Podcast Episode #23 Why is an ‘active’ job search strategy so important, with host Leah Lambart

In this episode, I explained the difference between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ job search strategies and why all jobseekers must be utilising an ‘active’ job search strategy in the post-Covid job market.

In this episode I discussed:

  • What is a ‘passive’ job search strategy
  • What is an ‘active’ job search strategy
  • Why an active job search strategy is so important
  • Three things you can do now to prepare for your future job search
  • An example of the ‘active’ job search strategy in practise


Leah Lambart 0:02
Welcome to the Relaunch your career podcast. I’m your host Leah Lambart, career and interview coach and founder of Relaunch Me where we help you find the work that you were meant to do.

Hi everyone and welcome to the podcast. I’m your host Leah Lambart, career coach from Relaunch Me. Well it is end of week one of the stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne and I know a lot of our listeners are from Victoria. So I’m just thinking of you all. If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering when this is going to end, I am homeschooling three children. My husband is away for work for three months. So I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and trying to focus on the positives. For me they are; sleeping in an extra hour, not having to pack lunch boxes every morning, not spending my life driving kids to activities in Melbourne traffic, doing my coaching sessions in my ugh boots and spending more time with my beloved Border Collie Halle. I probably should also say that I am loving spending time with my kids. But frankly, I think we are needing a little bit of time apart. So it’s around lunchtime on Friday here and I’m pleased to say that homeschooling is finished for the day and I can actually get some work done. So the job market has taken another huge hit this week,, especially in Victoria, with all non essential businesses closed down as of yesterday. So that means thousands of businesses have been forced to close under these new stage for restrictions. And about 250,000 jobs are expected to be lost. Our Treasurer Josh Frydenburg said today that we’ll have around 1.5 million Victorians, which is nearly half the private sector workforce, on Jobkeeper during the September quarter and that means 4 million Australian employees on Jobkeeper. So the situation is quite bleak, especially in Victoria.

So, today I wanted to talk to you about your job search strategy, and the difference between what I call a passive job search strategy and an active job search strategy. On a more positive note, though, we are still coaching clients for interviews, which shows that companies are still hiring and recruitment is continuing. And I’ve also been speaking to quite a lot of my friends who are recruiters and they are still taking job briefs and they’re still filling roles. So I guess the message is keep looking. Don’t give up on your job search because there are still roles Some industries. Obviously, in Victoria especially industries such as retail, hospitality events, sport, travel has been hugely impacted. So I expect we won’t see many jobs being advertised in those industries for quite some time. So today I wanted to talk to you about what I call an active job search strategy versus what I call a passive job search strategy. Firstly, I’ll explain the difference.

So, passive job search strategy is the traditional job search strategy which most people know and, by default, the job strategy that most people go back to. And so, what I mean by passive job search is that you are only applying to advertised roles. The most common passive job search strategy is going on to job boards like Seek, Indeed Jura, Ethical Jobs, where you are applying to jobs that have been advertised. The other passive job search strategy is going through recruiters. So you may have some recruitment contacts, and you will be contacting them and hoping that they will match you to a role. And look, I’m not saying don’t do that, but I’m saying that I think in the current job market and the future job market, you need to be doing more than that.

So, passive job search, it has worked in the past for people who are looking for jobs that are very similar to what they’re doing now, or jobs that are perhaps a slightly higher level when they’re ready to move up to that next position.

A lot of the clients that we work with are career changers, or people that have been out of the workforce for some time, so they might be moms who are returning to work after a significant break. They might be carers or they might be people who are looking to make a significant change in their career. So, for those people going to job boards and recruiters, unfortunately is never is rarely going to work. And the reason being, if you go to a job board and you’re applying for jobs online, then it will usually be a competitive process and you will be compared to possibly hundreds of other candidates who have the exact experience that they’re looking for, for that role. Recruiters, are paid by the client to find the closest match. So recruiters, it’s very unlikely they will choose someone that’s come from a completely different industry, or a completely different job role, or has been out of the workforce for two, five or 10 years unless there is personal connection, You will find some recruiters will think out of the box and they will be able to match you to particular roles based on transferable skills. But that is unlikely. The client when they’re paying big fees to recruiters, they want someone who can tick off 90/95% of that criteria. Someone ideally with relevant industry experience, the right qualifications, local market experience, so they are quickly going to stop using that recruiter if the recruiter sends them a shortlist of candidates that don’t meet the brief.

So, the clients that we work with, who are career changers or people looking to return to work after a break, we teach them how to undertake active job search. And that means that you are in the driver’s seat. You are looking for people, not jobs.

So the best way of doing this, is actually coming up with a list of target companies, or thinking about people that you know who work in areas that interest you, and going direct. And I believe that in the future job market because it is going to be competitive, we’re hearing of some clients applying for jobs where there’s 600 to 1000 applications. But I think every job seeker out there, regardless of the industry needs to take a more active job search approach.

Another reason why I believe that this is going to be really important is in the current situation in this pandemic, and after this pandemic, there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty for business. And in times of uncertainty, employers and hiring managers will always choose someone who has come recommended by an internal staff member or a personal contact rather than wading through hundreds of applications. So just think if you were a hiring manager, and someone internally said, “hey, I’ve received a resume from someone, I’ve had a chat with this guy, he sounds really good and he’s really interested in working for us”. I, if it was me, I would say, “well, let’s contact him and see what he’s like, before we start reviewing these 500 applications”.

