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Why it pays to adopt the mind-set of a passive job seeker

By Robert Fong, Korn/Ferry International
January 3, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - With the job market only recently re-emerging from the doldrums, it would be easy enough for most people to simply continue thanking their lucky stars that they have a job until opportunities become more abundant. Those whose positions weathered the downturn are still generally soldiering on, wearing multiple hats in a resource-constrained environment.
Who has the time to look around?
You do. Whether a successful executive with seemingly strong job security or a seasoned professional starting to feel restless, you should consider adopting the mind-set of a passive job seeker.
A passive job seeker is generally described as someone who does not necessarily need or expect to make a job change anytime soon. Many executives my organization works with are passive job seekers for a number of years before they feel a strong need to make a change.
After all, what better way to plan for the inevitable job change than to be proactive about your career? When executive search professionals talk about managing one's career, they are encouraging folks to not wait for something unpleasant to happen at work.
Today, few individuals can say they have stayed with one company for their entire professional careers. A general rule of thumb is that most people will change jobs and companies at least four to six times over the course of their careers. For each person who claims that every opportunity was handed to him on a silver platter, at least 10 other people have had to look very hard for their next opportunity.
For executives, some job searches that used to take three to six months to complete are now taking up to a year. So often we hear from job seekers that they have been too busy at work for the past few years to keep up their professional networks, update their resumes or track the job market in their industry.
But the rewards of being at least a passive job seeker extend far beyond shortening your search in the event that you ever find yourself without a job. What are the benefits of becoming a passive job seeker?
Building your professional network. While fattening your Rolodex, you may identify potential mentors and confidants. Not many executives can look themselves in the mirror and say that there is no room for additional professional growth. Even the most successful CEOs and entrepreneurs need third parties they can count on for frank advice and counsel. And should you eventually need to look more actively for another opportunity, who better to vouch for you, without jeopardizing your current position, than

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