When it comes to being proactive about finding a job – exactly whose permission are you waiting for?

by K B , updated on May 18, 2016

"attitude is everything" cloud word on sky

Back in 2010 I wrote a book with a friend of mine, James Evangelidis.

It was called “What do employers really want?”

We interviewed 25 employers of all sizes and backgrounds, across 15 industries and asked them questions on what they look for in people when they hire them.

I was really curious to know how employers viewed people contacting them and asking for a job – when there was no job advertised.

24 out of 25 employers said they’d welcome an approach.

But there was a caveat.

The person contacting them needed to have a genuine interest in the organisation, a clear idea of their skills, and where they might fit or add some value.

An even better approach was where someone could help that employer solve a business problem they may have had at the time.

In my consulting business I have always found that doors open when I am presenting a solution for a problem I know an organisation is experiencing.

I look for an “entry point” or an “educated guess” if you like.

That entry point could be around the way I can see their employees are using LinkedIn, or the quality of their online recruitment practices.

I have also proposed training courses when I have seen that similar organisations are offering these, or there’s been a definite benefit to the organisation I have approached.

Other times I have asked a decision maker about what they were looking for in a particular service, if they saw a gap that needed filling, and come back to them with a proposal that included what they wanted – and more.

These approaches have worked because I have shown in various ways that I have done my research. I am listening to the organisation, and finding something that I can offer that meets a need.

In making these approaches I am adopting the idea that I am a consultant in my own career.

The employment market has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. Now more than 30% of roles are part-time, casual or contract.

Our parents lived in an era where there was one job for life.

We’re now emerging from an era where we’ve had numerous jobs or careers, and entering a time where we’ll have many jobs at the one time.

Most people are aware of the stats on the hidden job market.

Many people see the wealth of information that’s publicly available online and on LinkedIn about people and the places they work, and that it’s now so easy to do your research.

Most people understand the idea that they can find people to approach for a role, either directly or through their network.

When I provide examples and case studies showing ways to make an approach to employers using some of the techniques I have just described, most of my clients nod their heads and agree that that’s something they could do.

They agree that there are plenty of business “problems” that need solving. As employers, they agree that they hire on fit and attitude.

But then there’s the catch.

Most people don’t do anything like what I have just described.

They sit.

They wait for jobs to be advertised.

They apply online.

When people know that a proactive attitude is almost everything, and that attitude could put them ahead of the pack, I am very curious about why this happens.

Exactly whose permission are they waiting for?

K B

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