Career Corner: Take a proactive approach to getting a job

In his book, Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win, Bradford D. Smart writes, “proactively seeking out and employing the most talented people can have a multiple effect on the creation of other competitive advantages.”


Many hiring managers have taken a proactive approach in the selection and hiring process. They have learned to be skillful interviewers in an effort to hire the best persons and to reduce the numbers of mis-hires. Smart cites “mis-hire means mis-selection from outside, mis-promotion, and mis-placement. And mis-placement becomes displacements, requiring replacements.”

In today’s competitive job market, individuals who hope to land a job must be willing to adopt strategies that will enhance their candidacy to targeted employers and abandon the ones that do not. It is more typical for individuals to use a reactive approach rather than a proactive approach. Reactive approach to job search often result in poor fit, job dissatisfaction and missed opportunities.

A proactive approach to job search focuses on your strengths, the type of work you interested in having within a specific industry or employer.

How would you describe your approach to job search? Do you have a tendency to use a reactive approach?

If you have been unable to land a job offer, it might be time for you to change your approach, too. As a career coach, I encourage individuals to act like an employer and think like a hiring manager when it comes to landing a job.

Hiring managers want you to convince them to hire you. Spend time reviewing and answering some of questions that a hiring manager would want to know such as what skills would you want the person to have. What do you know about the company? Why do you want to work here? Why should we hire you?

Make it your priority to learn as much as you can about your targeted employers such as the management philosophy and style, the history of the company, the key players and their positions and the location of the business. Most of this information can be found on company web sites, someone who works the company and through observation when you land an interview.

Review job posting and job descriptions to identify and develop a list of job-specific competencies. Refer to your list of competencies to assess your current competency/skill level. Make sure your knowledge and experience match the job requirement for which you are applying for.

Create a professional, polished online portfolio to show evidence of your accomplishments, skills, and abilities and to communicate the diversity and quality of your experience and training.

Choose your references wisely and always check with them prior to giving their names. The best references are individuals who respect you and are willing to provide professional and/or character references.

Put together a detailed description of your work history for the past ten years that include the employer, starting date and final date, title, starting and ending salary, supervisor’s name and title and be ready to respond to any questions relating to your work history.


Debbie Walker is a licensed professional counselor and certified job and career transition coach. She can be reached at (706) 550-5008.



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