NEWS + ADVICE
You’ve Got the Job, Now What? 10 Tips for Staying Marketable
Congratulations! You have landed your new cleared job. Maybe you set a goal at the beginning of the year to find a new job, and it took a while, but you did it. Maybe you decided mid-year that you wanted a new job, and you just landed a new opportunity.
Or, maybe you have been working hard for several months, and with three or four serious interviews scheduled, you know you’re close.
Or, possibly, you recently decided it was time to advance your career by pursuing a new opportunity, and are wondering what lies ahead after you find it.
In any of these scenarios, the anticipated feeling is one of relief, or will be, when your job search is finally over and you are secure in your new cleared position. You can put away the tools and techniques of job seeking, relax, and just focus on your new position. Right?
Unfortunately, much as you might like it to be, your job search is never really over. All that has occurred is that you’re just not going to be in active job search mode for a while. The truth is you can never ensure that you will not be looking for another new job again. Such is the cleared employment marketplace of today.
Many job seekers with whom I have worked who have landed their new position have asked the following question:
“How do I ensure this never happens to me again, that I’m never laid off again?”
Of course, the answer is, “You can’t.”
Long gone are the days when companies and organizations hired employees for the long haul, and an effective and productive worker could count on many years of employment with the same firm, if not lifetime employment. Today, with the pace of change companies face in order to stay viable, most employers just can’t guarantee long tenures for their employees when they themselves don’t know what their firm will look like a few years down the road.
Cleared job seekers who roll from contract to contract are quite familiar with this, as well as the concept of always being in job search mode.
So, while not entirely futile, for an employee to seek a position which will last a lifetime, even for many years, is unrealistic. So, rather than asking “How do I ensure that I am not laid off again?’ a better question for job seekers to ask is:
“How do I ensure that if I’m faced again with losing my job or my contract, I’m in the best position to find another cleared job, and sooner rather than later?”
Managing Your Career, Or Just Doing Your Job
What we are really talking about in answering this question is how to best manage your career. Certainly you’ve heard that you need to pro-actively manage it. But what does this mean for a cleared job seeker who has just become an employee, or expects to be employed soon?
One thing it means is doing more than your job. Many if not most job seekers who land their new job return to their old habits: Nose to the grindstone, working hard, putting in the hours, going the extra mile and then some. However, this approach is not managing your career; it is simply doing your job. Recall that this approach didn’t protect you from losing your last job, and it won’t eliminate the possibility that you could lose your new one either.
No one would argue that in your new position, you need to do an excellent job. That’s a given, just to keep it. However, you need to do more.
You Need to Do More than Just Your Job
Over the course of your job search, you learned a lot about how the employment world works. You learned how to market yourself. You developed marketing tools to showcase your capabilities, experience, and accomplishments. You attended professional events, job fairs, and association meetings, and you made the effort and took the time to do so. You developed new contacts and renewed old ones. You maintained these contacts on a regular schedule. You brushed up old skills, gained new knowledge, and may have even secured new credentials and skills. You developed a new set of work habits that had you managing your own career. What you need to do now is keep it up!
Keeping up Your Newfound Marketability
One of my final messages to successful clients when we are holding our debriefing meeting, and noting lessons learned, is this: Don’t let your newfound knowledge about what keeps you marketable wane. Should the unthinkable happen, and you find yourself on the employment market again, you will be better positioned to find a new position if you keep up your new habits, working them into your schedule. Below are 10 Tips and Techniques to put on your Career Management TO DO List.
10 Tips and Techniques for Staying Marketable
- Manage your own career.
No one will manage it for you – no matter what they say – “they” being the companies who hire you and promise they will do so. It stands to reason that no one is more invested in your cleared career than you. So take the time and make the effort to treat managing your career with the same importance as you treat doing your new job.
- Expect change.
It used to be said that the only two constants are death and taxes. There’s a third: Change. It’s a given that things will change. It will occur in many facets of our lives . . . our jobs and careers included. So expect it. Whether due to a contract ending, budget reduction, etc., any cleared employee could find themselves on the market again, and probably will. But this time, don’t let it surprise you.
Be observant and recognize hints of change. I can not stress strongly enough that you recognize hints or undercurrents of change in your company, industry, geographic locale, and profession. Don’t ignore them. Most of the time, job seekers I’ve talked with who swore the layoff or downsizing was a “complete surprise,” later admitted, after thinking about it, that they did notice some changes. They just chose to ignore them.
Leave the ostrich syndrome behind. Be pro-active. Heed the early warning signs of change and prepare for it.
- Manage your External-Public-Professional-Profile.
I am referring to the profile you established during your search in which you:
- Developed marketing tools to showcase your capabilities, experience and accomplishments. Keep your marketing tools current.
- Achieved visibility by attending and participating in professional events, conferences, and association meetings. Stay visible in your profession. Determine what professional associations you not only need to join, but need to take an active, if not leadership, role in. Identify conferences you should attend, and go. Look for publications or periodicals for which you could write an article or two.
- Developed a network of new contacts and renewed old ones. Stay in touch. Maintain your current network, and continue to build it via adding new members continually. You will find yourself doing this almost effortlessly if you participate in relevant professional activities.
- Enhanced your skills and knowledge. Keep learning and document it. Continue to grow your knowledge and continue your education by taking courses, attending seminars and conference, participating regularly in a professional association, and pursuing relevant certifications. Keep on top of your field and the direction it is going.
To sum it up, continue all of these worthwhile pursuits. You managed to work all of these actions and activities into your schedule while searching for your new cleared job. Now that you have it, or are close, determine to and plan for incorporating them into your schedule, in addition to doing your new job.
