The best time to find a new job may be when you’re not even looking. Casting a wide net by posting openings on job boards and hoping to catch the right hire is time consuming and not always effective for employers. Instead, companies often look to recruit passive job searchers for open positions, reaching out to people who aren’t actively looking for work and then trying to persuade them to jump ship. As many as half of all job openings, especially higher-level positions, are filled this way, research has found.
Plenty of people are interested in tapping into that hidden job market. Nearly half of employed people are satisfied in their current job but also open to new opportunities, according to JobVite. But how can you signal to recruiters that you’re interested in work without going to all the trouble of a full-on job hunt?
The key is making yourself an attractive passive candidate. Recruiters looking to fill positions need to be able to find you and know what you bring to the table before they’ll reach out. In an industry with a talent shortage, you may not need to do very much – recruiters are probably already inundating you with invitations to connect. But others will need to be a bit more proactive.
Savvy professionals can do a few simple things that will make them more attractive to employers looking to hire. Employing these strategies is virtually painless and far less time-consuming than a traditional pound-the-pavement job search, and may yield even better results.
1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile
If you’re hoping to have someone approach you about a job, you need an optimized LinkedIn profile, since recruiters looking to fill positions frequently turn to the site. Treat your profile like an ad for yourself, with an engaging, descriptive headline, an up-to-date photo, and plenty of recommendations from people you know. Follow companies you’d be interested in working for, and use industry-specific keywords so you show up in searches and get active in relevant groups.
“Join [industry groups], especially if you want to change industries,” Tamryn M. Hennessy of Career Success Plan told MarketWatch. “It’s a tremendous way to get smart about an industry and get on a recruiter’s radar.”
Passive job seekers can also take advantage of LinkedIn’s new Open Candidates feature. The feature lets you specify what kind of jobs you’re interested in, so it’s easier for recruiters to find you. Recruiters at your own company won’t be able to see you’ve put out feelers, though.
2. Enhance your online presence
A great LinkedIn profile is a must for people who hope to catch the eye of recruiters, but it’s not the only way to get noticed. An active presence on other social networks can also help. Get involved in industry conversations on Twitter and follow organizations you’re interested in, since they may post about open jobs, Pamela Skillings of Big Interview advised. Even being active on Instagram can help you build your online presence and expand your network, according to Classy Career Girl. An online portfolio showcases your accomplishments in a way a resume can’t, and also ensures recruiters get a positive impression when they search for you online.
“If I come across something inappropriate, I won’t submit you for the job, even if you’re a good candidate otherwise. Speaking negatively about other people or about your current or previous company, for example, is an automatic red flag,” Tracey Russell, National Recruiter at Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, told Profiled.
Want another reason to make your social presence more professional? Facebook is testing a feature that would allow companies to post jobs and collect applications via their profiles.
3. Network in real life
Online networking is a must for the passive job seeker, but you shouldn’t forget keeping in touch with people face-to-face. Spend some time nurturing your network so when people have (or hear of) a job opening, they think of you. (Forty percent of jobs are filled through employee referrals, according to JobVite.) Join professional organizations in your area, attend relevant events, stay in touch with former colleagues, and help people out when they need a favor.
“[T]he more new people you know in the circles in which you want to work and play, the more great opportunities will come your way and the more help you’ll get at critical junctures in your career,” Keith Ferrazi, author of Never Eat Alone, wrote in an article for Monster.
4. Use the right apps
If you can swipe right to find a date, why shouldn’t you be able to do the same to find a new job? That’s the logic behind career-matching apps like Switch, which allows you to search for jobs on your phone, then swipe right when you find one you like. Companies are notified that you’re interested in their job, and they’ll get in touch if they think you’re a good fit. That’s way easier than sending out a custom cover letter and resume for every job ad that piques your interest.
Users of Anthology, a confidential job-search app, create a profile explaining what kinds of jobs they’re looking for. If your interests match up with what an employer is looking for, you’ll get an alert.
“[M]ost people are not actively looking for a job, but they’re also not 100% satisfied. And they’re generally open to new opportunities,” Tom Leung, the CEO of Anthology (then called Poachable) told PRI. “The big problem has always been you don’t want to jeopardize the relationship you have with your current employer by appearing to be one foot out the door; on the other hand, you don’t want to be completely in the dark and miss out on potentially great opportunities.”