Executive Careers Blog

Play Offense In Your Job Search


As most of us have football playoffs on the brain, it’s helpful to look at the lessons that translate from the sports field to the job search field.

The idea that offense wins the game is particularly relevant in this job market where anxiety and uncertainty about the market abound.

It’s easy not to fault jobseekers for playing it safe. I have even advised jobseekers to remember that Bold Job Search Moves Are Not Required. But while I don’t suggest every job search tactic be the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, the reality is that defense just keeps you in the search, but offense gets you the job

Reviewing your resume over and over again for typos is defense. Positioning your resume with the language and detail that gets you the job you want is offense. Positioning is proactive. You are targeting specific opportunities and putting yourself out there to attract these.

Rekindling old contacts and reconnecting with friends is defense. You are maintaining your network, and while that’s good, it’s incomplete. Seeking out those people who are specific decision-makers in your areas of interest and developing a relationship with them is offense. You are proactively (there’s that word again!) making opportunities for yourself, rather than relying on whomever you happen to know or come across.

Scouring the job boards and filling out applications is defense. You are covering your bases, but you are reacting to someone else’s (the employers’) moves. Identifying specific companies that you want to serve, researching their pain points, and positioning yourself as the solution is offense. You are not waiting for something to open up. You make something open up. You make the employer realize that they have a need, and you fill that need, and you proactively (more proactive behavior!) make the match.

Playing offense does not mean being risky or reckless.

It just means being thoughtful and brave enough to do those activities that will make things happen for you, rather than let things happen to you.

If the dream job is the goal, where are you on your field? What are you going to do to score? You can’t just block your competitors. You yourself must enter the end zone, cross that finish line, or make that play.

It’s always your move. Get on the offensive in your job search.

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Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career coach, writer, speaker, Gen Y expert and co-founder of SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others. Caroline is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs and posts at CNBC Executive Careers and Vault.com.

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