The days of career-long job security are long gone. Even highly profitable and highly sought-after companies like Google have had layoffs.
An HR executive once described most layoffs as being done with an ax rather than a scalpel. In my experience, that is definitely true; unfortunately, who goes and who stays is more a matter of right-place-right-time than competence. So don’t assume that being a “top performer” will protect your job.
And remember the adage: the best defense is a great offense.
To a potential employer, you are much more attractive when still employed. The theory: you must be an acceptable employee or you would not be unemployed. So don’t wait for the pink slip: job hunt while you are employed. Here’s how:
1. Go Into “Stealth” Job Search Mode
Look for a job without making your search visible to anyone you work with, particularly management. Don’t announce your availability on LinkedIn or anywhere else in social media.
Don’t job search from your place of work, including refraining from using your work computer to browse Indeed job postings, update your resume, or to send email about your job search to anyone. Use of computer networks is very easy to track, so your browsing and email usage will be visible to anyone who might be watching. And, being discovered in a job search usually results in a quick job loss.
2. Establish Personal Electronic Communications
You’ve relied on your work email and direct line, and perhaps the company-issued smartphone, for business communications. Don’t let that roll over to your job search.
Get you own smartphone. Don’t have people call you on your current work numbers (see # 1 above) or send you email to your work email address. Get an email address from gmail, your home Internet provider; perhaps your college or university offers free email accounts for alumni.
Also, be sure to set up a computer or tablet at home for your job search so you aren’t stuck with using your employer’s computer and printers for your job search (quick way to blow your cover and lose your job).
3. Carefully Increase Your LinkedIn Visibility
Your LinkedIn Profile is a “live” resume that is very important to recruiters and potential employers. They will use it to verify the contents of your resume. Don’t go “from zero to 100 MPH” on LinkedIn in one day, but do become more active and visible.
Be sure that your LinkedIn Profile is complete. Expand your summary to include quantified accomplishments as long as you don’t compromise your employer’s confidential information, like plans, product or service specifications, the names of customers or clients, financial information. Grow your network of contacts with a focus on recruiters and employees of your target future employers.
Also, pick up your activity in LinkedIn Groups. You can join up to fifty; each offer both the opportunity for visibility (to recruiters and potential employers) as well as a method to communicate (people in Groups can send each other InMail even if they are not connected) with your network discretely.
4. Choose a Few Target Employers
Since you still have a paycheck, take time to look around to see where you might like to work next. That company down the road or in the next town. Perhaps a supplier or client company. Maybe a competitor (careful!).
Research those employers. Use Google, LinkedIn, and your other networks. Follow those employers on LinkedIn, if they have “company profiles.” Sign up for their job tweets (using your personally-owned, non-work computer).
5. Expand Your Face-to-face Personal Networking Activities
Networking doesn’t require you to spend hours in large rooms filled with strangers (although they can be useful). Reach out to people you have worked with in the past, particularly those who have left your current employer for better opportunities.
Schedule “informational interviews” to learn more about the employers on your target list – maybe some on the list should be removed and others should be added.
Give as much – or more – help as you receive. Build your “karma balance” by helping others.
Your job search will be much easier if you are job hunting while employed. So, if you see the signs that a layoff is coming, ramp up your job search so you can leave before the ax falls on you.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.