If you’re “happily enough employed”, can you really be in a job search? Yes! In fact, people who are happy where they are usually get the best job offers to go somewhere else they’ll be even happier!
To the recruiter community, currently employed job seekers who are willing to look at alternative career options are called “passive job seekers” and they are prizes to be won. Why? Because it’s assumed that someone who already has a job they like won’t come with the baggage of sour grapes or questionable skills that “may” accompany those actively looking.
Is the assumption that if you’re actively looking there may be something wrong with you fair? No. But think of it like this: when you’re engaging in a passive job search, you’re playing a little hard to get, so if they want you they have to try a bit harder. The benefits? Better opportunities, higher salary, greater benefits.
Jonathan was three years into his first management job at a biotech company, leading a small delivery team, when he was contacted on LinkedIn about a position at an even bigger company. He liked where he was but recognized that the promotion opportunities were pretty slim. The new company had a bigger organization, more labs and specialties to help him refine his skills, work on more market-facing projects and move up the ladder. They offered him $12,000 more a year than he was currently making and a moving allowance to relocate to a city closer to his wife’s parents. He was sad to leave his current position, but recognized that opening up a slot for one of the promising employees on his team was a win-win. Jonathan played the game right and got the benefit.
What did Jonathan do to be proactive in his passive job search?
BEING good at what you do opens doors.”
Going on a passive job search sounds oxymoronic. Career coach advice on the subject comes out sounding a little zen, like, “hey dude, be easy to find.”
But “being easy to find” is pretty much what it’s all about. Specifically:
- Know what your “Perfect Job” looks like
- Spiff up your LinkedIn profile
- Talk to your network about your “Perfect Job” (but don’t call it that)
Piece ‘o cake, right?
Of course not.
Presenting yourself and being easy to find for your perfect job takes a little effort and—most of all—intention. Here’s what Jonathan did:
Presenting Yourself As The Right Fit for Your Perfect Job
Know what your perfect job looks like: On the first 18 months of his current position, Jonathan focused on learning the job and being good at it. Over the last year and a half, he networked at local industry meetings to learn more about what his current job might be leading to and what kind of jobs opened up for people like him who’d been in their jobs for several years. Along the way he discovered that while he was working to project manage research-oriented programs, many people with his skills had more responsibility for product delivery and interfaced more with the marketing team than he did. Learning this, Jonathan started going out of his way to meet with his own marketing people and learn what things they cared about after the project made it out of the research phase.
Spiff up your LinkedIn profile: While rounding out his knowledge of marketing perspectives in his company a bit more, Jonathan visited the LinkedIn profiles of a few of his networking contacts who had more diverse project portfolios than he did. Armed with this broader perspective, Jonathan began to understand what his job—which he enjoyed—might look like in a situation where there were more opportunities to be involved in taking a product to market and he intentionally inserted a few keywords into his profile on LinkedIn that were both truthful, but also aimed at showing that he understood that biotech wasn’t only about the research, even though research projects did eat up 95% of his working hours.
Talk to your network about your “Perfect Job” (but don’t call it that). Knowing that he was happy in his current job, and had no intention to leave it anytime soon, Jonathan was careful not to tell anyone in his network that he was looking for a job—because he wasn’t. Instead he focused more on discussing what was next in his own career development. He talked about how much he loved his current job, and specifically what he loved about it—working with his team. He shared that he was talking more to marketing to connect the dots between the kind of research projects he worked on now and what happened when a project moved into the product phase. He talked about how much that interested him and asked his networking contacts to put him in touch with others who had greater insight into these kinds of projects he hadn’t had as much experience with—yet.
Word got out on Jonathan in his industry group. He was seen as someone who was:
- good at what he did
- interested in the industry and expanding his own understanding of the business of biotech
- proactive in his own career development.
It didn’t take long for a recruiter to get the word, and check him out on LinkedIn. Liking what he saw in Jonathan’s online profile, and that it was consistent with the personal recommendation he’d received from a colleague, the dot was connected.
What if Jonathan hadn’t been contacted by the recruiter? He’d still be happily enough employed in his current job, and learning more about the industry and what his next career move could be. Not a bad way to be, eh?
Be proactive about your passive job search. Be good at what you do and always be looking at what’s next and positioning yourself to be a good candidate for it. The worst that can happen is that you’ll be getting smarter about what you want when you do go into an “active” job search mode. The best that can happen? Just ask Jonathan.
Take charge of your career development to get the job that supports your work and your life. Check out the tools and resources in the InPower Coaching Career Center.