write a cover letter draft for a job that is a close match to your expertise. You'll then have a template ready to customize when you start applying for jobs.

9. Be Interview-Ready
Don't use up all your accrued vacation or personal leave time if you can avoid it. Keep some in reserve in case an interview for that dream job comes along. Have an interview outfit ready to go so you don't have to scramble to find something to wear. Also, have a list of employment references ready. Some companies require references along with a resume and cover letter as part of the application process.

10. Review
Review these steps every few weeks to make sure that your passive job-search techniques are working. Is your LinkedIn networking growing? Are you remembering to reach out to your connections? Do you have a sense of what jobs you qualify for and what jobs are available? On a related note, are your skills and certifications current so you're qualified for positions of interest? Are you ready to interview if you get an invitation from an employer?

Staying prepared for a job search will smooth the process when you have to start looking. If you're keeping up an effective passive search, your dream employer may even find you when you least expect it.