The Recruiting and Talent Aquisition Industry has its own unique "language", our vernacular is a jumble of idioms, acronyms, abbreviations, hashtags, and secret codes (well not really). It is no secret, however, that the myriad of Recruiting Firms, Headhunters, Corporate HR, and the multitude of Experts, have sorted the entire spectrum of the workforce, the Talent Tree, if you will, into one of two baskets, the low-hanging ripe fruit of the "Active Candidate" or the not quite ripe so-called "Passive Candidate". 

As an "Active Candidate" you are just that; actively seeking a change, whether employed or not. As a not quite ripe "Passive Candidate" you might be open to the right opportunity but are not actively seeking change. The Talent Tree is never fully picked clean, however. What of the buds not yet developed, or flowers unpollinated? 

Your New Basket: The Pro-Active Candidate

Perhaps, like the majority of the workforce, you can't be placed in either basket. You are unsorted. You describe yourself as happy, satisfied, or content with your career, or perhaps you are simply 'not unhappy' and never contemplate making a job change. Why would you? You love, or maybe at least tolerate, what you do. Your job is secure. Why step into the unknown? For others who are unsorted your job is just that- a job. It is easy to navigate, and you are in cruise mode; work, go home, wash, rinse repeat. The reality is that while you might not be considering a change but a change may be considering you. This is why you need to place yourself into your own basket, that of the Pro-Active Candidate. The Pro-Active Candidate is always looking forward and is always prepared for whatever career changes life throws your way.

Pro-Active Candidate Essentials

These essentials are no-brainers but are easy to ignore when not contemplating a change. They are also noticeably missing when change comes knocking. 

  1. Keep An Updated Resume. It is pretty much a given, as all the experts and gurus will tell you, that everyone should have an updated resume. Think of a resume as a "living" document that should be updated on a regular basis, but it also needs to be dynamic to address whatever opportunity might come your way. Make a habit of updating your resume quarterly to capture any specific accomplishments or achievements.
  2. Review Your Social Media Footprint. I wrote about this before, but it is essential in the current internet age that you have a consistent, and professional online image. Make no mistake, you will be Googled, Binged, Facebooked, and LinkedIn'ed (I can make up words, it's my article). Take the time to search yourself online, and to ensure your social media footprint is free from anything embarrassing and that your professional presence is consistent with your resume. Fix those tidbits or inconsistencies that might be a red flag that hinders your chances. A great time to do this is now, and make it a habit, because what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas.
  3. Expand Your Professional Network. Aside from online social networks, such as LinkedIn, join or participate in other industry professional practice groups and associations. Attend events, schmooze, make real connections. You don't need to overextend yourself, but networking connections are likely to help you get on your feet quicker after an unexpected job change.

A Pro-Active Candidate Strategy: Mind Mapping

Once upon a time I was forced into a change when my position was eliminated. I set out to find a path for my next career move, and being a right-brain type of guy I pulled out a sketchpad, and began to brainstorm. I didn't know it at the time, but I was mind-mapping. 

A mind-map is a powerful tool that will allow you to create order out of chaos, or chaos out of order, depending on how your brain works. The mind-map can serve as non-directional problem-solving exercise, like a roadmap without a destination. Or vice versa. This tool can be used to hash out and connect seemingly disconnected ideas, thoughts, goals, likes, dislikes, and inspirations. This stream is graphically drawn out and you can use paper or try an online approach (a myriad of mind mapping websites are out there, is a great choice). As a Pro-Active Candidate use mind-mapping now, not later, as a tool for uncovering what you really desire in your career or as a means to prepare for the unexpected. 

The bottom line is to consider yourself a Pro-Active candidate. If you find yourself in one of the other baskets, hop out and take a good look around. Prepare for what might be; have your tools ready, create a blueprint for the "what if's", and map a path because change might come knocking.


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