Passive job searching

Published on Aug 04, 2022 by Matt Bud, The FENG
Evolving Job Market Job Leads & Job Boards Networking

I know it may sound strange coming from someone publishing hundreds of pages of job leads a month, but job leads are overrated.

If you are over the age of 40 and all you are doing is answering job leads in our newsletter or from any of the well respected jobs sites, you may as well be writing to yourself for all the good you are doing. Yes, I know you can proudly tell those who ask that you answered 20 ads today, but for the most part, you are competing with the entire world. Sure, you could do the job, and my belief is you could do it well, but clients want what clients want and search firms have to deliver that exact thing or lose the assignment.

For positions posted on publicly available boards, the competition is fierce. Most folks who use these boards sign up for their tracker services and have any and all jobs of interest emailed to them the moment they appear. And, when it comes to search firms, either contingency or retained, they tend to have a very specific idea of what they are looking for. You see their postings in our newsletter, and yes, someone does get hired. Often times it is a member of The FENG, so I guess lightening does strike or, in effect, someone wins the lottery. That said, the odds aren’t in your favor.

The good news AND the bad news is that you are very talented. Over the course of a 20+ year career you have likely had many experiences that make you VERY qualified. I was speaking to a member at our meeting in Westport (back when we had in person meetings) and suggested that his problem is exactly that. He has had TOO many experiences. Not unlike most of our members, he is far from the blank slate that most employers who post open jobs are looking for.

If all you do is focus on job leads, you are engaging in a passive job search. I don’t care how much time you spend tailoring your resume to specific openings, you will never get to where you want to be without networking.

Job search is a contact sport. All you need to participate is a competent resume and a resource pool of individuals you can call or email.

I assume most members have a decent resume. If it isn’t all it can be, keep working on it. Get a book on writing a resume. Share it with friends and keep improving it. Unlike the “bad old days” when I was looking for work during the last century (and yes, it does seem like a long time ago, but it was only 1991) you had to print 500 copies of your resume. Now you only create enough for the day, or none at all if you are sending them electronically.

And, as far as the resource pool of individuals you can contact, all of you are blessed with access to the entire membership directory for The FENG, as of this point in time, 35,000 names with full contact information and work histories.

While no directory is ever completely accurate, by and large, there are enough folks for you to play with from now until the cows come home (to use an old Indiana expression). I suppose what makes the directory useful also makes it intimidating. No, you don’t have to call everyone. That is not how you use a database.

I don’t know who you are or what kinds of folks would be most open to networking with you, but I would hope you can puzzle through it. To get you started, I will walk you through my background which is primarily Advertising and Publishing.

I am in two special interest groups: Professional Services and Media. If I found myself overwhelmed by the full national directory, I would start with those SIG’s. If you put in the companies where you have worked and the names of well respected firms that competed with those firms, you will come up with a very long list of new and old friends. Most industries are actually very small and incestuous. People either know you or know of you or at worst know people you know. Starting conversations with these individuals is easy. It doesn’t take much to push their buttons.

What’s better though is that they understand the nature of your background, what you did and how you did it, better than the rest of humanity. Because of this, they know where to send you and who to send you to.

Networking isn’t brain surgery, but it is hard work. Being an effective networker only requires the ability to write emails to long lost friends or to strangers (who are only friends you have not yet gotten to know), and to pick up that 400 pound phone (without dropping it on your foot), dial numbers and speak into the microphone.

While I do know members who have somehow been able to get a new job by only using a passive job search approach, I know a whole lot more who have gotten the job of their dreams by actively networking.

The name of our august body is The Financial Executives NETWORKING Group, not The Financial Executives JOB POSTING ANSWERING Organization.

There’s a reason for that.

Regards, Matt