One thing it pays to always remember, if you’re looking for a new job, is that the job market is not a stagnant entity.  Even in the most challenging of economic times, there will always be a certain amount of workforce turnover and always be a fresh crop of new employers appearing on the horizon, if you make a point to keep your eyes out for them.

And with change, and churn, comes opportunity.

In fact, unless you’ve spent some time studying formal economics, you may not immediately realize that the “ideal” or “natural” unemployment rate cited by economists is not actually zero. It is around 4-5% in many countries, such as the US, since without this small degree of churn there would be a boatload of negative implications.  You’ll find an article here with more information on this concept if you’re at all curious.

The point I want to make, however, is that many job hunters really need to shift their current thinking from one of chasing leads to one of creating opportunities — where the emphasis becomes on identifying and contacting potential employers who might need help from somebody with their qualifications, versus ones who have already advertised a position publicly on the open market.  If a job lead has already been posted in a public forum, such as an employment website, it can often be too late.  The opening is going to attract a flurry of resumes and for those folks who don’t have the perfect “made all the right moves” pedigree, it’s going to be hard to survive the screening process.

So if you’re on the hunt for a new assignment, make sure to allocate a certain percentage of your efforts toward researching new and emerging companies in your geographic market — and/or figuring out which ones have received a fresh capital infusion and might suddenly be gearing up for expansion.

Luckily, there are all kinds of ways you can accomplish this if you put your mind to it.  The simplest place to start?  Make sure that in your regular scanning of the local media (as discussed in my post here the other day) you keep your eyes out for special lists/reports highlighting local companies that are on the upswing.

For example, in the Seattle area alone, two great lists have recently been published out that many of you might find to be great prospecting fuel.  They are:

The Geekwire “Top 200” Seattle Startup Company List

Seattle Business Magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For in 2013” List

If you scan these lists, I guarantee you that you’ll come across at least a few organizations — if not dozens or hundreds — that you’ve never heard of before, but conceivably could have some needs brewing that are applicable for your skill sets.

The key question: Are you enterprising and confident enough to identify these organizations and reach out to them, while all of your competitors play it safe?