This is Not Your Last Job

After a lengthy job search, you’ve finally landed that job you were after. You can now remove your resume from the Internet, quit going to those networking meetings, and just focus on the new job!  Right?

Well, not exactly. Back when employment meant “work most of your life for a single employer and bring home a pension along with a gold watch”, dropping out of the job hunt mode after landing your job was probably OK…but not today. The likelihood that you will still be working on this new job 5 years from now is less than 50%! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that Boomers which entered the workforce between 1975 and 1982 have averaged over 10 jobs through 2006 and that this trend is likely to continue or even grow over the next several years. Other sources indicate that the average U.S. worker will likely have 3-5 distinctly different careers over their lifetime.

This new reality is pushing us towards changing our job search mentality from a 1-time task to a continuous event. So how do you continue the job search without causing your new employer to have second thoughts on hiring you or endangering your position by what seems to be overt job shopping?  First, you must recognize that…

YOU are in charge of your own career

This is the biggest change we face today…you need a mindset that says “I am in charge, my employer isn’t!” For Baby Boomers or even Gen X, this idea is a substantial change from what they envisioned when they entered the job market in the prior century.

Many of the larger or more established companies (think of firms listed in the Fortune 500 or Dow Jones Industrials) had career paths and career training as part of their human resources model. In prior years it was more economical for these firms to keep employees and train them to move into new roles or to take new responsibilities rather than trying to replace them. This was a common approach for most organizations that had significant learning curves for tasks within their firm, such as manufacturing or assembly plants. But as we’ve moved to an economy that emphasizes information and services that can be easily out-sourced, partnered, or obtained for free (think of Wikipedia), the need for firms to keep, retrain, and develop employees is dropping by the wayside.

The new approach is clear…you are now in charge of your career, building your value, increasing your talent, and ensuring your marketability in an ever-changing economy. But more than just talent building and education (which I’ll talk about in another post), you must take your career into your own hands. This means that you will now be on the job hunt all the time, not just when you’re between jobs. So how do we do this…and how do we do it with reasonable openness yet caution?

Keep your online resume updated

You need to keep your public presence up-to-date and available, while not overtly hunting for a new job. This means that once you’ve landed that job, you’re not required to pull down all the career and resume artifacts you might have strewn around the Internet. In fact, if you’ve used a resume distribution service that’s plastered your resume all over the Internet, it’s nearly impossible to take those copies down. So what do you do with them?

Simple…keep them updated! On one of the first few days after you land that new job, update your resume on the major boards that you frequent (such as Monster, CareerBuilder, or LinkedIn) and revise the job information to reflect your new job title/company, your start date, indicate that you’re currently employed there, and provide a 1 or 2 sentence “job description” so the person looking at your resume knows what your new role is, especially if your new job title is vague. Do not put a detailed job description here at this time…just a line or two from the actual job posting will be fine. This changes the perspective of recruiters and others that are looking at your resume – it shows you’re currently employed (which is a plus), as it automatically makes you more marketable.

But here’s where it becomes a bit more challenging…once you make that initial change, how up-to-date should you keep it? There are many opinions, but here’s the two most common approaches taken today: 1) No further changes after the initial update and 2) Keep it constantly up-to-date. I personally like #2 if you are a consultant, confident of your ability to retain your current job, or know that your current job is merely a stepping-stone within your career. Option #1 is more important if you want time to nurture your position within your current firm or suspect that your employer may feel threatened by your continued open job searching.

Enough for now. In a future post I’ll write about continuing education, developing a web presence, maintaining a social network, and more. Remember that your career is yours to manage…and you need to work on it as diligently as you work at your current job!

Bottom Line: The age of long-term employment is over. You have to manage your own career and can’t assume your firm will do it for you. Keeping your resume visible on the online job boards is a simple and effective way to make sure new opportunities have a way of finding you on the Web. Maintaining your online presence is an essential step in keeping your ears open for new career opportunities.

. . . .

See the Index of all my Job Hunter articles on my Backlog tab.

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