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When seeking a new job or trying to enter a new career field, you can go for two different approaches: react or be proactive. Check both of the options and choose yours.



Reactive approach


I am using the term reactive to describe the approach based on reacting to vacancies that someone else designs, opens and offers. A typical example would be applying for vacancies you find in job ads.

While this approach can theoretically be faster than the proactive one, it relies on having quite a lot of good luck.


Good luck:

  • ... that an employer puts together a combination of tasks you can do well and even enjoy;
  • ... that the employer´s timing matches yours;
  • ... that they are the convenient type of employer;
  • ... that neither the employer nor anybody around them can think of a suitable candidate, so they need to seek among people they do not know;
  • ... that they publish an ad because they want to reach people like you, and not just because they are obliged to publish ads even when they have chosen candidates beforehand;
  • ... that you come across that ad;
  • ... that you convince the employer that, by chance, the position is exactly what you are very good at and would love to do;
  • ... that you sound more convincing about it than the other dozens or hundreds of applicants;
  • ... and then lots of good luck that you will like the job although you maybe knew no more than what they had published or told you about it, until you started working there.


You might have all that good luck and quickly end up with an interesting job.  Or not so quickly, or not that interesting, but still a job.  But sometimes you might be trying for a long time without any success and feel you are exactly where you were some months ago, just with less hope and fewer ideas.

So the question is: do you really want to rely fully on something as fragile as good luck?


Proactive approach


Taking a proactive approach means you do not leave things to pure chance and you work on them systematically, one small step at a time.

Doing it proactively means becoming an entrepreneur with your own working life. You have something to offer (knowledge, skills, experience) and there is someone who needs exactly that. So why wait for them to find you, if you can go and be active yourself?


To significantly raise your chance of getting a good job, you can:

  • identify the best and favourite of your vocational and transferrable competences;
  • identify your top needs and preferences;
  • consider alternative careers highly suitable for you;
  • gain published and  non-published information about the relevant job market;
  • set up an optimal job target: not too narrow, not too wide;
  • design your personal strategy for getting such a job (and what you will do until then);
  • keep developing your competences;
  • build your professional visibility and credibility;
  • identify who needs such competences: what the most interesting employment or business opportunities are for you;
  • prepare your offer and self-presentation tools;
  • convince a couple of well-chosen employers to hire you (or give you their best reference that helps you get hired); or start your own business.


The point is to try to influence the creation of a vacancy before it even gets published. This is your chance to bring the job closer to your needs, and it makes you highly competitive and convincing – you are applying for a job you know you can be great at and you would love, and that shows!

All the points starting with “good luck” when talking about the reactive approach – will be the ones you will try to influence actively. Instead of being afraid that all employers might already know someone suitable for their vacancies before they offer them to public, you will work on becoming the one that the interesting employers know about.  Until you get THE job.

But, to succeed, you will need to be well prepared, highly informed, know what you want, know what you offer, and convince the employers.

If you want to complete all the steps, it can take several months or more, depending on how intensively you can work on it and what you have already done. There is always a chance that you will get an interesting offer before you complete all the systematic steps but, in any case, you will get there (maybe) slowly but surely.

The best part about the proactive approach is that, with every individual step, you will have already progressed. You will have improved something in your career (and in your life). The process can be very enjoyable, much more enjoyable than checking ads and sending hundreds of applications. All that work will be done around topics, skills and career ideas you feel a passion for. If any small step does not work out, you are not back at the beginning, you just try the one small step differently or again. On that journey you will learn so much about yourself: what you need and want, as well as about the labour market, self-marketing and creative career solutions, things that you can call on for the rest of your life.


Combination of the two


The third option is to consider a combination of the two approaches – either equally or giving priority to one of them. For example, if you are unemployed and devoting some hours of every weekday to seeking a job, you can decide to devote some days to the proactive tasks and other days to checking ads and sending applications. You can decide which approach you trust more and give it more of your time. If you are employed but wanting a change, you can for example remain open to jobs you hear about, but devote any active work to the systematic approach.


If you wish me to help you through the process of finding a job or entering a new career field, you can send me an e-mail and we can talk about your situation and potential coaching cooperation.

We can start from the beginning, or review what you have tried up to now and design a strategy for the next steps.


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