We all know the virtues of planning ahead. We put money into our retirement accounts, contribute to our kids' college funds and exercise to keep ourselves healthy. Yet, how often do you think about preparing for your next job?
Waiting until you're desperate to look for a job is like waiting until you're house is in foreclosure to start saving for a rainy day. The time to start your job hunt is now, when you're not looking.
The proactive job hunt is different than a regular job hunt. It's relaxed and informal, but it also has your end goal in mind: finding a better job.
Here are five ways to launch your search for a new job before you need one.
Becoming a job investigator. Pretty much everyone you meet has a job. So, take the time to ask them about theirs. Find out what they do, how they do it and if they like it. Ask questions about their company. Not only will it help you discover new career options, it will give you plenty of small talk fodder for all those awkward social situations you dread.
Prove yourself. There are so many non-work opportunities in which to prove your value as a potential employee. Whether it's through religious or civic organizations, through interactions with your kids' school or among the friends of friends, you can prove yourself to be a reliable hard worker by how you interact with different people and what you volunteer to do. Make sure you leave all the people you deal with with the impression that you're a good person to have on their team. You never know when they might know someone looking to hire a new employee.
Be choosy. Even if you're already employed, you should make a habit of looking at job listings. When you see one you're really interested in, send your resume. There's no harm in looking around and you just might find the job you're dreaming of while you still have the one that pays the bills.
Think. Use your time in your current job to observe what it is about your job that you don't like. Often it's the things you won't notice from the outside that drive you crazy at work. Make a list of those things and be ready to consult it the next time you go on a job interview.
Perfect your resume. Most people wait until they are looking for a job to start working on their resume. There's nothing worse than being in a panic and trying to remember the last name of a boss you had 20 years ago. Use your non-job search time to get your resume in good shape. And, remember, as your current job changes, make sure to update your resume to reflect your new responsibilities.