Be Proactive, Not Reactive!

Originally published to LinkedIn on July 21, 2015

Be proactive, not reactive. It seems like this piece of advice would be common knowledge to most job seekers, but you’d be surprised to learn that most don’t know this. 98% of job seekers are doing it all wrong! What does that mean? Well, let me back up…

If you’ve found yourself sitting at your desk, eyes glazing over, your future hanging on the hopes that someone will fall in love with the online resume you just submitted, you’re not alone. Most people do this every day while they look for their next job. You’ve probably spent hours entering your “relevant” job history into an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) on a company’s website, laboring over each detail of your resume and cover letter to attach, and made sure each job description was maxed out in full detail. It happens, and most people think this is the way. Then you wait. And wait. And wait. And eventually you stop waiting because, well, quite frankly you’ve heard nothing and you’ve lost any motivation to wait any longer! That thread of hope for a successful future will probably hang in internet limbo. Now until forever.

The vast majority of job seekers waste too much time trying to fit their backgrounds into the descriptions they see online. In fact, most positions on corporate websites have already been filled by the time you read them, but they need to be uploaded to satisfy federal guidelines and corporate policy. Of course, this means that competition is extraordinarily fierce for the few positions that are actually available to the expanses of the internet.

It’s a depressing reality for many, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want the job you deserve, then you have to go get it! Let me ask you this…

How many of you have heard of a friend or acquaintance, family member that has gotten a job that wasn’t listed, wasn’t posted online? One day they just miraculously got the job. If many are you thinking…”Yep, I’ve heard of that person!”, well, it happens all the time, and to more than just your friends.

In every company people get hired under the radar, and you would like to know how, right? How is it that you’ve spent hours upon hours submitting applications, but nothing has happened for you? It’s easier than you think! You must be the one being proactive and not reactive. Don’t wait for that job to be listed online. Go after that hidden job market.

At least 80% of available positions are filled through networking. Rather than wasting your energy trying to look like the ideal candidate for either a non-existent job or a job you are clearly settling for, invest 80%+ of your time developing and maintaining professional contacts. Target the jobs you want, and then create professional relationships with the key influencers, hiring managers, decision-makers and human resources professionals that are directly associated with those jobs. Sending them a personalized invitation to connect here on LinkedIn will lead to casual meetings for coffee/ phone conversations, then interviews, and eventually you will be hired for the job you want! It’s possible, and it happens every single day. I’m a big proponent of using LinkedIn to do just this in a very easy way.

But the key is you have to be proactive. You have to talk to the people that count and make sure you are always prepared for those conversations. If you sit and wait for the right job to present itself, you will need a boatload of good luck, and even with that you will be waiting a long time. And that couch you’re sitting on just gets more comfortable, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be that way. Get off the couch, land the job you want and start taking the steps and becoming more proactive today!

If you find that this post was helpful to you in any way, please share it with your connections and your fellow group members. This is exactly how I pick up great tips and ideas from some of the other thought leaders across social media, and I’d greatly appreciate any efforts you make to do the same. And naturally, please leave comments below, I really do want to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Looking forward to charting your course to success, and have a great proactive day!