14 things you should be doing even if you aren’t currently seeking a job
Complacency can be deadly. Here are 14 things that you should be doing even if you are happy and feel secure in your new job.
Many workers completely abandon any trace of job seeking when they are working. This can be from being complacent or perhaps ‘there just isn’t enough time’ or ‘that isn’t a priority right now’.
Overview – Why you need to prepare.
The days of a worker finding a company after high school and staying with that company for life are long past. Even if you are working for an ideal company under ideal conditions, the situation can change overnight. Things that can throw a wrench in your happy employment might be:
- Financial troubles in the company
- The company gets bought out and you are under new management
- The boss you got along with so well leaves
- You end up on the wrong side of office politics
There can be other reasons as well. A friend was working in a professional capacity. The company got bought out. She was in the restroom when the new management team came in.
“You, You, You , You and you” said the new manager as he pointed out five people. They were terminated immediately. The new team wanted to cut staff so they randomly fired five people. My friend kept her job because she wasn’t at her desk working.
1. Keep your resume updated
When you are happily working it is easy to forget about your resume. If you suddenly find yourself looking for work, then you have to spend a good deal of time polishing your resume. Your resume is critical since many company applications and job boards allow you to upload your resume instead of manually typing it every time. I tried a number of different ways to write and format a resume. I found that the resume builder at Livecareer.com worked the best for me. It’s free for the first few months, then $19.99 / month after. One nice thing is that it allows you to save your resume in a number of formats: PDF, Word, RTF, rich text and HTML. There are other resume builders available. Find one that works.
Depending on your industry, you might need to quickly tweak a resume for a specific position. This is especially true when recruiters contact you.
2. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated.
Many recruiters and hiring managers will check your LinkedIn profile as a first step. Make sure that your profile is up to date. If your profile is non-existent or outdated and suddenly gets a fresh look, that could tip off your current management that you are looking for a position. It is better to make small changes over time. If your job duties bring a new skill, take the time to update LinkedIn and your other job search profiles.
As a bonus, many companies allow you to use your LinkedIn profile to populate your application on their job application pages.
3. Keep a profile on other job search boards.
Most job search boards will allow you to create a profile but mark it “Not interested in new Job. Filling out the profiles takes a good bit of time. Set things up now. Some boards to consider are:
Make it a point to periodically update your profiles on all of the boards. Each board will have a setting that allows you to indicate that you are not actively looking for a position.
4. Keep your social media feeds clean
Employers today will often check your social media feeds. You need to be careful what your online profiles say about you. A lot of what you post on Facebook is searchable even if the searcher is not one of your friends.
It should be fairly obvious as to what you don’t want everyone to see but here are a few thoughts:
- Politics and religion – You have no way of knowing how the hiring manager leans. Keep that as private as possible.
- Health issues – Companies will discriminate against those they think are not healthy.
- Badmouthing previous employers – Even if you are 100 percent correct, this is a bad idea.
The image you want
Your social media profiles should show that you are energetic, lively, intelligent and industrious.
- My default settings for any posts is “Friends”. If you change that when you are creating a post, then it is changed for the next post. Items that are posted as “Public” are searchable from outside of Facebook. My solution:
- Leave the setting at friends
- Make your post
- If you want it to be public, then go to your Facebook profile and change it there.
- If you are posting general interest items, make sure they are all set to ‘public’. This increases the noise ratio for someone searching for your Facebook activity.
- Keep topics such as politics, activism, medical issues as private as you can.
- Keep in mind that replies to open groups or posts might be searchable outside of Facebook.
- Summary: You can hide some of your deepest personal feeling but you can’t hide them all.
- I minimize political or other controversial posts on Twitter. I use about 90 percent of my tweets to try to further my career goals.
- There are online tools that will allow you analyze someone’s twitter feed. You should do this with your profile to see what other people would see. Keep in mind that recruiters and hiring managers can also use this type of tool.
Any other social media
Check any other social media to see how others would view your profile. Sometimes it can help to view your profile from a friend’s machine. Some sites to check are:
- Dating sites – Make sure that you aren’t recognizable from your profile. This is true for ‘innocent’ sites as well as some of the more bawdy sites.
- Any other site where you participate and are active
5. Keep an eye on the jobs being advertised in your field.
If you continually see an ad for “Full Stack Web Developer for the Acme Company”, that could be a red flag. Either that job is phony or they are losing employees as fast as they hire them. By checking in regularly you will spot patterns.
6. Search for yourself in the search engines.
Some recruiters and hiring managers will ‘Google’ prospective employees. If your name is common, perhaps “John Smith”, then the noise to signal ratio is very high. You can hide in the crowd. This can be good or bad. On the other hand, if you have a name like mine, Chris Mendla, then you are more easily found. Try variations on your name and see what shows. If you are on Google, check All, images, videos and news. Try different variations on your name: Chris Mendla, Christopher Mendla, Christopher G. Mendla etc.
If something embarrassing shows up on the first page you can decide if you want to try to bump it down. One way to do this is to make sure that you have a lot of ‘web presence’. For example, posting questions to support boards under your own name will often show up in the search results for your name.
