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There are two kinds of job searches, reactive and proactive. Most people use reactive job search strategies, which means they look for job openings and then apply to the ones that interest them. So, when you send your resume to recruiters and respond to job board postings, you are really at the mercy of what comes up.

In a proactive job search, you pick the companies and the jobs you are seeking. This way, you get the job that you chose and worked to get versus just hoping a good job comes your way through the recruiters and job boards.

Before you start your job search, make sure you have a well-optimized resume and LinkedIn profile, since employers will use these to see if you're a great candidate for the job. Once you've updated those, you're ready to begin your proactive job search.

Here are four key steps in a proactive job search.

1. Identify Which Companies Interest You

Young woman researches companies for her proactive job search

There are a number of ways you can identify companies. Start by making a list of 10-20 companies that you think you would love to work for. This is your interview bucket list.

Talk to your friends and colleagues and see who they recommend as well. Note that LinkedIn has a very strong company search feature that can help. Go to LinkedIn, hit the menu button the the search bar, select "Companies," and then search. If you find a company that might interest you, click on their profile and see if you're passionate about a product or service they provide, or their mission.

If you are, then you should probably add the company to your list.

2. Research The Companies

Man researches companies for his proactive job search

The next step in a proactive job search is to learn more about the organization and determine if it is a place you really want to work. There are a number of ways to do this. The first thing to do is to visit the company website and go to the "About Us" section. You can review the company history, products, and services, and make sure you check out the "News" and "Press Releases" section to see the latest newsworthy events.

Make sure you look at their blog, too—if they have one—as it gives you a good idea of their areas of expertise and corporate culture. Also check out all of their social media accounts to get a better idea of the company culture, and remember to follow them.

Also, there are a number of excellent tools like Glassdoor that provide anonymous reviews of thousands of companies, salaries being paid, reviews of the corporate culture, and evaluations of top executives. Sometimes they will even show you questions that are asked in an interview. It's a good idea to research companies on this site and on similar sites during your proactive job search.

3. Leverage Your Network

Woman leverages her network during a proactive job search

Go back to LinkedIn's company search capability and enter the name of the company that interests you. Note that when the listing comes up, it will tell you how many people in your network are employed there. This is a good place to start and you can reach out to these people for assistance.

Tip: People respond much better when they are asked for advice versus being asked to help you get a job.

A good message to send to your connections on LinkedIn might be "I am looking at XYZ as a potential employer and was wondering if you could tell me about the corporate culture there?" You can also send this type of message to your extended network.

4. Reach Out To Hiring Managers

Father conducts a proactive job search

Now that you have identified companies that interest you, it is time to identify people who work there. Again, LinkedIn is a great tool here.

Start by identifying the hiring manager and staff in the area you wish to join. Look for people who would be your peers and their managers.

Now see what LinkedIn Groups they've joined. This is important because if you join the same group, you can now communicate with them for free without updating your LinkedIn account.

Look to see if they have participated in any group discussions. This is a great way to enter the conversation and start showcasing your expertise. And remember to keep your comments upbeat, positive, and professional.

Do the same for Twitter. Select the contact button under their profile and see if they have a Twitter handle. Follow them and see what kinds of tweets they have put out. Again, a terrific way to join the conversation.

Now look to see if you have people in your LinkedIn contacts that can provide an introduction to them. Ask what they know about the company and do they recommend them as a potential employer? Ask them what they think is the best way to get introduced.

Note that you did not ask them to introduce you, but rather you asked them for advice on how to get introduced. You're not asking for a favor.

Finally, reach out to the hiring manager. Make sure you have a good 30-second elevator pitch that briefly describes your background and value proposition. And remember that people hire people they like so try to build rapport.

Download Work It Daily\u2019s free job search checklist

A proactive job search takes discipline so set weekly goals for yourself. The benefit is you will end up in a job that you chose instead of one you got through happenstance.


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This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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