Passive vs. Active Job Search: 3 Tips for Success

By Robert Half August 6, 2015 at 11:15pm

It may seem counterintuitive to consider the concept of a "passive job search." After all, doesn't a job search require serious effort? But with changing attitudes about job hopping and a positive employment outlook, the passive job search is a growing phenomenon.

An active job search in the field of accounting and finance involves a concerted effort to locate and pursue opportunities. Sending out resumes, applying online for open positions and spending countless hours looking at what's out there are some of the key characteristics. That takes considerable effort, especially when you already have a finance job to occupy most of your waking hours.

A passive search, on the other hand, can fall anywhere along a spectrum of activity, from casually perusing job boards for a few minutes here and there to simply being open to talking to your network or to recruiters when approached.

Tips for Passive Searchers

We’ve shared tips for active job searchers on many of our other blog posts. Here are some ideas specifically for passive seekers:

1. Build your personal brand.

Whether you're an active or passive job candidate, you need a personal branding statement. It's obvious that active candidates need to be prepared to sell themselves to potential employers. Ideally, they will be going to interviews and need to be ready for all that entails. Interviews also provide the motivation and practice to polish their approach. Passive candidates, on the other hand, may suddenly find themselves faced with the chance to explore an opportunity, and they'll be unprepared to communicate their value unless they keep their personal brand top of mind.

2. Keep your resume updated.

Whether you're sending it out tomorrow or have no intention of applying for a new position, you should get in the habit of updating your resume regularly. This will benefit both an active and passive job search, because you can document your accomplishments along the way, while they are fresh, rather than trying to remember important details months or even years after the fact.

3. Be visible online.

There are many social media platforms, from LinkedIn to personal blogs and websites, like Use these tools to boost your personal brand and initiate communications, so hiring managers and recruiters can find you even if you're not actively looking. Make sure you get the most out of LinkedIn, using the most relevant keywords and displaying a range of recommendations.  

It's natural for the passive candidate to ignore some elements of a job search, but the reality of the job market today is that opportunity can come knocking anytime. Being prepared could lead to fantastic career growth, and when passive job seekers start active searching, they've got a leg up on the competition if they already have all these basic points covered.

Are you a passive job search candidate? How do you make sure you're ready for opportunities that might present themselves? Leave your comment below.

Want More?

Ready to take an active step in your job search? Submit your resume to Robert Half Finance & Accounting!

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