Reactive vs Proactive Job Searching

Vinny @ NextGen Career Coaching
5 min readJul 1, 2023
Reactive vs Proactive job searching

Looking for a job can be a relentless and unforgiving process and can often feel like a full time job within itself. The time browsing job boards searching for the right opportunity, the multiple rounds of interviews and preparation can be a lot of commitment, particularly if you are looking for a role whilst employed and trying to find times around your current work hours and countless other personal commitments. When it comes to finding a job, there are two main approaches that job seekers can take: proactive and reactive. In this blog post, I’’ll discuss the benefits of taking a proactive approach to job searching and what steps you can take to do this.

First, let’s define what I mean by proactive and reactive job searching. A proactive job search means actively seeking out job opportunities, networking with professionals in your desired field, and reaching out to potential employers. On the other hand, a reactive job search is more passive and involves waiting for job postings to be posted online and applying to them.

Now that’s clear let’s dive into the benefits of taking a proactive approach to job searching and what it may look like for you:

More job opportunities: When you take a proactive approach to job searching, you’re not limiting yourself to the job openings that are currently available. Instead, you’re creating opportunities for yourself by networking with hiring managers and recruiters, and reaching out to companies that you’re interested in working for. By being proactive, you’re increasing the likelihood of finding a job that’s a good fit for you.

Competitive advantage: When you’re proactive in your job search, you’re positioning yourself as a candidate who is eager and motivated to find a job with a clear motive and interest in working for the targetted company. This can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates who are taking a more reactive approach. Employers are often impressed by candidates who take the initiative to seek out opportunities, and they may be more likely to consider you for a position. As this approach helps you get your foot in the door, and build an initial relationship with hiring managers which can sometimes lead to skipping the queue and avoiding the initial cv screen of an application process.

Networking opportunities: Networking is a critical component of a proactive job search. By attending career fairs and industry events. By connecting with people in your desired field, you’re increasing your chances of making valuable connections that could lead to job opportunities. Building a strong network can also provide you with valuable insights into your industry and help you stay up-to-date on trends and developments.

Improved confidence: When you’re actively pursuing job opportunities, you’re taking control of your career path. This can feel empowering and help to boost your self-confidence. Even if you don’t land your dream job right away, the act of being proactive can help you feel more confident in your abilities and give you a sense of direction.

Better job fit: By being proactive in your job search, you’re able to identify and target companies and roles that align with your career goals and values. This can lead to a better job fit and ultimately, greater job satisfaction. When you’re proactive, you’re able to tailor your job search to your specific needs and preferences.

Tips on how to do this:

Firstly you will need to research and identify which companies interest you. Start with your top 10 and then you can build on this. Talk to friends and colleagues, use websites such as LinkedIn & Glassdoor, check out social media pages, and careers sites and build your knowledge.

Now you have your list, LinkedIn has recently introduced a great new feature that means you can now express an interest in working for a target company.

You can privately express interest in working for a company without having to apply for a specific role, and even if there are no open roles at the company, use the I’m Interested button. You can find this feature on the company’s About page under the Overview section. Once you signal that you’re interested, recruiters at the company will be able to view your profile when searching for interested candidates.

Once you have identified the companies you would like to work for and expressed an interest on the company pages, the next step is to identify the potential hiring managers, reach out to them.

Now the best way to find the appropriate hiring manager if you don’t know them already is through a company’s LinkedIn page selecting “see all # employees on LinkedIn” and filtering through location and job title search. Now this could be pretty straightforward if it is a smaller company you are searching but if a larger company, it may take a couple of tweaks of your search to find the right person.

In order for you to be able to message somebody who is not a connection on LinkedIn, you may need to consider signing up for a premium LinkedIn subscription. This will enable you to send inmail messages to anyone who is not in your network and will set you back around £30 per month after an initial month free trial. Inmail messages are limited so you will need to be strategic about how you use them up.

One way to avoid using them up is to become a first-degree connection in which case you can message freely. My advice here is to ensure you are sending out a personalised connection request.

Something worthwhile noting to check out before you waste a precious inmail message is to review the “Activity” section on a profile page, if there is no recent activity, it may mean this person may be less susceptible to engaging with you on LinkedIn.

Now you need to think about the content of your message, ultimately you want to catch the attention of the hiring manager, ensuring it is personalised, fun and emotive whilst conveying your value and what you can offer. Make sure you have a good 30-second elevator pitch that briefly describes your background and value proposition. And remember that people hire people they like so try to build rapport.

Build your network, and don’t be afraid of rejection. Not everyone will respond right away, use trial and error to improve your messages each time.

In conclusion, taking a proactive approach to job searching can lead to a variety of benefits, including more job opportunities, a competitive advantage, networking opportunities, improved confidence, and a better job fit. While a reactive job search may be easier and require less effort, it may not yield the same results as a proactive job search. So, if you’re in the market for a new job, consider taking a proactive approach and see where it takes you!

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