Be a Job Market Boy Scout Ready for Anything Print E-mail

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Think back to last year. Were you in the same job then as you are now? Many people have seen their world change significantly since that time, often taken by surprise. People who had been employed for years and enjoyed long tenure with their employers have suddenly found themselves without a job as budget cuts have reached deep into businesses. Very qualified individuals who have never had to actively look for a job, but rather have been recruited (or “head hunted”) find themselves in the middle of a job search for the first time in their careers. It can be a bit scary.

The Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” is quite apt for everyone these days. Being prepared will make the unexpected much less scary when it arises. If you are a Boy Scout and you are suddenly faced with a snake bite, your training has prepared you for what to do. The situation is still serious but the panic that would assail someone without training is not present. Job search is much the same.

No matter what your employment situation, you need to be prepared for change. Being prepared means many things, too. First, you need to be informed and educated to be prepared. Stay in tune with your industry and related industries. Talk to colleagues and read trade journals. Watch the business papers and read about your industry from different perspectives, including the financial perspective.

Keep your training up-to-date. Make sure you stay on top of current trends, certifications, and methodologies. Refuse to become a complacent dinosaur by making continuing professional development and education part of your preparedness. Learn to use new tools, new software, or new means of communication such as social media.

Another way to be prepared is to always stay in the job market. Opportunity knocks unexpectedly so be ready to submit an updated resume if you receive a contact from someone. Scrambling around to get your resume prepared for a wonderful, unexpected opportunity is frustrating, not to mention counter-productive. A resume should be like a will or life insurance – you want it updated when you need it, not after you need it.

Keep your network warm at all times to stay prepared. Networking is by far the most effective method of identifying job opportunities but the time to work your network is not after being laid off. You want to always maintain contacts with people you know whether it is dropping an email once a month or making a phone call. Make your holiday card list into a quarterly contact list. Not only will a warm network help you when you suddenly faced a downsizing, but it keeps warm opportunities coming your way when things are running smoothly, too.

Be prepared with knowledge of salaries and benefits and how they change with the market environment. Know the range of salary for your profession, at your level, and in your geographic area. Salaries and benefits change with the market, much like housing appraisal values. What was at one level last year may not be at that level now. Salaries could have fallen or they could have increased. Before engaging in salary negotiations, know what you are currently worth on the market.

Have your references and a portfolio prepared. Talk to the people you would list as a reference prior to giving out their names and contact information. Ask their permission to list them as a reference. If they will provide a written letter of recommendation, that’s even better! Put those letters of recommendation in a portfolio along with other job-related documents such as awards, certificates, and designs. If you walk in to an interview with a “sales” presentation of your career, you will have the edge over the competition automatically.

Maintain professional memberships and activities in civic organizations. Letting your memberships lapse not only affects your network but it also impacts your ability to stay current in your industry or in your community. Take an active role in professional organizations and you will expand your network even more. Being active in industry organizations is a great way to stay prepared in your career.

In the job market we have today, it is imperative to stay prepared for change. Change is inevitable and is best handled from a perspective of expectation. Keep your network warm, stay updated on professional skills, and make sure your resume is ready to go at a moment’s notice. Panic and unpreparedness make for poor decisions. Your career is not something in which you want to make decisions based on fear or ignorance!

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC), is the President and CEO of GetInterviews.com, a 17+ year old career branding firm that aids job seekers through their job searches. She’s been cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and is published in 20+ career books. She has long been an inspirational mentor and trainer to other resume writers and career professionals.