Finding a job, especially a first job, can be such an ordeal that, once you have it, you’re likely thinking “I’m all set now, no more worrying about a job.”
I’d say that’s exactly the wrong way to think. In today’s work world, you need to always be job hunting, always thinking about what your next career move will be and how you’ll get there.
No one is guaranteeing you a set number of years at a new job. In public relations, for example, work at agencies is dependent on the volume of client work. Big clients walk away and staff can be let go. In corporate PR, the public relations department is often one of the first to be trimmed in tough times.
So what does always be job hunting mean? The five basics of my job-hunting philosophy are:
- Start building a wide assortment of skills from the first day you start a job – the more skills, the more attractive you are to a next employer and the more jobs you can search for.
- Join groups, associations and organizations that get you known – networking is too important to leave for when you’re out of work. Do it constantly and do it by showing your competency in volunteer endeavors, not just by glad-handing at industry events.
- Volunteer for pro-bono work and for assignments that no one else wants – this builds your personal brand; show what you’re capable of, don’t just talk about it.
- Build a life outside work; join community and social organizations – job leads come from all sources. The more people who know you, the more who are likely to tell you about a job.
- Become a student of your local professional scene – know who’s expanding, who is contracting, who has the best workplace reputation, a creative reputation, who pays the highest salaries. That way, you can pick your next job rather than passively waiting for one to come along.
John N. Frank has found 18 jobs in his 36-year-career, most in journalism and communications. His new book, Always Be Job Hunting, gives real-world lessons, based on his experiences, that you can use in your job search. He also does a job-hunting blog, Alwaysbejobhunting.com and is available to speak at career and job-search events. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.