Taking care of your career is a little like taking care of your house. There are some people who diligently maintain their house, scheduling regular maintenance, repainting rooms, updating appliances and furnishings, keeping a good curb-appeal year-round. When it comes time that they would like to move, their transition is often a smooth one. Many people are interested in buying their house, so the seller is better able to get a good price, and move quickly on an offer for the house they want to buy. Your career should be the same way: In the job you currently have, you need to keep up with trends in your profession and industry. You need to keep your certifications and education up to date. You should maintain your network of contacts, not just relying on networking when job searching. And you should maintain a good track record for your work, with good performance reviews, and good relationships with bosses and co-workers. If all of those pieces are in place, when the opportunity comes up for a better job, either within your current company, or elsewhere, you are in a much better position to get the offer.
The economic downturn that started around 2008 made things very difficult for job searchers. While the market seems a little better at this time, it is not quite as good as other time periods, such as technology boom of the 90’s. Even during a down economy, it is possible to change jobs, even careers, but it is a challenge that you need to be prepared for. Your house needs to be in order. As the economy improves, you want to be the person who is ready for the opportunities that become available.
Regardless of whether or not you are job-searching right now, everyone needs to keep their career in good order, ready to sell when the opportunity is right. Have you kept in touch with your networking contacts? Make some calls, schedule time to meet and keep them updated on your current situation. Have you created a LinkedIn profile and become involved in LinkedIn groups? Networking is still the best way to find a new job. Do you know which employers are the best to work for? Are you active in a professional association where you can make contacts in other companies and stay updated on developments in your profession? Are there certifications to work on, or classes to keep your skills up-to-date? Have you revised your resume? What will make you the best candidate when a promotional opportunity becomes available, or when an employer you are interested in working with has an opening? These are things we should all be doing on a regular basis, but especially now as we are starting to see some increased hiring activity.
And what if you don’t like your current career and want to make a complete change? Now is the time to explore your options. Making plans to change a career can take time, often times longer than a year. Even if you don’t need to return to school, the process of researching and weighing your options, building your network, and retooling your resume should take place before the job even becomes available. Yes, these things take time, but there is no better time than right now. Your long-term happiness is worth it!
Contact me if you need help in your career planning.
Alicia Philipp, MS, LPC, NCC