For most of our day-to-day, the last thing we think about is looking for a new career opportunity. Most of us don’t realize we’re looking for a job change until the right opportunity comes along and takes us by surprise. But when it does – and if you’re at the top of your game in a field as burgeoning as Supply Chain or Procurement – be ready, because opportunities can come at the most unexpected times and are gone in a flash. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your networking, personal branding and your job search materials before you find yourself having to use them. Know you can hit the ground running when the right opportunity comes along, you find yourself restructured unexpectedly, or when you get the itch to make a career change.
Here’s a quick reference list of some great basic habits to develop even if you’re in “passive” mode and are quite happy at your current job. Practice these tips starting today and you’ll save yourself lots of time and stress if and when you switch into “active” mode and start looking for a new job, or if a great opportunity arrives and you have to act quickly.
Always Keep Your Resume Up to Date:
This is the most obvious habit to get into, but it’s trickier than it looks. Keep it simple and update often. Don’t use anything overly fancy. A Microsoft Word document always works best. Updating a resume isn’t as easy as it seems, though. Keeping your resume up to date means making sure your resume is modern, easy to read and accomplishment based. Too short and you have nothing – too long you will drown the reader in text – two to three pages is best. Something which will catch the readers’ eye quickly is critical. A quick facts sidebar works well to draw out important details for the reader. Figure out which formatting you want to use. What’s a good design template for your field? Ask around in your network, do some research, go to Google for examples and most of all don’t assume that what worked a few years ago will still work today.
Get Some of Your Work Product into a Presentable State:
An Accomplishment Page is a fantastic tool. Have it accompany a resume and take it to a meeting/interview. It’s a snapshot of what ROI you bring to a prospective employer, and something that can really boost your prospects in an interview. Prospective employers often want to see analytics, case studies, snap shots of cost-saving initiatives or other non-confidential work product, to show them that you know what you’re doing. Often, candidates have to scramble to get their accomplishments and work product into a presentable state before an interview, because hiring managers want the detail. If you keep your best work on file, and have it already stripped of proprietary information so that you can send it to a new employer, you won’t have this problem, and you’ll be ready to put your best foot forward and have an advantage over other candidates.
Don’t Forget to Use the Phone to Keep Up Your Networking:
We read all kinds of stuff everyday that talks about how email and LinkedIn have replaced the telephone and personal engagement as a primary networking tool. The phone is still the best tool for getting things done. Engagement works. What does this mean if you’re still “passive” and not in job search mode? It means you need to keep your phone skills sharp so practice makes perfect. Pick up the phone as much as you can and use it to reach out to keep up with people in your network and have conversations. Lots of people (Gen Xers and Gen Yers for example) have gotten too comfortable with email and texting – to the point where the phone is intimidating. Perhaps it seems too raw, too confrontational. Don’t be one of these people, and you’ll have a smoother time if and when you activate a job search with these re-polished skills, because more and more companies are starting off with phone interviews.
Stay Visible on LinkedIn and other professional Social Media sites:
With that in mind, it’s also extremely important to buff up your social networking presence. The Internet is never a replacement for personal engagement and the phone because it doesn’t have the same urgency, but social media is still a huge networking tool – especially LinkedIn. The service has declined in some ways, but it’s still the premier social network for business. Think about your LinkedIn profile the same way you think about a new form of your resume. Use industry-specific keywords to enhance your exposure to many more fellow networkers, peers, and industry leaders in Supply Chain who could open up opportunities which you would have never even contemplated. And upload a business-appropriate picture. A profile with a picture gets way more attention than someone without one. The reality is that everyone checks out everyone on LinkedIn these days, so be sure to have a robust and intriguing profile that just makes you more professional. