Ignoring your career these days irresponsible as is ignoring credit card debt. I’ve done it and see professionals who continue to do it. Career professionals who help people find jobs are not crisis counselors. Don’t be fooled: Companies can dissolve as quickly as Alka-Seltzer. The bottom line: Be ready at all times to find the best opportunities.
According to a poll conducted by ZipRecruiter for USA Today, 30% of professionals are leaving their new jobs within the first 90 days. But that may be a good thing, right? Don’t wait to be told a company is downsizing or the industry is tanking before making the right move for you.
But I left a couple of jobs without having another. I was tortured by family and friends for quitting. I was told to stay and “tough it out!” I left because the job sucked, and I think even a lateral move is good if you’re unhappy. But what I wish I had done was remain in job-search mode. I would have saved time, money, and feelings.
It takes so long to find a job after a surprise layoff, termination, or company closing. But it doesn’t take as long if you regularly practice networking and career development. Think about it — wouldn’t you rather have control of where, what, when, and how you work?
Remaining in “job-search mode” doesn’t mean you’re constantly perusing job boards and pursuing leads. It means you’re always simply preparing for the right job, and taking control of your career. For today’s careerist, keeping your network engaged and familiar with your career interests can cut down the time you would spend looking for a new position. Here are other reasons to remain engaged in your job search:
1. The overwhelming amount of competitors will exclude you.
Millions rely on job boards and find it difficult to stand out. Many don’t ever get a callback or hear from the employer. Even qualified candidates are frequently overlooked. But people do find jobs through networking. When you are in a perpetual job-search mode, you won’t need to rely on a job board. If you’re engaged with your network, they can alert you to unposted jobs because they know and like you know the value of your work. A few may be current and past coworkers, and fewer may include current and past supervisors.
2. Frequent technology change industries too fast.
Professionals who stay on top of technology changes within their industry are staying on top of their own careers. Some companies stay committed to cutting edge of technology, but many don’t. Staying active in professional organizations is one way to stay apprised of industry changes.
3. It’s harder to negotiate for the market rate when you’ve ignored it.
I see two mistakes professionals when negotiating their compensation: 1) they start their compensation research too late, waiting until they advance well into the interview process, and 2) they use one source to research compensation information. Unless you get a straight answer from the employer, or the company publicly posts the salary range, it becomes a game of poker. You have to guess what’s in the employer’s payroll hand. The best resource to leverage is to connect with someone who would share their salary information, but it’s not always easy to find an employee in the company who’s held your potential position and would also share such information. But it never hurts to ask, especially if you have a good relationship with the person.
Compensation research requires constant attention as you search for new opportunities. Sometimes, it may take you a year if you’re working and remaining engaged in marketing yourself. Salaries do change from year to year, depending on the industry. Also, familiarize yourself with data coming from Payscale, Glassdoor, Salary.com, and other sources. Your industry may provide regional reports of salaries within the industry broken out in different ways.
4. Your references will change often.
Some of your references are mentors will have progressed in their careers in similar ways you would like to. You can learn from them, so it’s a good idea to keep up them engaged. But if it’s been more than 10 years since they worked with you, find five to seven references you’ve worked with more recently who can also vouch for you.
5. Your skills have a short shelf life.
In this Harvard Business Review article, many argue college programs have a short expiration date of their usefulness. Employers have said technology is changing so fast that even a college graduate with a four-year degree may have outdated knowledge. Staying in a perpetual job search will alert you to supplement your training with updated teaching right before leaving school or shortly after. Even a few years after college, disengaging from job-search mode could cost you thousands of dollars.
6. You will fear the unknown far less.
Sudden needing to look for a job is similar to walking through a landmine. There’s not many available when the market is crowded, and you don’t know if one will blow up. Staying engaged in a perpetual job-search means knowing when and how trends change and will know where the mines lie. When you hear of changes, it should evoke “what-does-this-mean-for-me” question. It helps to have a cheering section within your network who will encourage you to stay where you are, apply, or inquire.
7. You’ll navigate career change more seamlessly.
Professionals who navigate career changes seamlessly are not filling out online job applications. Instead, they are using job boards for position descriptions for keywords to include on their resume and Linkedin profile, and use Linkedin to find company connections. When they find connections, they are taking conversations offline and creating meaningful relationships. Here’s an example: Tom used Facebook to follow the company’s fan page and got the name of the hiring manager and email address from the page’s facilitator. The person on the other end also offered to refer him, since Tom was a regular visitor who interacted with the page. This led to an interview and a job offer. Oh, and Tom sent his referrer and people who gave him 15 minutes or more of their time a $5 Starbucks gift card. Tom’s efforts weren’t just to get this job now, but also to get others in the future using his connections.
Staying on top of your career is crucial.
Controlling your career is essential to sound financial health and peace of mind. What you may consider a time suck in monitoring career happenings can save you weeks and months in a job search. You’ll find a job board is useful, but not to rely on for your career advancement. It takes networking, watching industry news, and being open to constantly evolving.
Mark is a career advice writer and career consultant. He writes about careers, HR, and the workplace. He contributes to Payscale, FlexJobs, andcareer blogs.
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