A Quintessential Careers Special 15th Anniversary Report
Why do you think so many job-seekers seem not to have caught on to the paradigm shift of reactive job-hunting (tracking down job leads, job boards) to proactive job-hunting (career branding, networking, social media)?
Compiled by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
We invited 15 of the top career and job-search experts — our Quintessential Careers Career Masterminds — to share their advice with our readers as part of our 15th anniversary. This question is just one of several, which you can find here: Expert Job-Search Answers and Advice from Career Experts.
Career Paradigm Shift: Reactive Vs. Proactive Job-Hunting
Because unless you are out there doing it, you assume that the world is the same as when you last looked for a job.
The job-searching world is changing all the time — monthly and yearly. As new tools are introduced in social media, recruiters jump on the bandwagon to increase efficiency in their work. Job-seekers who are early adopters of new technologies will always have a leg up. Also, ALL OF THIS seems new, and new is sometimes overwhelming.
You just have got to plunge in and figure it out. It’s not 1986 anymore, so just as you aren’t wearing skinny leather ties and huge hair and shoulder pads, your job-search skills shouldn’t be hopelessly out of style either.
— Maureen Crawford Hentz
Nobody sets out to proactively learn how to job search until they need it. And even then there are so many different messages and methods. You see glitzy Super Bowl ads that promise the best job is waiting for you once you submit your resume. You then have people like me telling you to avoid the big black hole.
The best advice is to focus on people, not positions, to find what you’re looking for.
— Tory Johnson
Humans take the path of least resistance — it’s our nature. So, the online world has created a way for us to go through the motions and feel like we are job searching with far less effort than ever before. Sadly, all it really does is make us feel inferior and unwanted. The ease of applying to 100 jobs online is supposed to make you feel good. BUT, when nobody responds, it makes you feel terrible. I also think that we’ve conditioned people to believe that job hunting has to be something they should dread. Yet, a proactive job search is actually 10 times more rewarding and fun than a reactive one. I do find inside CareerHMO.com that once people understand and embrace the proactive job-search, they never want to go back because it makes them feel so empowered and professional.
Let’s hope more people start to realize just how ineffective and demotivating the reactive job-search is!
— J.T. O’Donnell
Time. Willingness to devote time to their job-search. They did a survey not long ago of college grads who couldn’t find work after graduation and so went back to live with their parents until something opened up. The question: how much time did they now devote to their job-hunt each week? The average was one hour. Per week. Reactive job-hunting (the old way) doesn’t require a lot of time from the job-hunter. Taking the initiative’proactive job-hunting does — something on the order of five or more hours per day, each weekday. Job-hunting is, or should be, some of the hardest thinking, some of the hardest commitment, some of the hardest work, you ever do in your life. If you’re going to be working for at least the next 10 years, 50 weeks a year, five days a week, eight hours a day, you’re talking about 2,000 hours per year, 20,000 hours in 10 years, that you’re planning for and searching for, in your job-hunt. It is worth taking the initiative, becoming proactive, spending significant portions of your time in order to be sure that those 20,000 hours are fulfilling, productive, even exciting, don’t you think?
— Richard Nelson Bolles
I love this question because I just wrote a series of ebooks on proactive job-search strategies, and it’s my passion. I think there are a variety of reasons including fear of the unknown, techno-phobia and just a general mental laziness that we all suffer from at times — that natural tendency we have to do things the way they have always been done.
I also think most people see the job-search process as quite a passive experience — they apply for jobs rather than running a marketing campaign to promote themselves. Because they view the search in this rather subservient way, it doesn’t occur to them to seize the initiative and do something different. Hopefully we can all help lots of people see the possibilities, because some surveys estimate that 70-80 percent of jobs are never advertised. [Learn more in our article, Is the Hidden Job Market a Myth?.] Proactive job seekers are the ones who will have access to all those positions.
— Louise Fletcher
I think a lot of job-seekers just haven’t been taught or told about good, solid 21st century career-management principles. Rarely is that information delivered in high-school or college classes. If it’s shared in the workplace, employees are skeptical, thinking that this particular employer is just being selfish or cheap when the reality is it’s the norm (that’s not to say that there aren’t some employers who do a better job than others at offering employees career-management services).
You might hear the concept of this paradigm shift if you’ve bought a great book on career management or job-search, but there are a lot of books on the market that don’t address the concept of “owning” your career success.
