For those regular readers of my articles, you’ve likely already guessed where this is heading. Of course, the best time to be looking for a job is always.
I don’t mean a full-on job search, but rather keeping yourself “job-change ready” just in case you need (or want) to make a shift. This way, you’re not starting at zero when you begin to look.
You don’t need to put in a lot of effort to keep yourself “job-change ready.” Here are a few tips:
- Listen. Opportunities are all around you – in your current company, at your friends’ companies, and even in the company five floors down from yours. When you tune into what’s happening at the happy hour gathering, talk to people in the elevator, or chat up your colleagues over lunch, you learn a ton about changes that will impact jobs. Stay curious and ask questions – you’ll be surprised at what you discover.
- Update. You likely have annual rituals – deep cleaning the freezer, doing your taxes, donating clothes to charity, etc. Make evaluating and updating your resume (and LinkedIn!) one of them. Review your achievements over the past year and use them to strengthen your brand. Consider what skills gaps you’d like to close in the coming year and seek out projects to gain that experience. People who are constantly on the move and involved get noticed when new opportunities arise.
- Strategize. Those people you know who always seem to land on their feet aren’t lucky. They have a plan for when things change. If you haven’t spent time thinking about companies that you’re interested in, roles you’d enjoy or projects you’d like to work on, now is the time. While no one can predict the future, continuously generating ideas, taking actions towards them, and keeping informed will ensure that you always have options available. Then, unexpected twists become opportunities versus setbacks.
Job security only exists within you, not outside of you with an organization. Companies merge, policies shift, CEOs get replaced, departments downsize, and product growth bottoms out. Any of which can leave even the best performers on the unemployment line. This isn’t meant to instill a constant state of anxiety about work, but rather a reminder that employment in the US can be volatile, and your best defense is to always be job-change ready.