Three simple tips to prepare for your next job
Have you ever known Mr. or Ms. Always Employed? The person who always has their next career move figured out without even trying. While the rest of us seem to struggle with CV updates, endless emails, and awkward phone conversations, only to have the job offer we were eagerly waiting for slip through our fingers.
This endless job search cycle happens when we fall into the same trap – we only look for a job when we need one. After all, we have better things to do with our time while we are working. It is challenging enough to keep up with our day-to-day workload, while raising a family, keeping in touch with friends, maintaining our fitness, and all the other life tasks that consume our precious time. It is only sensible to save time searching for a job until required, right? Sadly, this is furthest from the truth. Waiting until you are ready to put time into your job search will only cost you more time in the end.
The best way to find your next job is to start when you don’t need one
You should always be on the lookout for future employment. Even when you are busy. Even when you are happy. Even when you don’t think you want to change jobs. The reason is that you just never know when you will need to find a new job.
It could be due to a redundancy you didn’t see coming. Perhaps your financial situation changed unexpectedly, requiring you to seek a higher paying role. Or it could be that you get bored and want to find something different.
How to prepare for your next job
1. Keep in touch
Notice I didn’t use the word network. Just hearing the word network can bring about a sense of pressure and a feeling of dread. And while there is nothing wrong with attending an event, meeting a variety of people, and handing out your contact details, there is an easier way. That is to make genuine connections in your life and to stay connected. Whether it is your close friend, former colleague, or someone you met on a train. Continually reach out to those in your life to say hello and see how they are. Not just when you need a favour.
A personal story. I tend to remember birthdays. Many years ago, I was sitting at my desk at work when I remembered it was my former colleague Peter’s birthday. We managed to stay in touch from time-to-time, so I thought why not send Peter a text saying happy birthday. I am glad I did. It turns out that simple birthday text led to an unexpected job opportunity. Notice I didn’t have an agenda, I was just keeping in touch. Funny how these things happen.
So, please make it a habit to be curious about those in your life and send that text or make that phone call. It isn’t as difficult as we make it out to be in our busy minds. You’ll also feel more fulfilled having these connections. And guess what, these are the people who may suddenly remember you when they hear about a great opportunity.
2. Know you worth
We tend to forget our accomplishments and our strengths until we need to dust them off to prepare for an interview. Yet that is too late. We should regularly take stock of what we bring to the table as there are always opportunities around us to shine. And by knowing your worth you can best position yourself in the workplace, whether in your current role or for a future role.
You may be wondering where to start. Start by creating a brag list. As you go about your days and weeks, pay attention to the compliments you receive (both at work and outside of work). Jot them down on the brag list. Also take note of the times when you feel most in flow, when something comes naturally to you. Add that to the list. Finally, look back at old performance appraisals and extract any praise received as well as specific examples of your achievements.
Now look at your brag list for themes of what you are good at and begin to create your personal message, otherwise known as your personal brand. This is how you communicate to your co-workers, friends, family, and all those in your life about what it is specifically that makes you stand out. Maybe you are a solid executer, someone who finds a way to persevere through the toughest tasks and projects, no matter what. Or maybe you have a talent for putting people at ease and are the go-to person to bring to any difficult meeting. Put your message together and don’t be afraid to share it.
3. Continue to learn
It is easy to get comfortable when we are in the same job for a while. We continually use the same skills to perform our daily tasks and these skills become enhanced over time. While that is of course a good thing, it isn’t enough. We must also challenge ourselves with new skills, as having a variety of skills helps to attract new employment.
This doesn’t have to be another degree, or even hours of classes. There are plenty of online learning courses available (some free and others are a nominal amount). Try and find something you don’t know much about and that you find interesting to add to your repertoire of skills. By doing so, you will become more well-rounded, someone who understands the bigger picture. And this will always work to your advantage.
By integrating these simple actions into your routine, they will become more natural to you. A side benefit is you will become more confident and enriched by having greater connections, knowing your worth and continuing to learn.
And don’t be surprised as you are out there enjoying your life when opportunities start knocking on your door!
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