And, let’s face it — most of us would love to be taken care of! In the olden days, employers did that, to a greater degree. But those days are gone, gone, gone. Many employers are struggling to stay afloat and have neither time nor dollars to invest in their employees. It’s now the employee’s responsibility to think about their career paths, acquire skills they’ll need, find mentors who can help them, etc., to make their careers what they want them to be. In a sense, employees must now think like employers in terms of how their “business” (their career) can stay competitive, innovative, and profitable. Those who maintain this mindset will always be the first chosen and the highest paid. Those who don’t will find themselves struggling, frustrated, and unemployed or under-employed. Which camp do you want to choose?
— Susan Whitcomb
For young people, the reasons they overwhelmingly prefer to use online job-search techniques is that they grew up in a world where everything they needed was online. They connected with their friends online, shopped online, dated online, played online, applied to college online, did their college work online. So why wouldn’t they think that a job would be found online?
We are running into young people today who cannot make a business phone call, and cannot answer a business telephone call either. They don’t know how to talk to an irate customer face-to-face or how to de-escalate a complaint. They don’t know how to tell a story in a business setting, and they don’t know how to have a conversation about current events. I in fact teach these practical skills in college-level classes. This is all a result of their intense focus on digital worlds instead of interacting in real life.
Interestingly, if they spend their time online in proactive outreach, they can still find a job relatively quickly. So the task is to get them to use all this digital skill in finding and interviewing practicing professionals in fields of interest to them, finding alumni who can introduce them to other alumni and hiring authorities, and in finding others in their myriad affinity groups who can advance their search for a position before it gets posted on a job board and draws 1,000 resumes.
For older people, the focus on reactive search techniques is not so much a product of their upbringing as it is a hanging on to outdated advice. They got a job 15 years ago by responding to an advertisement, so they think that the only thing that has changed is that the ads are now online instead of in some newspaper.
You have to be absolutely perfect to get a job by responding to an online job posting. You have to be an aerosol engineer applying for a job as an aerosol engineer, or a tax accountant specializing in high-net-worth families and estates applying for a job as a tax accountant specializing in high-net-worth families and estates. If the match is not that obvious, you could apply forever and ever, over and over and over and over, decade after decade, and never get any response beyond an automated thank you.
By the way, I once made a resume for “Rex K. Nine” and applied to several corporate Websites. Rex was obviously a dog, his salary requirements were “kibbles,” and his skills included “able to bite intruders in the buttocks if they fail to present adequate identification.” Rex, without a shadow of a doubt, was a guard dog. I got a series of polite letters, “Dear Mr. Nine, We are diligently comparing your skills and abilities with our needs…” Come on, job-seekers! That’s a computer talking to you. You are getting nowhere!
Finally, I think people just don’t have good guidance on how to look for work another way. They hear “network” and think it means calling up strangers and asking for a job. They hear “informational interview,” but they don’t have a script for what that might look like. So I wrote a book, Cracking the Hidden Job Market, expressly to fill this gap. It is designed to teach anyone the actual, step-by-step techniques that lead to hidden jobs and allow you to be the inside candidate, even when you apply for posted openings.
My findings: Between 55 to 80 percent of jobs go to someone who did not apply for a posted opening. The hidden job market is the larger part of the job market, and it’s vastly easier than the overt job market, where you have to be perfect even to get a second glance.
— Donald Asher
As someone who has screened, interviewed, and hired a lot of frogs, I’m a little bit cynical… maybe a lot.
The law of averages says that 50 percent of the population will be below average. That is to say that career branding and social media is not for everyone. The top 5 percent don’t need it because they are pulled from one job to the next. Why bother if you’re already a hot commodity? The next 20 percent may benefit tremendously from it, but that still leaves 75 percent of the population who probably shouldn’t use it anyway.
Why not? Maybe you can’t write or spell, maybe you are not good at your job. (See Don’t suck at your job (or job search). Or maybe your top priority is your family and your job as a store manager just pays the bills.
— Eric Shannon
Our 15 Quintessential Careers Career Masterminds
- Donald Asher of Asher Associates
- Richard Nelson Bolles of JobHuntersBible.com
- Jack Chapman of Lucrative Careers, Inc.
- Deb Dib of Executive Power Brand
- Louise Fletcher of Blue Sky Resumes
- Maureen Crawford Hentz
- Tory Johnson of Women for Hire
- J.T. O’Donnell of CAREEREALISM
- Lindsey Pollak
- Teena Rose of Resume to Referral
- Steven Rothberg of CollegeRecruiter.com
- Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers
- Eric Shannon of LatPro, Inc.
- Wendy Terwelp of Opportunity Knocks
- Susan Whitcomb of The Academies
Find more information about each of our 15 Quintessential Careers Career Masterminds.
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