How to Get a Job: Take the Initiative

When looking for a new job, it is essential to take the initiative and find out as much information about possible opportunities. It’s not enough to just go through resumes on Glassdoor; you need to do more research in order to land your dream career.

good examples of showing initiative” are things that show you are ready for a new job. They can be anything from volunteering for a company, to taking on a new project, or even just being friendly with the people around you.

Vintage man walking through the stairs and holding briefcase.

Nearly 2 million students graduated from colleges and institutions around the nation this month with a bachelor’s degree. Some will go graduate school, while others will join the job market, many in the hopes of landing their first “real” job. Simultaneously, 3 million high school grads have begun their search for a summer job–possibly their first job ever. Millions of Americans who have been laid off, are jobless, and have been searching for work for weeks, months, or even years are joining them in the job search.

All of these people have one thing in common: they’re looking for work in a difficult economy. While experts argue whether things are improving or whether we are on the verge of a worsening situation, the truth for job searchers is that competition is fierce. The plum positions will go to the intelligent, the well-connected, and those who know how to network, and most importantly…those who know how to hustle.

Too many guys see job hunting as a passive activity. They spend each day at home, scouring and other job sites for openings, uploading their applications, and then waiting for a call seeking an interview. And then there’s the waiting. And then there’s the waiting.

It’s improbable that the job you seek will come your way this way. Instead, the job will go to the guy who goes out and gets it–the one who takes charge. Here are some pointers on how to seize the bull by the horns during job hunting.

Note: Obviously, starting your own business is one of the finest methods to take charge of your job search. The emphasis of this post, however, will be on finding work with someone else.

Submit your resume in person if possible.

Vintage man holding resume and wearing hat illustration.

The most certain way to stay jobless is to do what the person above did: post your résumé online and then sit on your hands waiting for a call. Human resources departments are like employment Bermuda Triangles: your CV is forwarded to who knows where, to be reviewed by who knows who, if at all. What will set your resume apart from the hundreds of others on the stack, even if it is read?

Instead, print out your resume/cover letter/application and deliver it in person to whomever is in charge of recruiting for the position you desire (the hiring manager, your prospective supervisor, the head of the department, etc.). Finding out who is in charge of recruiting at huge, faceless organizations might be tough, but it can frequently be done by checking online and making a few phone calls.

This is how I’ve obtained the majority of my jobs throughout my life. In each case, the individual was impressed by my initiative, conducted an on-the-spot interview, and, in some instances, gave me the job on the spot.

Obviously, handing in your CV in person is more successful for lower-level positions than for higher-level employment, but it may be useful in a number of scenarios. Ben D., an AoM Community member, wrote a great little essay on the Community blog a while ago about how he used this strategy to secure a job as a respiratory therapist:


“When my wife and I first arrived to Chicago, we didn’t know anybody. There were no employment, no family, and very little money. The expectation was that I would be able to find work quickly. I updated my résumé before we relocated, applied for a number of positions online, and then sat back and waited.

I still didn’t have a job once the relocation was completed and we had moved in. I had a few leads, but they were all at organizations that are considered resume smudges in my field. Still, a bad job is better than no work, so I bit the bullet and contacted the recruiting manager at the Resume Stain.

I’d had enough after only one shift. The individuals were kind, but the work and the business were terrible. I started making preparations for my escape. I applied for a few more jobs online and then sat back and waited. Isn’t that how you apply for a job?

Wrong. I was listening to public radio when a story about job seekers filling out online applications, posting their resumes on Monster, and then waiting for a job to come knocking came on. As I listened to this, it occurred to me how ridiculous and unmanly it was. You’re simply another faceless resume in a sea of thousands until you can defecate golden eggs. I made the decision to earn my career the masculine way: via hard effort, initiative, and perseverance.

I printed my résumé and signed it in pen after customizing a cover letter for the employer I was applying to. I stuffed these materials into an envelope addressed to the recruiting manager, suited myself in my best suit and tie, and drove down to the firm.

It occurred to me that what I was going to do–cold-call a recruiting manager–was potentially dangerous. He might be out of the office or in a nasty temper. A variety of unpleasant things might occur. But I was desperate for this position, and I had nothing to lose.

I swallowed my anxieties, fixed my tie, smiled confidently, and walked through the doors. I found the manager’s office after a little sniffing about. I knocked, presented myself with a huge grin and a handshake, and he had my CV and cover letter in his hands before I knew it. I stated my case. “I didn’t want to be just another face in the throng, so I decided to take the initiative and pay a visit.” He sat me down for an interview, and I left an hour later with a promise that he’d contact me.

I received a phone call and a job offer a few days later. Soon, I’ll be working for a firm that I like and that has a solid reputation. I got the job I really wanted, not simply one I found on the internet at random. I got a nice position at a decent business, and I got to make a good first impression, all by avoiding the trappings of the online job search in favor of the old-fashioned macho manner of finding work. “Another win for manliness!” exclaims the narrator.


Ben, this is another another win for manliness. The fruits of war belong to the victor.

Keep in touch!

Your work isn’t done until you submit your résumé online or give it over in person. Now it’s up to you to follow up! Hiring managers, like department heads and supervisors, have a lot on their plates, and hiring is just a tiny fraction of what they do. So, to demonstrate your genuine interest in the position, send an email or make a phone call.

If the application window for a job has a deadline, follow up a few days after the deadline has passed–following up before then would make you seem eager. “Because the deadline for x position ended on June 11, I expect that applications have started to be considered,” you might remark when you follow up. I only wanted to demonstrate my genuine enthusiasm for the opportunity. “I’d be a wonderful match for the position because of [a handful of essential attributes].” If you can learn anything about the company’s culture or the kind of individuals the hiring manager like to recruit, bring it up in your interview.

