How to Prepare for an Emergency Job Search

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 16, 2012

As we all know, the economic picture is and has been rather bleak the last few years. And with unemployment still far too close to 10 percent for anyone's liking, we can't tell you it's going to get better any time soon. But while you can't magically predict whether or not you'll join the ranks of the unemployed someday soon, you can be prepared for it. And we can help.

These tips are good habits to get into to manage your career even in boom times. So even if you're one of the lucky ones who aren't concerned about being laid off, put the economy to work for you. Let it motivate you to get ready for an emergency job search.

Network everywhere you go, all the time.

Attend networking events and meetings of professional associations. Keep up with your former coworkers, friends, and acquaintances. That way, if you need to ask for a referral, it won't be the first thing they hear from you after a long silence.

Check in with your "affinity groups."

Colleges and universities have done a great job in building and enhancing their alumni databases. These are great resources for informational interviews, job openings, and potential business partners. Some companies have "alumni" groups as well.

Keep your resume current all the time.

Every time you finish a project, receive an award, or get a promotion, it's time to revise. Post your resume on several sites. The big sites are good for volume, but don't forget sites that specialize in jobs in your geographic area and your industry. Salary.com does both.

Research the value of your skills

Research the value of your skills and experience on the talent market.

The Salary Wizard is a great place to start.

Consider working with a headhunter.

Especially if you're not conducting an active search, a headhunter can do a lot of the legwork for you in the background - but remember, headhunters are paid by the employer.

Dust off your references.

When was the last time you spoke with your former boss? The boss before that? Do you have current contact information?

Adding references from previous employers or coworkers on sites like LinkedIn before you are looking for a job can put you one step ahead when the time comes. It's best to avoid collecting references from current coworkers and bosses until you are certain you are leaving.

Put things in order at work.

Make it easy for someone else to do your job if you should leave by organizing files, documenting processes, and cross-training people. Resolve any outstanding interpersonal conflicts to the extent possible, especially with people you hope to stay in touch with. You want to be remembered as a professional and a cherished colleague.

Contemplate your next move.

If you are still at your current job you may have time on your side. Consider whether you want to stay in your industry? Are you looking for more risk, less risk, or the same? Would you be happier with a better job title and more responsibility at a smaller company, or better pay and the same amount of responsibility at a larger company?

Both networking and the internet can be great tools for researching your next move. Salary.com can give you information on salaries and benefits associated with different careers. We can also help you calculate the costs and benefits of relocation.

Go for your dream job.

If you're happy in your current job, it will make you more attractive to a potential new employer. So if you're looking but not really looking, investigate jobs that are a little bit of a stretch.

You may consider a little education to help you make the transition to your new career. Online Degrees can help get you ready for a new job with little to no disruption to your daily routine.

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