The job market is increasingly mobile in terms of job tenure. This comes even as 44% of employed workers identify themselves as “passive” candidates, or people investing little to no effort in searching out new job opportunities, according to a recent study by CEB.
The reason? “Passive” does not always equate with “satisfied.” There are a number of ways to maximize marketability with a minimum of effort and exposure. By taking these steps in advance professionals can forget the job boards and let their dream job come to them instead.
Create a positive online presence
While most professionals understand the importance of LinkedIn with regards to passive job seeking, few take advantage of the tremendous benefits offered by the popular networking site. While setting up a profile, the interface suggests countless hints, tips, and statistics that any passive candidate would do well to heed:
A profile photo, while not required, is a guaranteed way to both increase profile views and show that the user takes his or her online presence seriously. Professionalism is key here; this is not Instagram!
The “Summary” section is an opportunity to express a professional identity. It should combine your work history, expertise, accomplishments, and goals. This is usually the second thing (after the profile photo) viewed by prospective employers. Make it good and make it count.
Be sure to use industry appropriate titles, jargon, skills, and expertise. It does no good to extol an extensive “Procurement” background if recruiters are looking for “Purchasing” instead. See what terms peers are using and follow the predominating usage. This is a rare instance where it helps to follow the herd.
Contractors and consultants might switch companies frequently, while those in permanent roles might expect to stay with the same company their entire career. The latter case is increasingly rare. The most recent government studies puts the average tenure for U.S. workers at 4.6 years and the trend is certainly tending towards increased mobility. It is imperative that all professionals, passive and active alike, keep up to date on industry changes, technology, and trends. In the technology field, programming languages and applications can become outdated almost overnight. It is all too easy to become unmarketable simply by ignoring the changing market. Certifications are something else that should always be kept current (and added onto). If an employer is generous enough to offer training or certification: take advantage of it! It may prove to be an even better investment than the company sponsored 401K.
Connect with real people
Virtual networking is best complemented by real-life interactions. Face-to-face meetings have a far greater impact than those conducted through other means, simply through the physical presence of the two parties. This is one reason “open house” and business networking events have maintained their popularity in the professional world despite the rise of online media. The best references will always be those who have the most interaction with the candidate because they have a real understanding of the character and their commendations will ring true. In addition, an ever growing network of coworkers, employers, and friends is the best path to future opportunities.
Maintain a professional reputation
Most companies conduct background checks and drug screens before employment. The easiest check, however, is conducted long before an offer of employment is made and is as simple as opening the Google search tab. Take care in what is posted to social media and be sure to discriminate between personal and professional. Again, reputation is not limited to the virtual world. Never burn bridges when leaving an employer if at all possible. People skills are valued in all industries and at all levels; no hiring manager will be willing to bring a potentially divisive member onto the team. Speak respectfully of past employers regardless of personal differences. Even if it takes the final reference check to bring negative experiences to light they will come to light eventually and can ruin future opportunities for years to come.
The benefits of maintaining a passive profile in the job market will be apparent to anyone who has spent time unemployed. With a little care and effort it is possible to attract opportunities without bothering with the nightmare of resume revision, interviewing, and job boards that an active search involves. Always stay in touch with your recruiter and maintain relationships with everyone in your professional network. You will thank yourself someday.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robert Gallagher lives near Allentown, Pennsylvania, and is an Executive Recruiter at The Denzel Group. He received his Bachelors in Corporate Communications from Penn State University and has published works in Tradition Magazine, InQ, Lehigh Valley Business Journal, and The Fordyce Letter. Follow him on LinkedIn for more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gallagherrecruiter