JOB SEARCH / DEC. 07, 2015
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Are You a Job Seeker Or a Job Stalker?

Modern job searches can feel a bit like a game of cat and mouse. It’s rarely as simple as finding an advert somewhere for a job that appeals to you and submitting your application. Many jobs do not ever get formally advertised at all, so having a great network is essential. Getting a referral into a business can be the key to skipping some of the initial screening stages and giving yourself a head-start. And, if you’re really determined, you can take a complete guerrilla approach, and try to persuade a business to create a job that is just right for you.

Whatever the formal “rules of the game”, it can feel like you’re more likely to be successful in snagging your ideal job if you get a little bit stalker.

Finding a job can be a long and frustrating process, and it can be tough to manage job search frustration if you don’t feel like things are moving quickly enough. For many of us, it’s tempting to stop waiting until the perfect role somehow presents itself, and to move a more proactive search. In other words, get out there hunting, and stalk that dream job down.

But at what point do you move from being a job seeker to becoming an out-and-out job stalker? As with all things, there’s a spectrum at play here. If a completely passive approach to finding a new job is futile, the extreme opposite – a no holds barred stop-at-nothing-to-get-what-you-want mindset – is equally unhelpful.

Nobody wants to be a job stalker. Not only will it not help your chances of landing a job, it might also land you on the wrong side of the law. Check out these questions to figure out if you’re on the right side of that line.

See Also: 4 Steps to Creating Your Job Search Plan

1. Do You Know the Company’s Mission Statement Off by Heart?

Every job seeker will have some businesses they would love to join. Maybe it is a product you love to use or a market leader in your segment. So, you have done your research – good news. You know about the companies that you aspire to in terms of their market, their customer base, their history, and their plans. You have an idea of where and how your skills might work well for them.

If you have crossed the line to become a real job stalker, then you will also have a very clear idea of which businesses appeal to you, and why. There’s no waiting around for the right role to land in front of you, it’s all about using your network and persuasion skills to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time. And to do that, you need to know your target businesses inside out.

Your research has gone above and beyond the cursory glance of the corporate website. You have scoured every headline for the last decade to find out who’s who and what the real deal is. Your research includes home addresses and phone numbers. You know the website text off by heart. Hell, you can even recite their mission statements and corporate values if they ask you to. That’s too much.

2. Do You Feel Neglected If You Don’t Hear Back From the Interviewer Right Away?

It’s natural to be anxious after you have had an interview. And following up with a brief thank you note is normal job seeker behavior. But if you take silence personally – and especially if you then message the recruiter repeatedly asking what happened – then perhaps you have crossed the line into job stalker land.

A job seeker will send a polite email thanking the recruiter for their time. Perhaps even ask a question or two to keep the conversation alive and confirm the details of the process from here on in. A job stalker might well do the same – but use scented notepaper. If your thank you note could be mistaken for a love letter, you have gone too far.

3. Are You Connected to Key Influencers on Social Media (And Their Childhood Friends, Extended Family, and Nannies)?

Networking is essential in a modern job search – and being a job stalker has never been easier thanks to the way social media connects us all so seamlessly.

If you’re a genuine job seeker, and you know which businesses you would like to work for in future, then it is never too soon to start cultivating a network. Follow the business and any notable managers on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, and keep on top of the industry news. This way you can share interesting and useful content via your social media channels and make sure your digital footprint shows your best side.

If you can grow any relationships on a more personal, face-to-face level, then all the better. See if you can hook up with interesting people at conferences and industry events. But it is here perhaps that the danger of getting a little bit too stalker comes through the most clearly.

There is a limit. Asking a fellow professional to come for a coffee and tell you more about their career path is good; initiating a game of footsie while they do is not. You’re looking for a new boss, not a new best friend, so keep the communication civil and professional, and you can make sure you hunt down that new job without getting slapped in the face with a restraining order.

4. Do You Think That All Publicity Is Good Publicity?

Slipping into job stalker territory is perhaps easy because it is sometimes extremely effective. When you’re getting results, it can be difficult to argue with the methods – even if it is a little crazy.

Some job stalkers have had spectacular successes with high-risk publicity stunts. Whether or not this puts you over the line from “creative job seeker” to “might be crazy” depends a little on your approach. Whether it is hiring a billboard opposite the offices of the business you want to work for, or sending over an empty coffee cup with a note inviting the recipient out for a drink, sometimes these gambles pay off. But if you’re considering something a little kooky, it might be a good time to get a friend to check out your stalker levels and give you an honest opinion.

See Also: The Best Books For Job Seekers 

So, are you a regular job seeker, or an out-and-out career bunny boiler? In some places, it’s a fine divide, and maybe when you’re trying to get yourself a new job, less is more.

So, if you’re worried that your inner stalker might be taking over your job search, then keep taking a step back and making sure that you’re not crossing the line in your enthusiasm. Tagging a prospective employer on Twitter is fine; standing around outside their house hoping to “bump” into them is not. Politely asking for an informational interview over coffee is going to help your job search; bombarding your target with a dozen red roses sent to the office might not. Use your common sense and stick to the right side of the law. Finding a new job will be tricky if you’re locked up before you really get started.

Are you a job seeker or a job stalker? Let us know in the comments section below!

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