I hope you never need this advice. Chances are good, though, that you will–even if you are a high potential, can’t-do-anything-wrong super dooper employee. Most of us end up out on the job hunt street in our career.
The number one thing that you can work on right now to prepare for that day is to build your network. When clients end up on my coaching doorstep after a recent job loss, their number one regret is that they didn’t keep their network current. Ask yourself: if you lost your job next Monday, how many people in your network are familiar enough with what you do to be able to start referring you for job leads immediately? How many of them would want to? How many of them have you had contact with in the last month? year? five years? How many of them do you have current contact info on? When someone starts a job search, it usually takes months to rebuild a network. Months! How can I get your attention about this?
Yeah, I know. You don’t have time. You have to do (keep) your current job, take the kids to soccer, re-do the house.
If you lost your job, you would find the time. And you would wish you had done it sooner.
So what do you do? Start with two things:
1) Join, attend and volunteer for the appropriate professional groups. The people who do jobs like yours belong to these groups. They are also the first to know of the job openings in their own companies. There is a reason that the leadership of these professional groups (PMI, SHRM, ASTD) move easily from company to company. They know people.
2) Join/update/participate in LinkedIn. LinkedIn is becoming the largest recruiting tool in many professions. Join groups that interest you. Post answers/questions when appropriate (but don’t spam people with it). Set your LinkedIn account up so that you get an email update of changes in your network. Reach out to those who have had a change. It doesn’t take much time, but it keeps that contact warm. Post things of interest periodically.
Approximately 75% of jobs are landed through knowing someone who has some connection to the job (in the same company, referral, etc). 75%! Make sure you are ready if you ever need it.