the Proactive-Reactive Search

October 26th, 2006

So here’s the deal. In my executive network meetings there’s a lot of talk about looking for a company, not a job. It makes a lot of sense and lots of experts talk about it. So we will sit around and talk about companies that we’re interested in, someone will bring up a new company and see if anyone knows anything about it and stuff like that. It is a great brainstorm session on companies that people are looking at getting into. There is little-to-no discussion of any particular job title because it is more important for this high-power group to talk about CxO issues around the company.

But yesterday I get a call from a headhunter (yep, my profile is on Monster where all you recruiters can still find it) asking me if I’m interested in a VP of IT position, salary range is $100k-$130k (which I think is pretty good for the Salt Lake area). I asked her who the company was but she said she couldn’t tell me, only that it was about $200M.
I’m moving forward with JibberJobber so I tell her I’m not interested but I’d be happy to think about who I know that might be qualified.

So, here’s where the proactive-reactive thing comes into play. If I’m looking for a company-not-a-job, and I don’t even know what company this is, should I tell her I’m interested? That would mean I’m switching to looking for a job :( I’m confused. My take is, have a proactive strategy where you look for the company, but don’t overlook a reactive strategy where you take care of things that fall in your lap. Here’s why:

  1. Interviewing is a great exercise. Whether you are actively looking for a job, happily employed or somewhere inbetween, it is a great way to keep some skills up and get in the proper frame of mind. If you have the opportunity, go to the interview!
  2. Let’s assume this company turns out to NOT be one of your target companies. Maybe your target companies is a bad list, and in the interview process you find out that this is a really really cool company! Don’t cross it off the list just because it isn’t on your list.
  3. Meeting this recruiter and the hiring manager would be a great way to expand your network! Think about it, recruiters are power connectors and they need to know who you are. The hiring manager would be someone that you *should* know, and have in your network, and this is a great way to begin a relationship with him/her.

If it just flat-out isn’t going to work out (like in my case) then open up your network to the recruiter. That puts you at the top of their list and they will remember that, and you never know when they can reciprocate.

So, be proactive-reactive! But don’t self-combust ;)

I know this seems like common sense but when you are on the front-line of the job search it is easier than you would think to maintain a myopic perspective of what you should be doing, and overlook something like this.

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10 Responses to “the Proactive-Reactive Search”

  1. Carl Chapman says:

    Wow! I’m a power connector… yippee! I am somebody. LOL.

    OK, there have been only a few times in my medium lengthed recruiting career when I “couldn’t” tell a prospect who the company was. Usually because an incumbent was being transitioned out. At all other times, once I pre-qual a candidate, they get all the details. My job is hard enough with out wasting people’s time sending them on interviews for companies that they wouldn’t work for.

    Keep up the good work Jason. BTW, I still have a guest host spot open. ;-)

    Restaurant Recruiter | Restaurant Jobs | Restaurant Recruiters Blog

  2. Jason says:

    In Never Eat Alone he notes 7 different types of power connectors, and recruiters were the 2nd… I’m not sure if he has them ordered by power, but its right up there because of the nature of your work.

    I’m glad to hear that you can tell what the companies are… I think it is kind of hokey not telling but understand there are confidentiallity issues, especially if the incumbent is about to get the boot :)

  3. I’m with you – be focused in your proactive search, and open to opportunity in the reactive part of your search. And every job seeker needs both elements.

    You can’t proactively research and link into 1000 companies per week (at least I couldn’t) so focus helps you make progress on the proactive side. (And a short, focused target list helps your network help you.)

    AND, you can’t possibly proactively find all of the organizations that would be great fits for you (unless you are a misfit, in which the list might be pretty short), so you need to be open to opportunity when it knocks. Even here, though, having some focus on what criteria a potential employer must meet will help you decide whether or not to respond to queries.

  4. Jason says:

    Kent, your post reminded me of something… when you do get your target companies, LET OTHERS KNOW! It is powerful in a conversation to be able to say “do you know anyone that works in x, y, or z at American Express” or something like that.

    Another take on it is, maybe this VP position will be a great role… for 2 or 3 years! You still network, and work towards your target company, while your resume and skillset improves and your network circles expand.

  5. Tim Elliott says:

    Some good food for thought here, Jason; thanks.

    One thing that had me scratching my head on was your point that you were still searchable on Monster. Since I’m going to a proactive phase in my job search which includes networking with recruiters, I have turned off my online profiles on the job boards thinking recruiters would be more inclined to work with me if I wasn’t overexposed. So my question for you and your recruiter readers is if this is a good move or not. BTW, I’m still online at LinkedIn and my resume is open at emurse, but the other accounts are now in stealth mode.

  6. Jason says:

    Tim, interesting question. My profile is still on Monster for a few reasons: (a) I’m lazy (that’s the biggest reason), (b) I find it interesting that I still get e-mails from the boards (got one from Dice yesterday) and I want to know if they will ever catch onto the JibberJobber thing (like, announce they have built their own version – copycats! you heard it hear first :p) and (c) I like to get calls from recruiters… it gives me something to blog about – I really like to stay “in touch” with the real job seeker and hope to not get too far away from the real issues.

    I know some recruiters talk A LOT about using LinkedIn to find candidates… I’d love to hear what some of them have to say also… hopefully someone will chime in.

  7. Carl Chapman says:

    I don’t ever have a problem with someone having a resume on line, active on Monster, a profile on LinkedIn, ZoomInfo or whatever.

    I just don’t want to se them submitting their resume for every single job posting that I make, or sending it to me once a month. THAT is overexposed. Active on Monster is OK with me.

    Now, if you are active on Monster, and working with OTHER recruiters, that’s OK too… just be honest when I ask you about it. If you aren’t, you will go onto the black list…. and you don’t want to be there.

    Restaurant Recruiter | Restaurant Jobs | Restaurant Recruiters Blog

  8. Carl Chapman says:

    I negelected to mention, that if I were marketing a candidate on an active basis, then I would require that they deactivate their profiles on any job boards for the agreed upon period of time that I was marketing them.

    Restaurant Recruiter | Restaurant Jobs | Restaurant Recruiters Blog

  9. Jason says:

    Carl, thanks for the follow-up… I would have been confused by your comment as I am leary of getting into an exclusive relationship, but I got another recruiter to comment (via e-mail) who posted the same idea… again proving I don’t know much about recruiters :p So go check the blog post from today (10/27).

  10. [...] In yesterday’s post one of my readers made a comment about whether they should deactivate their Monster profile… since I’m no expert I threw it to the recruiters. I got two great replies, one from Carl Chapman (in two parts – check the comments) and an e-mail from Dave. Here’s his e-mail, it is very very very interesting (I learned a lot from this e-mail)… I bolded what I wanted to and my comments are in red: [...]

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