Top tips for passive job seekers

By Alison Doyle

Do you love your job? Don’t want to even think about looking for a new position? Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job you wouldn’t ever consider quitting, you should be prepared to move on. There are also reasons that it can make sense to quit a job you love.

Companies reorganize or need to lay-off workers for financial reasons, management changes, you could get a new boss who isn’t as great to work for as your old supervisor, or your personal circumstances could change and you may need to seek employment.

What is active job searching?

Active job searching occurs when someone currently needs a new job. Active job seekers post their resume on job boards and search and apply for jobs. In addition, job seekers who are actively seeking employment use LinkedIn, social networking sites, and apps to expedite their search for a new position.

Active job seekers also network, attend job fairs and industry events, and contact connections, friends and relatives about potential job opportunities. An active job seeker may also contact a recruiting agency or send letters of interest to specific employers.

What is passive job searching?

A passive job search occurs when someone who is currently employed is open to hearing about new career opportunities, but does not actively seek out and apply to specific positions. In passive job searching, the employed worker waits for employers to contact him rather than searching and applying for jobs like an active job seeker.

It’s a good model to follow because you will be prepared to job hunt at any given moment. If circumstances are such that it’s time to job search, it’s quick and easy to turn a passive job search into an active job search and you’ll be good to go.

Passive job seekers may (and should) keep their resume and LinkedIn Profile updated and may engage in casual networking with colleagues and friends at other companies.

Passive job seekers may also set up job alerts on job boards and set up accounts on job search websites and social media such as LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

Why it’s important to be prepared to job search

That’s why it’s important to always be prepared to job hunt, even if you don’t have to today. It’s much easier to have everything you need ready to job search, to check out what jobs are available in your career field and preferred location and to know what those jobs are paying than it is to have to scramble to start a job search from scratch on a moment’s notice.


Passive job seekers who invest a little time in staying job search ready will save a lot of time (and stress) getting up to speed when they need to job search. Here are my top 10 tips for passive job seekers.

1. Be an active LinkedIn user
Build a robust LinkedIn Profile including education, experience, volunteering, skills, certifications and associations, etc. Your LinkedIn Profile is the online version of your resume, so be sure to proofread it carefully.

Once your Profile is set, connect with everyone you know. The operative word is  ‘know’ – don’t connect with random people because they aren’t going to be in a position to help you.

Join relevant LinkedIn Groups. There are job search groups, company groups, alumni groups, college groups, and networking groups. The Groups are good sources of networking contacts, job search advice, and job listings. Since you’re not actively job searching, set the email notifications for each Group to a weekly digest so you aren’t buried in messages.

2. Write recommendations
Giving to get works every time. Write LinkedIn recommendations for some of your connections. In return, you’ll get a recommendation back from at least some of the people you provide a reference for. Those recommendations show on your Profile and they are a reference in advance to a potential employer.

3. Tap into social networking
Don’t stop with LinkedIn. The days when Facebook was only used for personal networking are gone. Set up Twitter and Google+ accounts, as well, and use them to expand your base of connections.

The stronger your social presence, the more likely you are to be tapped by companies using social recruiting to find candidates for employment.

4. Build a career network
You don’t have to spend a lot of time networking, but do take the time to add connections to your network on a regular basis. The bigger your network, the more opportunities you’ll have when you’re job searching.

5. Stay connected to your network
Don’t build a network and forget about it. It’s important for your connections to know you are there. Post status updates on Facebook, tweet now and then, post interesting links to your social networking pages.

If you have a blog that’s appropriate for professional connections to read, feed it to your social networking pages. That way your pages will be current without you having to do much work.

Once a week, email or send a LinkedIn or Facebook message to five connections to ask how they are doing. Staying in touch reminds your connections of who you are and shows that you care about how they are doing. If you’re interested and engaged, your contacts will be more likely to give you help if and when you need it.

With the connections you are friendly enough with to meet in-person, have a cup or coffee or lunch once in a while.

6. Check out companies
Do you have a company you would love to work for if the perfect job came along? It’s always a good idea to have a list of companies you’d like to work for. Have a list of target companies ready and check out the company website every once in a while to read the latest news and check out what jobs are available.

7. Check job listings 
Once a week spend a few minutes using a job search engine to run a few job searches using your skills, job title and/or the location where you would like to work. You’ll see, at a glance, a list of open jobs that match your background.

8. Update your resume
Have an updated resume ready to go. Each time you change jobs or your educational status changes, update your resume. This way, you’ll always have a current copy of your resume to use, if need be.

Write a cover letter draft for a job that is a close match to your expertise. You’ll have a template ready to customize when you are ready to apply for jobs.

9. Be interview ready
Don’t use up all your accrued vacation or personal leave time unless you have to. Keep some in reserve, so you have time to interview if an opportunity that’s too good to pass up comes along.

Have an interview outfit ready to go to save time scrambling to find something to wear at the last minute. Also have a list of employment references ready. Some companies require references along with a resume and cover letter as part of the application process.

10. Start over
Every few weeks, go through these steps to make sure that your passive job search techniques are working. Is your LinkedIn networking growing? Are you remembering to reach out to your connections? Do you have a sense of what jobs you qualify for and what jobs are available? On a related note, are you skills and certifications current so you’re qualified for positions of interest? Are you ready to interview if you get an invitation from an employer?

The more prepared you are to job search, in advance, the easier it will be to start a job hunt and find a new job fast if you need to.

This article first appeared at The Balance