7. Be sure to have personal contact information for your true friends at work.
If you have colleagues that you trust, be sure you get their personal email and phone numbers. One thing to be careful with today with all of the news about sexual harassment is to make sure that there is no hint of wanting the contacts for unprofessional purposes.
8. Keep tabs on your credit score
Check your credit and credit score regularly. If there are negative entries that don’t belong, correct them as soon as you can. Many companies will run a credit check. If the position you are seeking requires a background investigation, the company will check your credit.
There are free credit checking sites such as Credit Karma. You can even get regular emails notifying you about changes to your credit. This might also help spot identity theft.
9. Connect with colleagues through LinkedIn
If you don’t want to ask people for their personal contact information, consider connecting with them via LinkedIn. This will give you the ability to contact people inside the company should you leave. Yes, you could contact them at their company email but that is not private. Also, many companies demand that you return all contact information when you leave or, in some cases, they will remotely wipe your phone.
If you are dealing with vendors or customers, consider connecting with them through LinkedIn. In many cases you will be subject to a non compete clause but you can most likely contact those people for references.
NOTE – if you do this, be very careful if you go active in a job search while employed. Your LinkedIn connections might be able to see you go active.
If you have been in contact with recruiters as part of getting hired for your current position, keep their contact information. Consider sending a quick ‘remember me’ email every six months.
10. Constantly document your achievements.
Keep a running record of your achievements that is NOT on your work computer. As stated above, you should be constantly updating your online profiles. Many of the job boards will ask you for a list of your skills.
Also, when you are working on your resume it is helpful to be able to provide something concrete such as “I trained 383 employees in the new payroll system”
11. Make sure that you have contact information for key people at your company.
Once you leave an organization, you know longer have access to the internal company directory. There will be times when you need that information such as:
- References for jobs or background checks. They will often ask for the name, mailing address, phone and email of your supervisor.
- Personnel. You will need to be in touch for payroll issues, COBRA and possibly other issues.
- The CEO. I had a situation with my former employer where my health insurance was denied by a pharmacy. They were in between HR directors. I called the CEO personally. He was on vacation in the islands at the time but he took the call and promised me he’d get someone on it immediately. He did.
- Keep a copy of the employee handbook.
Many companies will demand that you return all materials which often includes the handbook. However, if you were wrongly terminated, a copy of the handbook would be invaluable, especially if you seek an attorney. You have to be careful how you do this though.
12. Set a Google alert for the name of your company and perhaps your manager.
You should set an alert in Google Alerts for you current company. Configure the alert for daily updates. In many cases, if your current position is being advertised, you might get an early heads up. It will also help you keep up with what your company is doing. You could also set up alerts such as “Web Developer Philadelphia” to keep tabs on open positions.
13. Prepare financially and personally.
To say that suddenly finding yourself unemployed can have a negative impact on your finances is an understatement. Think ahead and try to plan. Some things to consider are:
You need to know the rules for unemployment compensation. For example, if you are a Pennsylvania resident working in New Jersey, you need to work for 18 months, I believe, before you are eligible to file an unemployment claim. That could be devastating. However, if you previously held a position in Pennsylvania, then you may be able to collect unemployment based on your previous employer.
You should be eligible for COBRA or a continuation of your insurance. However, there are a couple of things to consider.
- The cost will be the total cost plus an administrative fee.
- In most cases, you can’t downgrade your plan upon termination. If you pick an expensive plan and are terminated or quit, you are faced with high payments.
14. Plan for what you would do if you are terminated.
It isn’t pleasant to think about, but running through the scenario in case it does happen leaves you much more prepared to handle it.
- Stay calm.
- Get anything you can in writing.
- Document who was at the meeting when you were terminated.
- Ask for a severance package especially if they ask you to sign any documents.
- Ask about Cobra and if you intend to pursue Cobra state your intentions clearly and document them in writing.
- Research employment attorneys beforehand so that you are prepared in the event you are terminated unfairly.
- Make sure that you get all of your personal possessions.
- Use your time off judiciously. If you think you might lose your position or if you are planning on leaving, plan how to use your leave. Many companies today take the insane position of no vacation in the first year and perhaps 1-2 weeks in the second. Make sure you are up to date with your dental, health and household issues. Leave time for job searching.
- Many employers will wipe YOUR PERSONAL PHONE if you have installed exchange. This would mean that you would need to rebuild your phone just when you need it for a job search. In addition, you might lose valuable personal information.
- Make sure that you have not given consent to your employer to wipe your personal phone
- Have a plan to disable phone and wifi data and immediately shut off your phone
- Make sure that your phone and it’s data are constantly being backed up.
It is essential to plan for your job search while you are employed.
- Day 192 of my Great Job Search
- Ten things to do to get the most out of Networking when job hunting.
- Why you should NOT send your resume to every recruiter who sends an email about a position
- Create a resume infographic with vizualize.me
- Two things you might not want to share with recruiters.
- 3 Things you should have if you are pursuing a career in development.
- Day 200 of my Great Job Search –
- The Great Job Search Saga – Day 184 – Some lessons learned