Let’s hope the encouraging news about the economy from the past few weeks is a true harbinger of things to come. The job market looks like it might be bouncing back a little bit, but millions of us will remain out of work well into 2010. Over the past year, we (BPI group) have literally worked with thousands of clients, many of whom landed new jobs, and we learned that a job search – whether short or protracted – can teach us all two extremely valuable life and career management lessons.
1. Build Your Network BEFORE You Need Your Network. That’s not a terribly original phrase, but it’s a great one. Networking is the secret to landing new opportunities. Of the thousands of successful searches, only a small handful involved job offers found outside connections, contacts, etc., networking.
The real lesson to be learned, however, isn’t that networking can help you land a job. It’s that a vibrant, active network is a critical career management resource. So, as the New Year unfolds, try to do the following:
• Contact each member your network and reconnect in some way. It can be as simple as a “Happy New Year” status update, but even better would be a personalized note to really key members of your network. Remember – it’s about relationships, so make sure you are in touch with friends and colleagues during this hectic holiday season.
• Make sure you are connecting at Linked In, Facebook and Twitter with everyone you meet at holiday receptions, parties, etc.
• As you make new contacts – keep the lines of communication open!
2. The second great lesson from the job search is the critical important of maintaining current market ready skills. Alan Greenspan was on Meet the Press Sunday December, 12th, and he expressed concern about those who have been out of work for a year or so. He said they are in danger of losing the skills needed to make a successful re-entry into the labor force. He’s right. In fact, we’ve seen quite a number of people who kept their skills at level needed for their past jobs, but not for their next jobs.
In 2010 and beyond, we strongly encourage everyone to stay on top of technology and communications developments. It’s also critical to stay on top of developments in your chosen field. So – if you are a graphic artist how well do you know Flash or Dreamweaver? If the answer is no – your skills are likely behind the times. So – what’s happening in your field? Are you ready for the latest and greatest in your profession?
Hopefully, 2010 will be a great year for you. Make it a truly transformational year for your career by building, expanding and maintaining your network and learning new skills.