Stay One Step Ahead!

By Joe Stein

I received an unfortunate phone call recently, from an old friend and colleague. The news was a situation I hear way too often. This person, after 15+ years with a company, finds himself in his mid-50s looking for a new job after a long time being out of the job market. In his mind, he was comfortable in his current position and, although there had been many warning signs of a company restructure, he did not start a job search. In his mind although changes were expected, he did not think he would be impacted. Unfortunately, this is an error that numerous employees make every day.
 
The reality of today’s work world is that changes are made all the time, and often when a person least expects it. This is why I advocate that a person should always be in “job search mode” to some degree. This is especially true when your current employer is having any financial concerns, or are reviewing work processes or structure. In my mind, it is merely protecting yourself from a situation where you are frantically looking for a new job while unemployed.
 
For many, the hesitation felt by the employee is the concern that they will be deemed disloyal if they check out the current labor market. If you stop, however, and think about your employer, they are always reviewing their business needs and their current talent pool. The expectation that the employee should be “blindly” loyal is a concept that passed 20+ years ago.
 
If you are concerned about being “found out” by your Manager or Human Resources, then you can run a confidential search. You can accomplish this by not openly posting your name with your resume and not responding to advertisements where the prospective employer is anonymous.
 
So, what should you do to stay one step ahead and be ready for the potential bad news?
 
·         Always have a resume ready. In the situation noted above, the person had to start a resume from scratch and the 1st draft was pretty bad. If an intriguing open position presents itself, you always want to be ready to send a resume for review. Positions fill fast and you do not want to make the Hiring Manager wait for you to write a resume. Make sure the document is up-to-date with any recent accomplishments or changes.
 
·         Network at all times. Whether it is to find out about open positions before others or just to have someone put in a good word for you, it pays off to network. You can do this by calling people and staying in touch or by using a networking website, but the key is to stay connected. It takes not just months, but rather years to build a strong network. You have to start sometime (and not when you find yourself out of work), so why not now?
 
·         It costs nothing to listen. If you receive a call about a position…why not listen?    All it will cost is a few minutes of your time and you may end up wanting to hear even more if the position intrigues you. Even if the job turns out to not be something you are interested in, you still are ahead as you most likely added someone to your network.
 
·         Devote a little time each week. I know this will be hard to do when everyone is so busy, but spending an hour or two each week will pay real dividends if you do find yourself needing to find a position quickly. Perhaps pick one night each week where you will review your resume, reach out to a few people in your network (perhaps try to add a few more), and check for interesting job postings.
 
·         Create a passive profile on WNYJOBS.com. In this task, you create a confidential profile outlining your career goals along with relevant experience and skills. If an employer is interested with the outline you have posted then you will receive a confidential e-mail from the prospective employer that will arrive from the WNYJOBS.com website to your e-mail. This is a great option as it maintains your anonymity, but places you in the market. Even better, it takes up almost no time to set up, which is crucial when you are already working a job.
 
The days of someone working with one company for most or all of their employment life ended decades ago. The modern employee will have worked for several different employers before their career is over. A savvy job seeker is always thinking one step ahead, and is open for potential opportunities that are presented. You will want to search from a position of strength, which is often related to currently being employed and not “desperate” for a role. Placing yourself in job search mode will also allow you to avoid seeking employment while unemployed, which often is a more challenging scenario.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search!