- Manage Your Internal-Company-Professional-Profile.
Using the same networking skills that you learned in your job search, network internally within your new company (See Tip #3.) and at your client site. Gain visibility within your new firm by participating in internal functions and developing an internal network of contacts. Knowing people inside your firm and at your client site who know, respect, like, and see you as a contributor can lengthen your longevity.
- Develop and Build Your Professional Portfolio.
Just as an artist can always demonstrate their competence and accomplishment via their portfolio, you should develop yours. Fill your portfolio with physical evidence of your accomplishments, including such items as e-mails recognizing the caliber of your work, key reports, commendations from the employer or customers, recommendations you gave the company that were adopted, awards & rewards, excellent performance reviews, a resume kept current, etc. Keep your portfolio current. Schedule regular updates on your calendar.
Hint: Keep a complete copy of your portfolio in your home office as well as your work office.
- Update your resume quarterly! No exceptions!
This is ultra-important to being prepared for any opportunity that comes your way. Make a date with yourself to review and update your resume quarterly. Put it on your calendar, and keep your appointment with yourself to update this important marketing tool on a regular basis. Yes, actually schedule it by putting it on your calendar quarterly. Block a time-span of two to four hours in which you revise your resume by updating it with new activities and accomplishments . . . which shouldn’t be too hard if you’ve been doing Tip # 8.
- Update your Marketing Plan regularly.
Treat your Marketing Plan as a working document that is continually in-process. Add to your Marketing Plan the names of organizations you encounter in your work, or hear about, that would be marketing targets for you should you find yourself on the employment market again. Make it a point to continue to keep current about firms and organizations in your field and talk with people acquainted with these new target firms at professional events.
Don’t forget to revise your other marketing materials including your Elevator Speech and Personal-Professional Business Card so that they accurately represent you and your skill set at any time.
- Weekly, Note Your Activity and Accomplishments.
Select a time each week to review your week’s work, as follows:
- Note what you achieved during the week.
- Note where you fell short and what you intend to do about it.
- And note what’s next on your Business Agenda.
Clients often choose late Friday afternoon to do their weekly review, but it can be any other day that works best for you. The important thing is to schedule it and write it all down. It’s a great habit to get into. It’s amazing how quickly we forget last week’s accomplishments when the pressures and commitments of this week arrive. Using this technique, you will never again have to try to remember your past accomplishments when it comes time to sell yourself in your resume, your annual performance review, your annual argument for why you deserve a raise or promotion, or in the event of a downsizing, why they should keep you! You will have this information at your fingertips.
- Develop Your Presentation Skills.
Presenting well is a key skill for keeping and getting a job. Good presenters are of value to a company. Good presenters, who are speaking at an event or conference, are known to have gotten job offers just by doing so. Happened to me!
- Stay Physically Fit.
Many job seekers tell me that, during their job search, they actually had time to practice a fitness routine, some for the first time in their adult lives. Keep up this good habit! You made time for this activity then, so do it now. To exude good physical fitness is attractive to employers . . . current and prospective.
- Bonus Tip. Don’t Delete Your Job Board Profiles.
You may want to set your job seeker profile to Private, but do stay subscribed to the marketing emails that ClearedJobs.Net or other job boards disseminate. That helps you keep abreast of what’s happening in the cleared job search community.
In summary, it boils down to this. Although no one, upon landing a new and exciting position, wants to think ahead to the prospect of having to conduct another yet job search, things change and things happen. While it is possible that in your new position you may have indeed found your “forever job,” the odds are against it. Either a company will decide for you that it’s time for a change, or you yourself will find an opportunity that you want to pursue, the better option for sure.
- The company decides it’s time for a change
It is a fluid and changing employment marketplace. Companies are always in a state of flux, as they work to respond to changing markets and trends. Chances are that their needs are going to change, and with it the type of skills, knowledge, and experience they need from employees. You may or may not be able to fulfill these new needs. If you do, great. If not, you may find yourself on the employment market.
So decide now that you will be prepared for future career transitions. Save yourself the angst of surprise.
- You find an opportunity that you want to pursue.
Of course, this is the best case scenario: A new and unexpected opportunity comes your way. By pro-actively managing your career as described in the 10 Tips and Techniques for Staying Marketable, you’ll be prepared to pursue it and decide for yourself if it’s time for a change.
Let’s say that things are going great! You are happily working at your job, foreseeing a bright future with your current employer, and an unexpected opportunity comes across your path. By continually working at proactively managing your career, you will find you are prepared to do two things:
- Assess and decide if the opportunity is right for you.
- Pursue it, because your marketing tools are current and correct. So many of these unexpected opportunities are lost by employees who were simply unprepared for opportunity. However, if you’ve been doing the work of managing your career, keeping your marketing tools current, your visibility high, and your network active, it will be easy to recognize and pursue a good opportunity when one comes along.
So be prepared whether you next job change is outer- or inner-driven.
No Insurance For Job Loss
There is NO insurance against job loss. NOTHING will guarantee that you will never again experience a layoff or loss of your job. The potential for job change is great and just part-and-parcel of how we work today.
However, you can “take out insurance,” so to speak, against being totally unprepared should a great job opportunity cross your path, or, worst case scenario, should a future layoff, contract loss or outsourcing of your job function occur. Following these 10 Tips and Techniques for Staying Marketable is your best insurance that you will be viewed as an MVP inside your company and as a potential MVP by hiring firms!
Best of luck in your job search.
Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment. She’s also been a popular resume reviewer at our Cleared Job Fairs. You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected]. Follow Nancy on Twitter @AfterJobClub.This entry was posted on Monday, November 13, 2017 4:12 pm