Passive job seekers could be enticed by the right opportunity

Passive job seekers have time to be choosy

People who worked in the continuing education department in the ‘90s may remember that I advised them to always have a current passport and resumé. “You never know when you’ll want to get out of the country or look for a job,” I said.

At the time we were conducting study tours all over the world, and my licensed continuing education staff never knew when they might be picked to help lead a tour, so they needed current passports. The resumé suggestion, on the other hand, was universal, deadly serious and enduring, because you never know when your job will disappear. This fact means that if you’re not actively looking for a job, you should always at least be passively seeking one.

We don’t work in the same world that our parents or grandparents did. Today, few people live out their careers in one organization. In fact, jobs can be fleeting and temporary, even when they appear otherwise. Nurses, armed with a current resumé or CV, should be more prepared to move on by joining the ranks of dedicated passive job seekers, a large community of employees who are happy in their jobs but open to other opportunities. A 2014 LinkedIn survey of 18,000 employed people in 26 countries found that while only 12% were actively seeking employment, about 85% apparently were open to change — either actively or casually looking, networking or simply willing to talk to a recruiter.

you never know when your job will disappear. This fact means that if you’re not actively looking for a job, you should always at least be passively seeking one.”

Passive job seekers are not consciously looking for another job, but they might switch employers if the right position came their way. They may be in school and not sure if their current organizations will be able to accommodate their pending new credentials. Some seekers may be with significant others who are poised to relocate for their own jobs. Others may be staring down organizational changes, such as a new boss, that might push them to make a change. But whatever their job situation, diligent passive seekers learn to search before it becomes necessary.

If you are a passive job seeker, focus on these areas to position yourself for a potential job change:

1. Maintain a current resumé that includes your most recent job experience. For example it’s not enough to merely list your most current job; you should list some of the important things that you do from the job description. Every significant professional activity, such as holding office or participating on a committee in your employing or professional organization, should be noted on your resume. Every time you publish or present, note this on your resume, also. That document should be ready to be emailed at a moment’s notice for the right job opportunity.

2. Post your current resumé on a social networking site, such as LinkedIn, so employers who are fishing for candidates in the passive-seeking pool can find you. Believe me, employers are always perusing social media sites for likely candidates. Just Google the term “passive job seekers,” and you’ll find that most articles are addressed to employers looking for job candidates, not to the candidates themselves. Join LinkedIn groups as well, because these are exactly the groups that passive-seeker-seeking employers will search.

3. Maintain a social media network. Beyond LinkedIn, make sure you have a presence on other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. Know that potential employers who may be impressed with your resumé also are exploring your online personal pages, so be careful where you choose to be wild and wacky and who you allow access to your page and information.

Know that potential employers who may be impressed with your resumé also are exploring your online personal pages, so be careful where you choose to be wild and wacky and who you allow access to your page and information.”

4. Network periodically with the people you use as references. You want to stay visible and keep them current about your activities. Your references also may be sources of job opportunities. Make sure they know where you are in case they find a relevant job opportunity for you.

5. Make it a habit to routinely peruse job boards, such as those on A cursory online search will bring up traditional job boards, which also lead to other job boards, and those that are focused on specialties. You might not be looking for a job, but time spent on these sites will broaden your perspective on your own job and opportunities you may not have thought of.

If you are happily employed, know that you are a much-desired job candidate. Many employers actively recruit passive seekers because they know that those professionals are already secure in their jobs, don’t need to inflate their qualifications, aren’t desperate for a job and can be picky about a change. Employers hit the mother lode if they can persuade someone else’s good employee to switch to their organization. So, own your status with (quiet) attitude. Few employers are averse to quietly recruiting the best employees from a competition’s team, and a few are not afraid to blatantly poach. And why not? For many of us happily employed passive seekers, there could be something out there that could entice us away.


Courses Related to ‘Job Seeking’

CE147-60: Resumes (1 contact hr)
Traditionally, nurses have not been taught the importance of an effective resume, but with recent mergers, downsizing of facilities, and the impact of new healthcare initiatives, the concise, comprehensive resume has become a critical element in finding a position. This program will update nurses’ expertise in formulating professional resumes and cover letters.

CE691: Social Media
 (1 contact hr)

For many of us, social media is a fun way to stay in touch with friends and family. We share photos and stories with people across town and around the world. But we need to be cautious as we engage in social media. It can affect our careers in ways we never would have imagined. Content taken in the wrong context can damage our professional reputation. This module helps you learn how to use social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Blogs to boost your career. It will also provide tips to avoid social network “career busters” and compare sample sites to help you choose the site that best meets your needs.

WEB329: Empowering Your Nursing Career (1 contact hr)
Do you feel empowered to navigate your career? Are you trying to decide which specialty to pursue, how to begin your professional nursing career, or how to make a change to an existing career? Learn about how you can make your personality characteristics work for you by considering correlated nursing specialties and environments you might enjoy more than others. Learn about leadership and lifestyle choices to create balance and motivation for your nursing calling!

About the author
Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN

Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN 

Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN, is OnCourse Learning's executive vice president and chief clinical executive. He also is founder and CEO of the Forum for Shared Governance ( As an editor for Spectrum, Hess penned editorials on career topics. As a presenter at professional conferences, Hess often addresses participants on how to find the right job and steps for building a successful career. Join his Facebook followers at Robert G Hess Jr.

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