When you have a job you love, the last thing you want to think about is job hunting. After all, if you're already doing something you enjoy, your time's probably better spent figuring out how to get a raise or a promotion within the scope of that position—not finding something new, right?
Well, sure—those are great goals. But, you never know what's down the road: Maybe you'll eventually outgrow your current position, decide to leave for a larger (or smaller) company, get a new boss you don't exactly love, or want to move into a completely different industry. The problem is, if you haven't given any thought to applying to jobs since your last go-round, you and your outdated resume will be at a disadvantage.
So, no matter how unlikely you think it is that you'll be job hunting anytime soon, you should be giving some thought to your someday search. To make it a little easier (because we know you're focusing on kicking butt in your current gig right now), here are the four most important things you need to be doing and how to work them into your busy life. As long as you have these under control, you'll be prepared for whatever comes your way.
1. Keep Your Resume Updated
The minute you snag a job, you can breathe a sigh of relief—because you can finally file your resume away and forget about it for the foreseeable future. No more crafting concise bullet points, converting your duties into accomplishments, and figuring out how to target it to a specific job.
As tempting as that may sound, it shouldn’t stay completely out of mind. When you do begin job searching again—whenever that may be—you won’t want to have to think back through the years to try to remember your accomplishments. Ideally, you should keep your resume updated as you go, so as soon as a new job opportunity (or search) comes up, you’ll be prepared with a ready-to-send document.
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If you’re not in the habit of updating your resume regularly (think every quarter)—well, start now.
If you're pressed for time, use a shortcut to at least keep track of your major projects and accomplishments. For example, I keep a Word document on my work computer to jot down future resume bullet points, but you could also email yourself quick notes and keep those emails in a folder that you can refer back to later. Then, when its time to update your resume, you have all the information you need. Just copy and paste—and voilà! Ready to send.
2. Continue Your Education
Right along with keeping your resume updated with your latest accomplishments, you should be aiming to add certifications, trainings, and professional development to your record, as well. When you do start applying for jobs, you'll want to be able to boast that along with working your tail off at your current job, you were also taking every opportunity to add to your skills. You'll become a more desirable candidate and up your chances of landing a higher-tier position. But, that can't happen if you let your education fall to the wayside while you're happily employed.
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First, talk to your boss to see if there are any upcoming courses you can take on company time—or at least let him or her know that you’re interested in professional development, so that when opportunities arise, you’re the first to come to mind.
If your company is short on formal trainings, or if you’re itching to take a course to learn something completely opposite of your current career, sign up for a class on your own, or try one of our email boot camps! Lessons are sent directly to your inbox, so attending class is as easy as skimming an email.
3. Keep Networking
When you do have to start your next job search, the last place you’ll want to be is out of touch with all your contacts, forcing you to mass-distribute a note that begins with an awkward, “Hi, remember me?”
But at the same time, when you’re currently employed (at a job you love, no less), networking can fall to the bottom of your priority list. When you don’t have a specific purpose for networking (i.e., finding a new job), it’s hard to know what to talk about. However, it’s incredibly important that you maintain those relationships. Then, when you find yourself in search of a new gig, your contacts will have you fresh in their minds.
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Take a few moments to take inventory of your current network (even if you’ve been out of touch for a little too long), making sure your contact information is as up to date as possible. Then, put time on your calendar to reach out to at least one person each week—whether by a quick email, a phone call, or a coffee meeting.
4. Stay Inspired
Sometimes, the hardest part of job hunting is simply getting started. At first, it seems like a wide open opportunity—you can do anything you want. But when you start staring at the flashing curser in the search bar and trying to figure out what you want to do next, things don’t seem too clear anymore.
Of course, it’s easy to forget about that particular job hunt conundrum when you’re happily employed. And so, when you do find yourself in search of something new, it's hard not to be caught off-guard. So even when you no have no expectations to job hunt anytime soon, it’s important to stay inspired and continually consider your career goals, what you’re good at, and the kind of company you’d love to work for. With a firm idea of what you want, you'll feel more confident, prepared, and ready to kick your hunt into high gear.
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The truth is, you’re busy. And hey, you like your current job, so it’s not likely you’re going to spend a huge chunk of time digging deep into your career goals if you’re not actively job searching.
To make it easier on yourself, combine this with something you do on a daily basis—like checking social media. Start following a few of your dream companies (Facebook, anyone?) on Twitter and LinkedIn, so you’re the first to hear about their company culture, initiatives, and job postings. Or, create a career inspiration board on Pinterest to collect career-related articles and job descriptions. When you’re ready to move on, you’ll already have a curated view of what your next step could look like.
Don't let your next job hunt take you by surprise. With these four necessities taken care of, you'll be able to hit the ground running. With a fresh resume and well-maintained network, you won't lose any time—and can focus on finding your next dream job.