The US economy is growing again and supposedly recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. Unemployment is at a record low. Employers are once again complaining about skills shortages. You have a great job, love your company, and aren’t looking to make a move anytime soon. Basically, everything is great! So why start a job search?
It’s debatable how much warning the financial crisis provided before it hit. But one thing is clear. Many US workers were caught woefully unprepared when companies slashed jobs to stabilize stock prices. One in ten workers found themselves unemployed and competing against thousands (often former peers and colleagues) for a rapidly dwindling pool of jobs.
If you were one of the workers caught unprepared, you definitely appreciate what I’m talking about. If you weathered the storm unscathed, or weren’t yet in the job market, then you’ll need to trust me. It’s hard to imagine being out of work for months, or even years, unexpectedly. It’s definitely a worst case scenario.
I’m not spreading doom and gloom, or trying to predict the next downturn. To borrow from the Boy Scouts, I’m advocating you should be prepared. Anyone can find themselves in an unexpected employment situation for a multitude of reasons. If you don’t believe me, think about this. When was the last time you updated your resume?
Many people only touch their resume when they are job searching. But as your skills and experience grow, your resume quickly becomes irrelevant unless it’s current. Outdated skills and technologies need to be removed or updated. The current role needs to be added and summarized with value quantified. Older roles may need to be condensed or removed. The resume may need hours of work or even a complete overhaul before it’s useful for a new job search. All of that assumes you can find an electronic version to update without starting from scratch.
Now think about the last time you interviewed for a job. For most of us, it was the interview for our current role. Obviously, that interview went well. We got the job. But how many positions did we interview for before landing this gig?
For years, I have advocated to friends, colleagues, and even my own employees to keep the resume current and monitor the job market, while you have a job. I even recommend going on 1 or 2 interviews each year. Caveat: never waste the time of a company by interviewing for a role you don’t want. There can be consequences for declining an offer, limiting future options when you might need them.
When taken seriously, this strategy forces you to update the resume and provides valuable interview practice to keep those skills honed for when they are needed. Most importantly, it keeps you in tune with the job market for your industry so you know who’s hiring and what you are worth. It might even leave you with a current offer if something unexpected happens. You could cash out and move on, banking severance pay. Market information is invaluable if you need to start a search unexpectedly. You will be that much further ahead of your competition.
If you follow the search process through and receive an offer, you have a potential bartering chip to negotiate with your current employer, assuming you are under compensated. More importantly, this constant state of searching affords self-confidence. Instead of worrying about cutbacks, you know there are employers out there that value your skills. This confidence can make you truly appreciate your current company, manager, and role. If you aren’t in a good job situation, getting a better offer may shed light on the problems and provide a way out.
Instead of worrying about your job status, or worse, getting caught unprepared during a downturn, try starting a job search. It might improve your confidence, on the job performance, and even help you come out ahead. Or don’t. Wait in line when you need a job, along with everyone else.