Unemployed people or workers who really want to get out of their current position throw themselves wholeheartedly into finding a new role. But plenty of other folks take a less aggressive approach to the job market. They keep an eye on what’s out there and perhaps nibble at exceptional opportunities, but they don’t conduct a full-fledged search.
If you fall into this latter category, however, be careful not to equate passivity with total inactivity. Actions taken now can pay off significantly later.
Four tips for passive job seekers to keep in mind:
1. Maintain a current resume.
If opportunity knocks, are you ready to answer? All professionals should have an up-to-date, polished resume in their arsenal that can be tweaked easily to match the specifics of the job ad.
“You should be ready to fire off a quality resume with just a few customizing edits,” says Duncan Mathison, co-author of Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times Are Tough. “Last minute scrambles to throw together a resume run the risk of presenting yourself poorly to a great opportunity and organization. First impressions last a long time.”
2. Pay attention to your network.
Similarly, stay in regular contact with individuals you might want to use as references down the line. Asking someone you routinely converse with for help feels much less awkward than connecting only when you need a favor.
And don’t skimp on meeting new people. Sure, checking out career boards is an easy way to passively hunt, but relationships hold a world of potential. People you enjoy the professional company of today may keep you top of mind for positions that open up on their team at a later date. All workers want to be around colleagues they like!
3. Examine trends and develop skills.
When you’re looking at what jobs are out there in your industry, pay attention to skills, educational requirements, and other in-demand factors. Obtaining knowledge about what perspective employers want most before conducting a full-on job search allows time to increase future marketability, such as by pursuing a certification.
Staying abreast of what’s going on in your field also may be useful to your current position. Knowing how your salary and responsibilities compare to those in similar roles can come in handy during promotion discussions. Or you might be able to convince your employer to foot the bill for a class on a tech skill that’s gaining popularity in your industry.
4. Analyze what you want.
Finally, while many passive job seekers really are only curious about what’s out there, others look because of some desire for change. Figuring out where you stand can assist in averting impulsivity and shaping your future.
“Know what it will take to make a move,” Mathison says. “A simple exercise is to do a list of your likes and dislikes of past and current jobs. You will soon start to see a pattern of needing ‘more of this and less of that’ in your career. This will provide a solid foundation for evaluating any opportunity whether the result is avoiding a rash decision or giving you the courage to make a change.”