First, congratulations to the those of you who have landed a job recently. But guess what? Your job search isn't over. The economy is still unstable, in fact, it may never be stable. For you to feel like you have control over your career, you need to constantly keep your eyes open for your next great opportunity. You never want to get caught unprepared and unemployed again. By incorporating as many of these activities as possible into your already-busy schedule, you can ensure you have the visibility and strong connections to help you survive.
Join a professional association. Keep up with the trends and build your network at the same time by joining a professional association. Your new employer may even offer to pay for your membership, if they see the return on their investment. Don't assume, ask. You will never know unless you do. Be sure your request includes how your company will benefit, such as: awareness of your company in the community and possibly good public relations, acquiring new ideas and information, potential new partnerships, access to current resources and trends, and more.
Sign up for a class or workshop. Did you ever feel like your skills weren't quite up-to-date while you were job searching? Were their certifications you were missing or skills you lacked? Don't let that happen again. Invest in your professional development. You can either pay for it yourself or ask your company to reimburse you. Again, if you are asking for sponsorship or reimbursement, you will have to put your request in terms that show the benefits to your company. And remember to build your network while you are attending class.
Stay in touch. While you were active in your job search, you undoubtedly met many new people. Look for ways to keep in touch with these people and do this regularly. You can invite them to coffee to catch up, shoot them an email, invite them to an event, forward them an interesting article or book review, or congratulate them on their success or the success of their company. Does it take time? Absolutely. But keeping your network alive is crucial in developing career insurance.
Hopefully you're using LinkedIn and will continue to do so. LinkedIn makes it easier for your to see status updates and news about your network. Remember, not everyone uses the site regularly or may not be a primary source for their communication. Don't forget to use regular email and the telephone.
Community involvement. With the pressure to find a job gone, you now have time to focus on giving back to your community, either locally or globally. Become involved as a volunteer or perhaps a board member. Be sure the organization is one which you are proud to support, makes you feel good, and one you don't mind giving up your free time to help. Don't forget about colleges or universities, they need your help too. Host an alumni event, offer to mentor new graduates, or help support an event.
Seek out mentors. Identify people inside and outside of your company who can serve as formal or informal mentors. Chose people who you can turn to for advice or whom you can learn from. Mentors are not just for those new to the workplace, even seasoned professionals can benefit from learning something new and getting fresh perspectives. If this is something you decide to pursue, respect the time your mentor carves out for you and show your appreciation.
Monitor job postings. The easiest way to monitor job postings is to create alerts on various job boards. Before you invest time applying for a job, contact someone you know inside the company and ask for an update on the job's status. Find out the inside scoop on why the job is available and be sure it is an opportunity worth your time to apply for.
Build your personal reputation. Update your LinkedIn profile and other social network profiles with your new information. Begin tracking your accomplishments from day one in your new job and look for ways you can highlight these accomplishments among your networks. When you receive an email from a manager, client, or colleague thanking you for a job well-done, definitely save the recommendation in a personal file which you keep at home. You may also consider asking for a recommendation on LinkedIn as well. Other ways to build your reputation outside of your current organization might include:
- Contributing to an industry newsletter.
- Giving presentations or sitting on a panel of experts.
- Attending professional conferences and/or trade shows.
Go above and beyond what is expected of you every day. Get your name out there. You want to create a well-respected and well-known reputation and have opportunities come to you. There is no greater ego-boost than an unexpected job offer. Remember, it is unlikely your next job will last forever, so taking some of these steps will help you hit the ground running faster, when, not if, there is a next time.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.