People rarely stay at the same company for the length of their career anymore. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of January 2012 college graduates 25-34 yrs old spend a median of 3.1 years at an employer. Workers are changing jobs every few years and sites such as linkedin make it even easier to always be casually job hunting. It seems like we are always, at least casually, job hunting. To keep your options open without doing a full job hunt, you can keep your professional contacts and keep your online presence current.
Often, you can hear about good opportunities in your field from a colleague. Make sure to keep in contact with previous coworkers and managers. Sending an email to catch up every few months or once a year is a good idea. It’s better to keep the lines of communication open and not only contact people when you are actively job hunting and want something from them. When using social media, you should make a point to send a personal message to people. General updates to your account do not make quite the same impact as sending a direct, personal message. If you have left coworkers at a previous company, chances are in a year or two they will have moved on too and may hear of openings at their new company. Former coworkers may also be able pass along job prospects they have heard about it from their other contacts as well.
Having a professional online presence with your social media accounts can allow headhunters and HR departments to get in touch with you easily without you pursuing a specific job or company.
Make sure to keep any information about your career up to date-do not keep your job title from 2 promotions ago as your current title and add any skills or training as you gain them. Any updates or comments should be kept professional-do not give anyone a reason not to take a second look at you. Keep in mind that your current manager and coworkers may be looking at you online as well, so if your plan is to quietly or casually job hunt make sure to not be too obvious about looking with your social media accounts. Do not make updates on job hunting or listing reasons why to leave your current position.
If you are contacted by a headhunter or recruiter, check on either that person or the company before responding. How did they hear of you? Were you recommended by a former coworker or friend? Did they just find you by searching key words on a site? Most importantly, make sure you are genuinely interested in the opportunity before pursuing it. Take stock of how you feel about your current position and compensation and your possible future at your current company.
With most people changing companies every years, and most people keeping their eyes open for new opportunities, if not outright job hunting, you should make it easy to hear about interesting job prospects.
This article was written by Sara Stellfox. After working in contract and pharmaceutical laboratories, Sara changed her career path and is now a free lance writer and chemistry instructor at the City Colleges of Chicago.