When you’re looking to make a job change, you should be actively searching out as many opportunities as possible, and becoming increasingly focused as you narrow them down. This decreases your unemployment time and increases the likelihood of finding what you want.
Job hunters can be very passive: posting resumes on job boards instead of frequently searching them; letting inept recruiters contact them instead of finding recruiters who make things happen; being too optimistic about a job prospect, saying “I might as well check it out – why not?” and then saying “I knew that. Why did I bother?”; wondering why so much time passes with so few results.
Almost every candidate could be twice as pro-active as they currently are. Instead of waiting for openings to find you, you need to be looking for openings. Finding your perfect job is about choice: the choice to apply – or not, the choice to accept an interview – or not, the choice to return for a second when you’re invited to do so – or not. It’s not as much about accepting an offer or not, because by the time you get to that stage – if you’ve been doing your homework – you should know if you want to be that far along in the game. If you don’t, you should have cut out earlier.
Finding your perfect job is not about putting more eggs in your basket as your search goes on, it’s about taking them out of your basket. It’s why I speak so often on the importance of knowing who you are and what you want. You must know what motivates you, what factors your firm on and on which ones you’ll compromise. For instance, do you function better in a large environment or small? Corporate or non-profit? Team focused or self-motivated? You do this by examining your previous jobs – what you liked and didn’t like, what worked or didn’t, and why.
You can’t go looking if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You may be saying, “Wait! I contacted some recruiters!” and “I did some networking!” or “I’ve answered ads!”.
Once you know what you’re looking for, start placing eggs in your basket. Comb the job boards, research search firms that specialize in your discipline, contact and choose some recruiters, network with your co-workers from previous jobs, contact employers at companies in the area that seem attractive – introduce yourself, ask for advice, see if they have suggestions or connections. You find opportunities that you wouldn’t have known about if you’d waited for everything to find you. You become energized instead of discouraged. And as you learn more about the personality of each company, the management style of each hiring authority, the description of each job, you make the decision to leave the egg in the basket or take it out. But the point is, if it doesn’t fit, you’re making the choice to take it out, rather than the company making the choice for you.
Obviously if something comes along that appears to fit your profile, follow it up. But my point is having a lot of opportunities from which to choose isn’t a groovy thing if few of them are viable. So don’t wait around to see which of those iffy things come through. Chuck them over your shoulder and get after finding what you want! Change is an anathema to most people. It’s scary and uncomfortable. When your job searching passively – especially if you think you’re pro-active – you don’t have to think about what if you make the wrong decision, what if you don’t like the new job, what if you become unhappy at your new company, and “Oh, I miss that job I had five years ago! I wish I hadn’t quit!”
But in fact, that’s a fallacy. The only thing being passive about job hunting does is ensure that your fears become actualized. To avoid those fears coming true, you need to get out there and make it happen. The process may be scary, but the result is a relief. And the result is with you far longer than the process is. So instead of being passive, be pro-active and aggressive. Instead of throwing eggs into your basket, know what you want so that you can throw them out. Instead of becoming inert because you’re afraid of the potential results, eliminate them by thinking of ways to discover hidden opportunities so that you get the result you want.
The person controlling the process is you. The person responsible for finding your perfect job is you. The person who must live with the outcome is you. So it’s your choice: do you want to do it the passive way? Or do you want to do the opposite?