In the last month I've heard from 3 different friends that unexpectedly lost their jobs. They each had been in their positions for at least 5 years, and suddenly found themselves dusting off and updating their old resumes, and beginning the often daunting task of getting a new job.
While I hope that this isn't a predictor of what 2008 and the recession has in store, I think it does serve as a good reminder to everyone to be prepared. You never know when you'll find yourself in the same spot. So here are 4 things every currently employed person really should do right now to better prepare just in case.
1. Update your resume. Everyone dreads doing their resume. Staring at a blank Word document or template and getting started on your resume from scratch can be tough. But it can be a lot tougher if you haven't done it in a few years. While you are at your current job, it is easier to describe what you do, and to quantify your achievements. Plus there isn't the same kind of pressure on you if you don't really "need" to get it done. Get it done anyway.
2. Search for a job. When is the last time you looked to see what types of jobs are available in your field? When did you last open the classified section of the paper, or browse online job boards? If it was when you found your current job, and if that was more than 2 years ago, you need to look again. You need to be familiar with companies that hire in your field and with competitors of your current company. It is easier to find a job when you have a job, so even if you aren't truly looking for another position right now, see what's out there. And who knows, you might just stumble across a better opportunity.
3. Feed your network. Just like your resume, don't wait until you need it to nurture your network. Going to a mixer once in a while and collecting business cards isn't effective networking. You need to maintain strong relationships with people that can help you if you find yourself looking for a new job. Most likely, that will be people that belong to the same professional organizations that you do, or former colleagues or classmates. So attend meetings, keep in touch with friends, and take people to lunch. Even better, get involved in the community. You'll not only feed your network, you'll also contribute something positive, and you'll feel good about it. I promise.
4. Exercise your right brain. It's not too late to make yourself less outsourceable. Practice skills that will make you more valuable, to either your current employer or your next one. Read Dan Pink's "A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future" and work on your six critical senses for the future: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. The book not only explains how each sense applies to both your business and personal life, it also includes a Portfolio for each, with tools and exercises to help you really cultivate each sense. (For those of you that aren't motivated enough to read the book, I do plan to do a post on each sense in the near future, so stay tuned. Although I highly recommend reading the book yourself.)
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving."
- Oliver Wendall Holmes -