IT’S one of life’s great ironies that career opportunities tend to arise when we’re not seeking them.

Today’s professionals are increasingly finding themselves in this scenario, as recruiters faced with the ongoing shortage of skilled candidates are pushed to take a proactive approach, hunting for potential recruits through social media and their own networks.

But that’s not to say that if you are open to making your next career move, you need to passively sit by and cross your fingers that a recruiter will notice you. Beyond applying for advertised roles, there are various strategies to make yourself visible and appealing to recruiters before new job opportunities go out to the mass market. Take a systematic approach and you’ll ensure that when the right one does arise, you’re the first on their list.

Start by being a ‘yes’ person and looking for way to involve yourself in your industry beyond your day-to-day role. This might involve speaking at events or conferences, writing articles and informative social media posts and offering to chair group meetings. The more interest and passion you display, the more people will take notice and gravitate towards you.

Keeping up-to-date with industry news and developments is also crucial. Not only will it make you better at your current job, it will also help you cultivate stronger business relationships. Building these relationships involves far more than sending out generic LinkedIn invitations to connect. The most successful networkers invest in their professional relationships consistently and over the long term, so use your LinkedIn profile and other social media channels to present yourself as a thought-leader in your field. Post newsworthy articles and information that reflect your professional expertise and interests. Also ensure that your online CV is up-to-date, highlighting tangible, recent examples of your accomplishments.

Julie Graham, founding director of Tandem Partners HR recruitment firm, confirms that an active social media profile is one of the key factors that attract head-hunters to a potential candidate. According to Julie, a positive online presence is up there with good tenure in blue-chip organisations, impressive qualifications and evidence of ongoing professional development.

‘’Your social media profile is highly important as clients like to see how candidates present themselves through all media channels,” she says. “As technology continues to evolve and becomes more sophisticated, this will continue to be of high importance.”

Equally crucial to a good LinkedIn profile is avoiding potentially negative hits when your name is searched. That rant on a public forum or questionable photograph may stick around to haunt you, so be aware of the digital tattoo you could be creating with any online activity.

Reaching out to recruiters and building rapport with those who specialise in your industry is also valuable. “Put yourself out there and let recruiters know that you are actively in the market,” Julie advises. She also encourages a bold approach if you’re aspiring for a role that doesn’t precisely fit your skill-set. “While technical background is very important when sourcing candidates for our clients, personal attributes and ‘fit’ are just as important,” she says.

Once you’ve done the groundwork, be prepared to receive a recruiter’s call at any time. If you’re not good at being put on the spot, arrange a time to call them back, and avoid sounding indifferent, even if you’re unsure about the role they’re proposing. Take a few notes, and give yourself a chance to research the industry (if it’s an unfamiliar one), the company and career progression opportunities within it, before you speak again.

Don’t write-off an unexpected job prospect just because it isn’t one you had considered before being contacted by a recruiter, but at the same time, don’t feel pushed to pursue something that isn’t congruent with your goals, just because you feel flattered to have been head-hunted.

Like everything you do in your career, the way you respond to a recruiter forms part of your reputation and personal brand. Even if the role they propose isn’t right, present yourself in the best possible light when turning it down, and your next great offer may just be another phone call away.