The importance of being proactive
Another meaning of 'proactive' which has direct relevance to job seekers means taking the initiative, like in aggressive job hunting, and not passively waiting for a job to be advertised. This is a form of being proactive that has a lot of use, and often opens up new ground for exploration. In many cases, proactive behavior creates new situations, where passive or reactive actions couldn't.
Proactive methods as a measure of results
Proactive methods also act as their own monitors. This is where the 'active' element kicks in with a vengeance. Proactive methods get results that tell you if you're achieving, or not achieving, your goals. They're both a monitor of progress and a score card, and also working indicators of what's being achieved, what's working and what isn't.
Here's a quick review of the difference between passive and proactive methods of job hunting:
Passive methods are a lot slower in getting results, and almost useless in defining them. The most you can find out by simply putting in a job application and getting no response is that it didn't work. That could take a month. Being proactive by following up and asking will tell you what happened, why you didn't get an interview, and provide a lot of useful information on how to prevent a repeat performance.
As working methods go, proactive methods have another important characteristic: they're reliable because they're based on the results you want to achieve. You can create meaningful measures of what you're doing, so you can judge success or failure and make decisions based on your own criteria.
Success and failure criteria are actually scientific standards for measuring results. They're used to define the effectiveness of methods. Being proactive, this is the natural state of the information you receive through your methods. The proactive approach is more than important. It's essential.