Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Looking while working – active searching, passive searching and other strategies – 2

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on January 19, 2011

Yesterday I posted a note to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development on Looking While Working and I did so with a specific reader request in mind. I was initially going to add one supplemental posting to the Guide on this but I quickly changed my mind and selected to write this as a quick, short series in the main installment listings. I focused on active searching in my first in this series and I move on to passive searches and hybrid searches here.

• As a general principle, passive job search is all about being receptive to new opportunity, and to maintaining enough of an online and more general social networking reach and presence so you can be found – but without actively searching per se.
• This means social networking, and staying connected, and as with active searching it means keeping your online social networking profiles up to date – and with a focus and orientation in details included to both highlight what you have done and are doing, and what you would do next as an ideal next career opportunity. This is about saying where you are but it is also about communicating with others who may see your profile and think of an opportunity they should share with you.
• Even passive searchers and people who are simply looking to stay competitive just in case, should keep their resumes up to date and the core principle of the elevator pitch always offers value as this helps you keep your long term goals and priorities in focus (see Structuring an Effective Elevator Pitch.)

I point out here that passive searches can be very attractive to recruiters, and to retained recruiters in particular, hired by specific businesses in need of vetted employees to fill specific positions with them. So anyone who finds themselves working with a current employer and basically satisfied with that, but who opts to passive search as a back-up and plan B should become familiar with recruiters and how they work (see Recruiters and Recruiting Services.) This potential audience to your business social networking message can become particularly important for people who have unusual and sought-after skill combinations, and for more senior employees and managers, and recruiters become more active in general as markets open up and more positions become available to fill. That point is particularly true for retained recruiters

Summarizing a key point that cuts across both part one to this series and this posting itself up to now, active search candidates tend to be more uncertain as to their current job situation, dissatisfied with it or both, and passive search candidates tend to be more satisfied with their current situation, but still see it the more prudent course to stay active networking and to be ready for opportunities that may come up. That leaves a middle ground and this is where what I would call hybrid strategies enter the picture.

Quite simply, a person can be concerned and interested in looking in the manner of an active searcher, but not be ready to fully take that step. They can be basically satisfied with their current position and feel some sense of job security there, but still see a need to be more involved than simply relying on the possibilities of a fully passive search. Think of a hybrid search as following a selective active search strategy.

• Think through your current situation and your longer term and career prospects from the perspective of where you are now.
• Assemble a list of the pros and cons of your current situation with an eye to job retention but with longer term considerations taken into account as very important too.
• What are your prospects for advancement where you are now, and both in position held and compensation received, and in opportunity to advance your professional skills and experience base?
• Run through the list of all of the factors and considerations that would be important to you, and really think through what they are and their relative priorities to you. This, I add is a crucially important exercise for anyone who seeks to go beyond simply holding a here-and-now job to having a true career, and it is an exercise that should be revisited on a regular basis.
• Which more active search elements would best serve your purpose for increasing your chances of reaching and maintaining your high priority goals?
• Remember, this includes both job and professional goals and more personal and quality of life considerations and goals too.
• Active or passive, or somewhere in between in your search strategy and approach, think ahead and know what your next steps would be if you do find yourself entertaining a possible job change and career step. As a specific example, who would you turn to for recommendations and references? Even if you are very actively searching while working, this may include people you would want to wait on discussing this with until you have something very specific under development and where you would need a reference now. But it is always helpful to have the list of possible recommendation and reference providers ready and thought through.

As a final thought in this posting and for now in this series, keep an open mind as to what type of strategy would work best for you. So if you are passively searching, know when a more active approach might make more sense for you, and what level of active you should shift to. If you are in a more hybrid search know what to look for that would indicate a more fully active search may be called for. If causes of concern develop and then settle down you may find yourself shifting back to a more passive search approach. The key here is to keep flexible and open minded, and with open eyes and ears to know what would be best for you now. Then this is all about acting on that knowledge.

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