It’s probably not news to many people that there are not many “lifetime” jobs available anymore these days.
My dad worked at the same company for 35 years before he retired in 1993. At the time, it wasn’t that unusual to hear similar stories as his. In the last 20 to 25 years though, even the companies considered the most stable and secure have had massive lay-offs at one point or another.
The median job tenure of American workers was 5.1 years in 2008. When you consider people that still have been in positions 20 years or more, the average drops dramatically for the rest of us. And, considering the economic turmoil the last couple of years, it has certainly cut the tenure shorter for millions more.
So… unless you’re currently 60 years old, it’s highly likely you will have to look for a new position again! What can you do now to be better prepared the next time the ‘opportunity’ to transition into a new job comes up again?
Here are some ideas that may help:
Professional networking should be a way of life! Most people never think much about networking until they need it. Networking, however, can have far more benefits than finding a new job. LinkedIn, for example, was not developed to be a job search tool (although it is a great one). Its primary function is to provide an arena where professionals can connect with other professionals to get help, ideas, advice, and make connections in their fields in order to do their jobs better, gain new business, or solve problems. Your network will be a much more effective tool for you if you engage and build relationships with people, offering your help when they need it, rather than just pumping them for information when you need a job. Continue to expand and deepen your network when you don’t need it, in order to be able to tap into it when you do. Set up automated prompts on your calendar to touch base (email or phone call) with each person in your network periodically. Some may only be once per year, others may be a couple times per month. Use good judgment and make it a lifestyle.
Always be updating your skills. A job search becomes much more difficult when your skills in your field are outdated. Continuing to get training and seeking opportunities in your job to use new skills throughout your entire career will make you much more of an attractive candidate when the time comes to look again.
Keep records of your responsibilities, kudos, and achievements. Trying to remember all the stories of accomplishments you’ve had for an interview or for your resume can be tough if you haven’t written them down along the way. I know people that keep a file folder in their desk where they drop in notes, employee reviews, project details and other noteworthy events any time something occurs. It’s a great resource to go to when you need to write a new resume or prepare for new job interviews. Whatever system may work for you… use it to keep good records and have the resource available when you need it!
Keep track of current events in your field and industry. Awareness of what’s, and who’s, hot and not in your field and industry can be a great asset in your career and potential future job search. What companies, or individuals, seem to be the most successful at any given time? What are they doing differently? What can you learn and apply in your own company or job? What companies are growing… and thus good prospects to pursue for new positions if you need one? The answers can help you be more successful in your current job, and create a ready list of target companies and contacts should you decide to look.
Keep recruiter relationships warm. Sometimes it seems as if you hear from recruiters all the time when you’re not looking for a job, and can’t seem to get a return call from them when you are. Typically, people ignore, or worse, blow-off recruiters when they don’t need them, thinking of them as an annoyance. Is it any wonder then, that they aren’t motivated to help when you do want to find a new job? Build relationships with a few recruiters in your field that you like and trust. Make them aware of you, and offer to help them with referrals any time. They will tap you occasionally for help and look for ways they can be of help to you as well. My best relationships are with people I’ve placed 2, 3, or 4 times in their careers over the years. They’ve been my clients, using me to find people when they are in hiring roles, and are great resources for referrals when I need help in finding candidates for other positions. They become candidates again when they call me saying they would like to find something new. Because of the relationship we’ve built, I go well out of my way to help them find new opportunities… sometimes even giving them leads or contact information for positions I know of but don’t have an opportunity to place. Recruiters can best be a tremendous resource when you build solid long-term relationships.
Nurture your career! One of the best things you can do to make yourself more employable is to be successful where you are. Do the things necessary to be productive, achieve results, and gain recognition in the role you’re currently in. It will make you more secure in your current position and a more attractive candidate for a new role!
In today’s workplace, you are likely to need to look for a new position again sooner or later. Don’t ignore what you’ll need for your future job search while you’re currently employed!