The Great Unknown

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

A glance at the newspaper headlines in the past few months tells a disturbing story. Whether or not one uses the dreaded "R" word, it's clear that more and more companies are reevaluating their workforce. Instead of worrying about your job security, be proactive and lay the groundwork in case you should need to find a job quickly. A little planning can go a long way if you are faced with an emergency job search.

The following tips will help you prepare for an unexpected job search. At the same time, however, they are a great way to both update your network and assess your current situation.

Network everywhere you go, all the time

Networking is one of the most important aspects of a job search. By joining professional associations and attending its events, you will build your own personal network. When the time comes, you'll be able to reach out to people with whom you already have a professional relationship. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn are also an excellent way to keep up with contacts. They make it easy to stay in touch with former coworkers and connect to other people in your field.

Check in with your "affinity groups"

The link to college doesn't end at graduation. Most colleges and universities maintain extensive alumni networks. These databases can be used to connect to other alumni in your industry. You can either explore it more formally by looking for job openings or you can use it more informally by setting up informational interviews.

Keep your resume current

As your job evolves and your skill set grows, be sure to review and update your resume. Promotions, rewards, and important projects should be continually added. It is a living document that should reflect all the work you have put into your career. If and when the time comes, 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. View Salary.com's Job Resources.
   

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

Corporate recruiters, or headhunters, can be a great resource. Even if you aren't looking for a new job yet, they can show you potential options. And, if you do have to conduct an emergency job search, they'll already be familiar with your resume.

Dust off your references

Stay in touch with your former employers. Checking in with your previous bosses not only keeps them updated on your career, but also ensures that the memory of your employment stays fresh in their minds. By the same token, make sure you have their current contact information.

Put things in order at work

Get in the habit of keeping organized and detailed records. Whether you are laid off, promoted, or find employment elsewhere, one day you will be turning over your current responsibilities to someone new. The transition will be much easier if everything is in order. Keep your files organized and be sure to document as many of your processes as possible. Be sure not to neglect your relationships with your co-workers. A good workplace dynamic will improve productivity.

Contemplate your next move

All the work you have done to prepare for an unexpected job search can be a great springboard into a planned job search. Evaluate your present situation. Take the time to consider what you like and dislike about your career. Do you want to stay in your industry? Are you looking for more risk, less risk, or the same? Are you satisfied with the workplace environment? Does your current job meet your needs?
   

Go for your dream job

After assessing your current job, you’ll be better able to articulate what you are looking for in a new job. It might be time to take a risk and apply for your ideal job. If your heart is in your work, you’ll be a better, more efficient and more attractive candidate.

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