The Best Way to Look for a Job

If you are like most of my subscribers, you are actively looking for work. In social work language, you are “in crisis” in that you can only remain out of work for a very finite period of time before dire consequences occur.

And, in fact, you picked the worst time to be looking for a job, not because of the economy but because there is a bias in the recruiting profession and among corporations about “active job hunters.”

The bias that exists is that people who are out looking for a job are not “the best” people– a firm chose them for a layoff and held on to “high achievers,” their better talent, their “stars.”

Given what you know of yourself, it is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it?

But this isn’t just “agency nonsense” but part of the beliefs of people on the line and in corporate HR.

I am sorry to say that I was part of the creation of this “Myth of the Passive Candidate” thirty or so years ago at a time when I could not afford an advertising budget and needed to differentiate myself from the bigger agencies that were spending tens of thousands of dollars every week.

I would market myself to firms and say, “I don’t just try to locate the best candidate who is reading ‘The New York Times’ on Sunday looking for a job. I try to find the best candidate.”

That distinction worked wonders for me and, as I taught others about its power it became part of agency culture and ingrained in corporate thinking even though times have changed and firms release superior talent all the time.

What can you do?

Not a heck of a lot.

But after you find work,I want you to shift your mindset.

You see, most people who have found a job think they don’t need help.

“I have a job I’m happy with. Leave me alone. I have work to do.”

Some people respond to recruiters with emails that seem to be yelling.

“How did you get my email address, you spammer (Uh, you left your resume up on a job board. I found you using Google or a research-oriented website)!

And then the next crisis hits and these people contact the same recruiters they have yelled at and expect them to have forgotten the rudeness (you think we don’t log that behavior in our applicant tracking systems).

What I want you to do in the future is think of yourself is always looking for work.

While President Clinton was President, his staff used the term, “the continuous campaign” to describe how they were always running for office and could not afford to become, “fat, dumb and happy.” They needed to always be selling the voters.

I am not suggesting that you keep your resume up on Monster and other job boards. In fact, take them down immediately!

I am telling you that LinkedIn, Twitter, Xing (if you are outside the US), Facebook and Doostang are the playpens of companies and recruiters who are looking for “passive job hunters.”

So regularly update your profile and treat it like a resume with quality keywords that describe what you do professionally.

If you receive an email or phone call from a recruiter or an email from a recruiter from a firm, treat them with respect and listen to what they offer.

Evaluate the recruiter what the recruiter has to offer. Ask questions. Answer their questions. Remember, they may record their experience of you in their tracking system so sell to them. Create a great impression.

Then make a decision as to whether to continue discussions.


Offer a referral if you know someone who might be qualified and you aren’t interested.

Whatever you do, remember that the likelihood of your job lasting until retirement is small and it is better to look for a job when you have one than when you don’t.

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