So, where you can, look for contacts, look for introductions and go direct. So in order to implement this type of active job search strategy, there’s a couple of things that you could start to do. And obviously, you know, particularly in Victoria where the market is, you know, we don’t really know what’s going to happen. I think there can be some things that you’re doing behind the scenes, getting ready for when things start to improve. So the first thing I would say is to brainstorm your current network. So I would put a spreadsheet together of everyone that you can think of. So you might go back through every role that you’ve had in the past. And think of your bosses, colleagues, supervisors, or external clients or contacts that you had a good relationship with, and who would be an advocate for you.

They say that most people know at least 150 people, and even people out there and I talk to clients all the time, who are introverts, and they say, I don’t really have a network. I believe everyone has a network. And if you sat down with your partner or your family and wrote down everyone that you know, I would guarantee you would come up with 150 people. So what you’ve got to think about is, if you know 150 people, and those 150 people also know 150 people, then suddenly you have 22,500 second degree contacts that are in your network. And I must admit that every time I hear that number, I have to go back and quickly do that calculation again, to make sure it’s correct, because to me, that sounds like it sounds too many.

So I guess what I’m saying is, think about who is in your network. Think about your network and who they know. And don’t be afraid to tell people that you’re looking for work, and what you’re looking for specifically, so that they can keep an ear out for you. You’ve got to make it easy for them to match you to opportunities.

So, I just want to give you an example of a personal example. So I have been recently helping a friend of mine who was made redundant after 15 years with an organization in Melbourne. And at this time, he and his partner thought that perhaps it was a good time to consider returning to the home state, given that he’s he’s lost his job and he has to start again. I’ve beengiving him a bit of a hand with his resume and LinkedIn and he told me that he had seen this job ad in his hometown and that he was, you know, quite interested in it. And because I have a bit of a obsession with LinkedIn, and whilst I was talking to him, I’ve quickly looked up the company page on LinkedIn. I clicked on their employees and saw that there was someone there in their executive team who I don’t know personally, but I know his wife, and my husband knows his wife and I haven’t seen her for probably 15 years but I also know that she’s got a sort of HR background and figured she probably wouldn’t mind me contacting her. We’ve sort of, you know, exchanged a few Facebook and LinkedIn messages over the years. So I rang this girl and I asked her if her husband enjoying working for this company and would he recommend them. Of course she ran outside and grabbed him and put him on the phone to me, so I had a chat to him, and again explained my friend situation. And of course he then offered for my friend to contact him to have a chat. So, they subsequently had a chat and he asked my friend to send him his resume direct. He then sent to the head of HR directly with a recommendation “I have spoken to this guy, he sounds like a great guy. I think we should throw him into the mix”. To cut a long story short, he got the job. He started in the role last week, and he’s enjoying it immensely so far. So I guess the point I’m making that, you know, there were over 120 applications. And his resume might have been almost a little bit out of the box, a little bit different to some of the other candidates. But because of that personal recommendation, I’m not saying that got him the job, but I would expect it possibly helped. So that is a bit of a long winded example, but I just wanted to show you how that second degree connection can really make a difference.

So, first thing was to brainstorm your current network, put it into a spreadsheet. And the second thing is I would put a list together of target companies or organizations that you think would be a good fit for you. So they might be companies where you’ve got relevant industry experience, companies where you already know a lot of people. And if you are looking for I guess roles in retail, hospitality or local business, it might be businesses that are local to you in your community. Often companies and recruiters do like to recruit local, because it means that people will stick around perhaps a little bit longer. So once you’ve identified those target companies, I would be then looking for people in those organizations that you already know or that you can build a connection with. And as anyone who has worked with me knows that I’m a absolute massive fan of LinkedIn, I spend way too much time on LinkedIn. But that is the way that I would then go about finding those people.

So, if you are not on LinkedIn, please build a profile and get onto LinkedIn. It is a brilliant tool for researching. It’s a great tool for connecting with old connections and building new connections. And look, I believe it’s a platform for everybody. I think even kids who are close to finishing school should be on LinkedIn using it as a research tool and pretty much everyone else, regardless of what industry you’re in.

This is just going to be a short episode. If you have any questions about implementing an active job search strategy, then please email me at leah@relaunchme.com.au. You can also go to our website and download one of our freebies which has a job search checklist, which has a few tips and a bit of advice in it. And you’ll find that under the fun stuff tab.

If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, I would love it if you could write a review on Apple podcasts or from whichever platform you’re listening from, because this helps other people find us. So in the meantime, hang in there everyone in lockdown. Remember, this is temporary. It will get better. So to everyone out there. I hope this episode was helpful and have a great day.

Hope you enjoyed this episode of Relaunch Your Career. If you did, please subscribe share with your friends leave a review or connect with us on social media @relaunchmecareerconsulting. If you have any questions about the episode or the work that we do, then contact us via the website www.relaunchme.com.au/contact

Thanks for listening. Have a great day.