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  • Writer's pictureRoss Mengel

Reactive and Proactive Approaches to Job Search

Updated: Feb 15

Essentially, there are four ways to find employment. The first two, responding to advertisements and approaching agencies, are reactive in as much as jobseekers largely put their search campaign in the hands of others and often feel frustrated and quite powerless as they await some form of communicated response.

A proactive approach on the other hand is a self-driven process and involves networking and targeted approaches to selected companies and individuals.

Statistically, 85% of job vacancies are filled via networking (Forbes, 2021) but it is nevertheless important to ensure that all your bases are covered in the career progression process. Let's delve a bit deeper into each.

Responding to Advertisements

This involves applying for job openings that are publicly advertised through job boards and portals, company websites, newspapers, etc. Job seekers typically submit their CV's and cover letters in response to specific job postings. While this method is straightforward, it can be competitive as many candidates apply for the same positions. Moreover, it may not always yield immediate results, leading to frustration for some job seekers.

Approaching Agencies

Job seekers may also enlist the help of recruitment agencies or headhunters to find employment opportunities. These agencies match candidates with job openings based on their skills, experience, and preferences. While this can streamline the job search process to some extent, job seekers often relinquish some control over their search and may have limited visibility into available opportunities.

"Success in any endeavour does not happen by accident. Rather, it's the result of deliberate decisions, conscious effort, and immense persistence, all directed at specific goals." – Gary Ryan Blair, "The Goals Guy")


Networking involves reaching out to contacts within one's professional or social circles to seek job leads, advice, and referrals. This can include attending networking events, connecting with professionals on platforms like LinkedIn, and reaching out to former colleagues or mentors. Proactive networking allows job seekers to tap into the hidden job market, where many positions are filled through referrals and personal connections.

Targeted Approaches to Companies and Individuals

Rather than waiting for job openings to be advertised, proactive job seekers identify companies or individuals they are interested in working for and make direct enquiries or applications. This may involve sending speculative applications, reaching out to hiring managers or decision-makers within organisations, or leveraging social media to engage with potential employers. By targeting specific companies or individuals, job seekers can tailor their approach and demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment.

"A Bend in The Road" Outplacement & Career Transition Programmes

While both reactive and proactive approaches have their merits, a proactive approach empowers job seekers to take control of their job search and uncover opportunities that may not be readily visible through traditional channels. By combining elements of both approaches and ensuring comprehensive coverage of the job market, job seekers can maximise their chances of success in finding their desired employment.

For more information on how to optimise the four approaches to job search, or other topics covered in our Outplacement & Career Transition Programmes, click on Outplacement & Career Transition to visit our page, email or call +27 11 888 9009. We would be happy to discuss how we could assist.


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