Hunting for a new job can be a difficult, trying affair fraught with selling yourself, cold calls, delivering copies of your resume all over town and intimidating interviews. Too often it’s done in a panicked and desperate way, making it something that many, if not most, dread. This feeling prevents people from even testing the waters until they’re forced to dive in. Just as learning to swim before you have to do it to save your life is a good idea, honing your job-hunting skills in a relatively consequence-free environment can make your life a lot easier — and what better environment than a job market when you’re perfectly happy at your present career? This allows you to take a more passive role and a more confident and relaxed approach.
Climbing the ladder means something different than it once did. In today’s business world, the ladder is multi-company, not the hierarchy of a single corporation but your career, your climb upwards, your ascension. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American will hold roughly 10 jobs between the ages of 18 and 34. Changing careers can be the best way to move up your ladder quickly, but keeping an eye out for better pay, higher position or both isn’t the only reason to be on the job hunt. Looking for a new job, even when you’re happy in your current position, can benefit your overall career, present and future.
5 big benefits of job hunting when the going’s good
- Job interviews get better with experience. Or, rather, you get better at them. When you don’t really need the job, there’s far less on the line, allowing you to be more relaxed and confident. You get the chance to learn recovery techniques after a big flub or mistake, negotiate salary or benefits packages, and be grilled on your expertise — all great learning experiences.
- You get a personal assay. Getting yourself out there give you a far better idea of your perceived and actual worth on the job market. You’ll get a sense of how valuable your experience really is, not to mention some valuable perspective on your position. This can help you feel more confident in your current position, give you the ammunition you need to ask for a promotion or pay increase or even make it clear that it’s time to move on.
- Being offered a job is empowering. Even if you don’t take it, there’s a certain rush in knowing that you could get a job elsewhere, along with a sense of security and pride. With this knowledge, you can take the power back in salary negotiations at your current position or use your current security to haggle with the people offering you the job — either way, you’re holding all the cards. Realize your power.
- A better job might just pop up. Better jobs are out there. When you’re tapped into the job market and people know you’re looking, you’re more likely to hear about those dream (or close) jobs that get snatched up the instant the word’s out.
- Hit the ground running. If your situation suddenly changes at your current job, you can easily switch your career hunt into high gear because you’ve got everything ready to go, from your interview skills to your freshly updated resume.
The big to-dos
There are two big things to do if you want to start testing those job market waters:
- Network: Go to every networking event. This includes conferences, meetings, any opportunity to travel, reunions and alumni events, charity events, and much more. The people you meet now might be future business partners, bosses or even just providers of great recommendations. Stop doing lunch at your desk, and use that time to build relationships and connections in your field.
- Build yourself: What useful skills and certifications exist in your field? Are you interested in graduate level careers that would require you to get a master’s degree or higher? You can make yourself much more valuable to your present workplace and more attractive to others. You’ll also meet people in schools and at training programs and make lasting connections.
It’s important to remember that these relationships and connections need to be maintained. Making people feel used can set fire to bridges without you knowing what happened. Don’t cut off contact or stop showing up just because you got what you wanted, whether that was a new job or a promotion. It’s okay to scale your involvement back, especially when you have a new career, just don’t drop out. Reach out to people who helped you occasionally.
When you’re networking and not actively looking for employment, the goal changes to making contacts. Just meet new people, have fun and stay up-to-date on career opportunities in your field.
Make sure you’re happy at work
It’s important to make sure that you are happy at work, not simply too comfortable and afraid to change. By starting to network and train, you’re sure to get a better idea of the job market in your field — and reap the benefits of looking up the ladder before you were forced to.
Karl Fendelander cut his teeth on web writing in the late nineties and has had a wide variety of interesting careers since then. When he’s finding something new to do, Karl can be found biking about town and hiking and climbing throughout the West. He is also a contributor to OnlineColleges.com.
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Category: Personal Branding