“Don’t fight in the North or the South. Fight every battle everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.”
The above is a quote from Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger), in season 7 of HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones TV series. Although perhaps on the surface not entirely relevant to one’s profession or job search and, while not all watch the George R.R. Martin inspired series, Littlefinger’s quote provides unique insight into the passive candidate and his/her plight to invest in their current company/role while remaining entirely prepared for the unexpected.
Say, for example, you wake up looking forward to work each morning. Your team is filled with colleagues you admire and trust, respect and appreciate. Beyond that, your direct superior and executive leadership encourage and invest in your desire to innovate and share new ideas. In short, you love what you do! Who could dream of leaving such a wonderful situation?
Moreover, the global unemployment rate has fallen below 6 percent, nearly 0.75 percent lower than at the turn of the century. With this research in hand, and if you’re in a situation similar to the above, you likely feel incredible job security and confidence in your tenure. As you should! And yet, we need to heed Littlefinger’s advice, as change can come at moment’s notice – both personal and professional. We can’t always avoid surprises, but we can prepare for them!
4 Game of Thrones-Infused Tips for the Passive Job Seeker
1. “Fight Every Battle Everywhere, Always” Establish Your Digital Presence As of early 2017, Facebook has nearly 1.9 billion active users, LinkedIn has 467 million users (including 3+ million active job listings) and Twitter has approximately 317 million active users. Beyond that, Instagram “dominates” when it comes to interactions per 1,000 followers (between 50-70), including 600 million active users overall. What this means, social media is the third most leveraged source for quality hires, just below employee referrals (which often happen via social media) and job boards (of which social media platforms technically are). Many companies are not only recruiting via social media; they’re developing their brand strategies and talent communities through social media. Find companies that interest you, find their niche, and “fight every battle, everywhere” by interacting!
LinkedIn is the perfect platform for personal branding and to market yourself as a “top” talent. You’re likely already on LinkedIn, but reassess your profile to ensure you’re marketing yourself the right way (find WilsonCTS’ top-10 LinkedIn tips here). Stay in the periphery of potential employers and opportunities by sharing your online portfolio, listing your contact information, building a network of industry peers, posting valuable content, commenting on others’ posts, starting conversations, highlighting your volunteer experience and, heck, even wishing someone a happy birthday. Personalize your profile: add a current photo, list your skills, and come up with a unique headline/summary – i.e., stay away from clichés!
2. “Everyone is Your Enemy, Everyone is Your Friend” Write Recommendations Giving to get is often cautioned. You don’t give gifts to receive them in return; you give out of the joy and goodness in your heart. However, when it comes to building your brand and marketability, credibility is vital. Credibility comes through your work, yes, but also through your colleagues, peers and professional contacts.
Specific to your career, giving to get is a great strategy. Write LinkedIn recommendations for your most valued connections. Offer to serve as references, compliment others’ work both at your current job and within your talent networks. In return, you'll often receive a recommendation or offer of the same in return. Quid pro quo, as they say. Recommendations show that you’re valued, while giving recommendations show that you value the work of others. With Littlefinger’s advice in mind, grow your current “friendships” and make friends out of new, lost or forgotten connections.
3. “Every Possible Series of Events is Happening All at Once” Stay Interview Ready While it’s certainly important to be authentic and genuine with recruiters regarding your intentions (e.g., “I’m flattered by your interest, but I’m quite happy in my current role and can’t see myself leaving”), but consider giving interviews a shot regardless! First, recruiters and hiring managers often appreciate the candor; you’re not wasting your time and they’re not wasting yours.
Moreover, even if you express desire to stay with your current company, oftentimes they’ll seek to interview you regardless. Your honesty and resistance to leave shows them qualities they want in a candidate, including loyalty and rationale. Worst case scenario, they work harder to draw you in! Interviews, whether via phone, video conference or in person offer the opportunity to hone your skills, build new contacts and further gauge where you’re at in your career and where you one day might want to be. Toward this end, although time off is essential to resetting and energizing, it’s not a bad idea to keep a small amount of PTO on reserve should the opportunity (or desire) to interview arise.
4. “Everything That Happens Will Be Something That You’ve Seen Before” Keep your Resume Current (Beyond Job-Related Reasons) There are a wealth of reasons to keep your resume current! First, you may be asked to or seek to speak at a conference, desire to contribute written work to a publication, or provide thought leadership quotes to various mediums as an expert in your field – these are all ways to improve your standing both personally and professionally without leaving your current role/company.
Specifically, when you pitch and promote yourself, you will need to do so accurately and paint yourself as worthy of the outlet’s time and consideration. By keeping your resume and LinkedIn profile updated (and in-line with the aforementioned best practices), you can send off your credentials at moment’s notice – not to mention the timeliness shows that you’re punctual, prepared and on top of things. In addition, you never know when a colleague or peer may wish to nominate you for an award or honor, when you may wish to look for side work, when a promotion opportunity might arise or, the dreaded worst case scenario, when the company might seek to go in a different direction. By keeping your resume fresh, you can be prepared for all outcome, all possibilities; nothing will be something you haven’t seen before. We all desire to find our “Purple Squirrel company”; a place to call home where the Glassdoor reviews ring true, leadership is transparent and invested in our well-being, where compensation and growth aligns with our career goals. If you’re a passive candidate, you may have already landed your white whales. Regardless of your “passive” nature, you can fight in the North and the South by building your personal brand into something that benefits your career now, and for the long term – into something Littlefinger would deem worthy of his applause.
Richard supports WilsonHCG's marketing team as global communications specialist, focusing on content strategy, public relations and telling both client and WilsonHCG stories. Richard finds true joy and passion developing real, genuine relationships and connecting people across the talent landscape through inclusive and engaging content. He's an ardent coffee drinker, book-aholic and adores his English lab Maggie.