Gone are the days when American workers stayed at the same company for fifty years and retired with a pension and a gold watch. In fact, workers change jobs every 5.4 years, on average. This means we’re always looking for work on some level — even if we really love our jobs.
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It’s called passive job searching, and in a volatile climate, it’s the best way to make sure that you’re not caught unprepared by a layoff or other job loss scenario.
“Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job you wouldn’t ever consider quitting, you should be prepared to move on,” writes Alison Doyle at About.com’s Job Searching site. “Companies reorganize or need to lay-off workers for financial reasons, management changes, you could get a new boss who isn’t as great to work for as your old supervisor, or your personal circumstances could change and you may need to seek employment.”
Doyle offers several tips for passive job searchers, including:
1. Update your resume.
It’s the first thing we forget about when we settle into a job we love, but it’s the last thing we can afford. Update your resume each time you change jobs, titles, or responsibilities, so that you won’t be stuck dusting off a woefully out-of-date CV when things go south.
2. Be an active LinkedIn user.
Just joining the professional social network isn’t enough. You need to keep your profile fresh, typo-free, and as complete as possible. Reach out to former colleagues and professional connections, and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your profession and interests.
3. Write recommendations.
LinkedIn lets you write recommendations for your network, and it’s easier to ask for recommendations if you’ve already offered your support.
4. Target companies.
Make a list of organizations you’d love to work for, and do your homework to find out what they’re looking for in an employee. Drop by their sites from time to time to check for job openings.
5. Be ready for an interview.
Have an interview outfit, a list of references, and an updated resume ready to go at all times. Practice answers to tough interview questions with friends and family, so that you’ll be prepared for curveball questions. Save vacation days, if you have them, so that you won’t find yourself scrambling for an excuse to be away from the office if an interview opportunity comes up.
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