If the job announcement didn’t specify a deadline, then follow up within a week to ten days after submitting your application. Then phone the recruiting manager and say something along the lines of, “My name is Bob Smith, and I submitted my resume for X job on June 11th, and I’m wondering whether the post has been filled yet.” No? Well, [assert interest in the job Plus a few qualifications that make you a good fit for it].

If you’ve done an interview with the company but haven’t heard back within the time frame they gave you (and make sure to ask for a timeline at the end of the interview if they don’t tell you), then call or email the day after the original time frame expires, reaffirming your interest in the job, politely stating that you understand the hiring process can take some time, and asking if they could give you an updated timeline on when they will hire you.

Wait a week and a half after your interview if the employer didn’t provide you with a deadline to begin with.

Keep it to two tries when following up on a filed application or an interview. If you don’t hear back after the initial follow-up, send another email after a week. Is there still no response? Now is the time to move on.

“Apply” for jobs that aren’t listed and jobs that don’t exist yet.

Many of the finest jobs will never be advertised in the classifieds. Instead of hiring friends, internal workers, or people they’ve worked with or heard about in other capacities, the corporation employs friends, internal employees, or people they’ve worked with or heard about in other capacities. So you won’t be able to acquire these jobs by waiting for a job ad to appear. You must instead take the initiative!


Send an email with your CV to the person you believe will be in charge of recruiting for that job if there is a location you want to work and a position you want to acquire. Tell them you’d want to be considered for the job if it becomes available, and why you’re qualified for it.

Even if a position or job you desire doesn’t exist yet, or if you’re a freelancer looking for a new customer who doesn’t even realize he needs your services yet, you should put yourself out there. Get a sense of what the firm does now and where they may need assistance or grow, then approach them and offer your services, giving them a concrete concept of what you could do for them. Tell them you’re a big fan of what they do (hopefully this is true) and that you’d be willing to do a project for them for free or at a discount to give back; trying something new is a risky proposition for the potential client, so if it won’t cost them much, they’ll be much more willing to give it a shot. They may not be able to utilize you right now, but they may need your services in the future, and when they do, they’ll think of you first.

Let me offer you some instances from my time as the director of the Art of Manliness. Ted Slampyak contacted me in 2009, expressing his admiration for AoM and offering to participate in our SWYMJ series. After three years (three years! ), the site was finally profitable enough for me to accomplish something I’d wanted to do from the beginning of AoM: pay an artist to make drawings for certain of our pieces. “Hey, how about the guy who did the SYWMJ interview?” Kate suggested while we were thinking about how to locate someone who could draw graphics with an AoM vibe. He’s got a lot of fantastic things going on.” As a result, Ted has become our go-to illustrator for all of our illustration requirements.

The second example is this:

I completed all of the design work myself when I first began AoM in January 2008. I performed good for a law student with no online or graphic design skills, but I thought the site could be a lot better if a professional worked on it. Eric Granata is now on the scene. Eric has been a long-time reader of AoM and was a frequent contributor to the original iteration of the AoM forums. Eric contacted me through email in early 2008, describing himself as a fellow Oklahoman, AoM enthusiast, and site designer. He offered to help us with any graphic or web design requirements we may have. I needed a little job completed, and Eric offered to do it for free as a thank you for the material on AoM.

We were so satisfied with Eric’s work that we continued returning to him for more projects, this time as paying customers. Eric was recruited in 2009 to completely rebuild AoM. Eric created the webpage you’re looking at right now. Eric has turned us into a regular paying customer, and it all began with him taking the initiative and donating his services.


I could continue with other instances, but I believe you get the picture. Begin by volunteering your services to others and sowing as many seeds as possible. They may not sprout right away, but they might yield fruit in the future.

And, although it should go without saying, even if you perform that first item for a prospective customer for free or at a reduced rate, do it well! It’s essentially your employment interview. When you show the customer what you can accomplish, he’ll wonder how he survived without you and gladly begin sending you more fully compensated work. If you just perform half-assed work, your window of opportunity will shut.

Take the first step!

So, why do these strategies of taking initiative work so well? Companies, believe it or not, have just as much difficulty hiring excellent people as good people have getting good employment. Put yourself in the position of the hiring manager: they’ve got piles of applications to wade through, and it’s difficult to tell who’s worth bringing in for an interview just on paper. Making that choice requires a lot of effort. By demonstrating initiative, you assist them in doing some of the work for them, since it demonstrates your moxie and ambition, as well as your genuine interest in the position: attributes that make up a large part of what they’re looking for in an employee.

Now, just because you’ve taken the initiative in your job hunt doesn’t imply you’ll get your ideal job the next day. However, it is certain to get you employed sooner than waiting for your next job to fall into your lap.

What has been your experience with taking charge of your job search? Let us know what you think in the comments!



“What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work?” is a question that many people ask themselves when they are looking for a job. The answer to this question is important because it will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses, as well as what type of job would suit you best. Reference: what have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you become an initiative taker?

A: In order to become an initiative taker, you must be a member of the Elite Beat Agents and have approved your application. Your first task as an Initiative Taker is to beat The Storm on Expert difficulty mode. It is recommended that you complete this before taking on any other quests or challenges in the game.

How do you take initiative at a new job?

A: If the company is flexible with their hiring process, then youll be able to take initiative by reaching out and making your case for why you should be hired in a meeting.

What does it mean to take initiative on the job?

A: It is when you come up with your own ideas to improve the work environment and do not wait for someone else to tell you what needs improvement.

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