The passive job search

Ken Pelczarski | TLT Career Coach July 2018

An approach with unexpected career benefits.

Tend to and maintain your professional network even when you're not looking for a job. It's a seed you plant for the future.
© Can Stock Photo / glopphy

We all have a good feeling for how satisfied we are in our current jobs. As a result, we often decide not to spend any time looking at the job market and may even turn away possible opportunities without careful evaluation. Below are a few important questions to ask yourself to determine your level of job satisfaction.

Do you enjoy your job day to day?
Are you sufficiently challenged? 
Are you utilizing your skill set to the fullest? 
Do you have a great boss? 
Do you fit well with the company culture? 
Do you have future growth opportunities? 

Even if you answered yes to all the above questions, you may still want to keep an eye on the job market. You might be surprised at some of the career benefits you can achieve through listening and learning when opportunities arise.

If you are successful in your field, you will be contacted about career opportunities weekly or monthly by industry colleagues, independent recruiters and directly by employers. Not only should each opportunity be examined carefully, but the professionalism of each contact should be evaluated to determine your desire to build and maintain a relationship.

Top 10 career benefits from a passive job search
1. Bolster your network. Networking is the most common way individuals find new career opportunities. By keeping in touch with your existing network and continually making new industry contacts, you will enhance and expand your current network and find yourself helping others and receiving help from others more frequently. On the other hand, you will have more limited opportunities when you tell yourself you are happy with your current job and do not communicate much with other industry professionals.

2. Provide colleagues with industry leads. Networking is about the mutual exchange of ideas, information and interests so each individual is in a better position to help the other person when a suitable career opportunity arises. You will frequently learn about opportunities that do not interest you, especially if you are not actively job searching. By sharing information such as job leads and speaking engagement opportunities with industry colleagues, they are more likely to keep you in mind for future opportunities that may interest you.

3. Keep your resume updated. This is a critical document to keep updated and have available to present to a prospective employer or a networking contact. It is much easier to update your resume on a regular basis (at least annually) than to go back five to 10 years and try to remember all your accomplishments and key responsibilities. When you are open to listening to new career opportunities, situations will arise that should stimulate you to keep your resume current.

4. Measure your job against other opportunities. You may think you are currently in the best role possible for personal job satisfaction and growth. It will benefit your career, however, to test the market periodically to discover the types of opportunities that could be available to give you greater job satisfaction, better utilization of your skill set and a career path to achieve your long-term goals. 

5. Examine your monetary value. In the course of listening to potential career opportunities, you will be speaking with prospective employers, independent recruiters, networking contacts and industry colleagues. You should be able to gain a consensus from these sources regarding your average worth in the industry. You will learn compensation ranges for similar roles with other employers. You also should be able to obtain valued opinions from industry peers regarding what compensation range is right for your background.

6. Stay informed on industry trends. The lubricants industry is as dynamic as most other fields. There is always new information out there that could influence (1.) how you conduct your current job, (2.) your approaches to problem solving, (3.) your further education, (4.) how to utilize your recently acquired advanced degree and/or (5.) whether you decide to look for another position or start your own business. By listening with an open mind when opportunities arise, you will learn industry news and trends such as types of backgrounds in demand, growing industry sectors, mergers and acquisitions, companies expanding and hiring and technology trends. You may even pick up tips on how to stay ahead of the competition. 

7. Be visible. Staying visible among industry peers allows others to keep better informed of your activities, accomplishments, goals and job status. You may be surprised at opportunities that come your way in areas such as presenting, publishing, volunteering and even a better job. Maintain industry visibility by (1.) staying connected with your network, (2.) attending trade shows, conferences and industry meetings, (3.) volunteering, (4.) getting published, (5.) giving presentations, (6.) maintaining a LinkedIn profile, (7.) participating in professional social media discussions and (8.) achieving honors and awards.

8. Sharpen your presentation skills. Simply put, the more you talk about your background, interests, goals and accomplishments to prospective employers and networking contacts, the sharper your presentation skills become. When opportunities appear, be sure to exchange information authentically with other industry professionals so each individual leaves the conversation knowing who the other person is and what they want.

9. Prepare for a future job search. Through being passively on the job market, continually talking with industry contacts and listening to available opportunities, you are giving yourself great preparation in case you start an active job search due to job dissatisfaction or unemployment. You will have (1.) a solid network in place, (2.) researched your monetary value, (3.) established contacts with target employers, (4.) your presentation skills tuned up, (5.) your resume updated and (6.) references lined up. With this kind of preparation, your job search will gain immediate momentum with the likelihood of finding a new position quickly.

10. Find a better opportunity. This is the greatest possible benefit that could happen from a passive job search. Why is that? Because you are already feeling satisfied with your current job and yet you found a new position with which you could be even happier and more fulfilled. You would likely never have found this opportunity if you had closed your mind to changing employers and had stopped listening when opportunities presented themselves.

I have known numerous lubricant industry professionals over the years who have said yes to a new career opportunity when they were not really looking for one. Many of these individuals were surprised to find a new job they viewed as significantly better for their career path than their current one. At the same time, however, most of these professionals wisely were careful about giving up a position with which they were quite satisfied while closely evaluating the level of risk and the likelihood of a long-term fit with the job change.

Aim to be an active listener during a passive job search. When opportunity knocks, open the door and examine what it has to offer. This entire process will deliver a wide range of career benefits.
Ken Pelczarski is owner and founder of Pelichem Associates, a Chicago-based search firm established in 1985 and specializing in the lubricants industry. You can reach Ken at (630) 960-1940 or at