Recently, I was contacted by a prospective client who had been unexpectedly downsized from his job. He hadn’t looked for work or networked in 20 years.
His resume and LinkedIn profile hadn’t been updated for some time and his performance reviews and other career documents were on company computers he could no longer access. Needless to say, he was feeling overwhelmed and completely out of control.
As a resume writer and career coach, I hear these kinds of stories all the time. It’s a great reminder that the best time to update your career materials is when you don’t need them! So, what can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you?
Keep copies of career materials.
Keep copies on your personal computer or in a physical file at your home, such as performance reviews, recommendation letters, and emails from colleagues or clients acknowledging your contributions.
Create a file and put anything related to your job performance there as soon as you receive it for easy access later.
Update your responsibilities and accomplishments frequently.
Keeping track of your contributions is helpful for both resumes and annual reviews. Make a point of capturing new duties and achievements while the details are fresh in your mind and file these with your other job documents.
Schedule time at regular intervals to update your career search documents/online profiles with new information.
Network regularly, not just when you’re in an active job search.
Networking today means in-person and online and one of the best places to network online is LinkedIn. Set aside blocks of time every week to add new connections.
Look for people you have something in common with, such as alumni of your school(s), current and former colleagues, and people who belong to the same LinkedIn groups and/or professional associations. Your second-level connections are also a great place to start because you already have at least one person in common.
Always write a personal note mentioning how you’re connected and sharing how you can add value to that person. Follow and engage with thought leaders in your industry and companies you may be interested in and look for people to connect with at these companies. Build relationships and work to give as much as you receive.
Line up references.
Find people who knows your work best and ask for their support, including writing a recommendation for your LinkedIn profile and endorsing your skills.
If you’re afraid of asking people because they might think you’re looking or are about to jump ship, just tell them you’re being proactive because you never know what can happen and you want to be ready. And encourage them to do the same!
Looking for a new job can be challenging and continually managing your career can give you a great head start on the process.
As I always tell my clients, there are plenty of things about your career that you can’t control, so take charge of what you can and don’t worry about the rest.
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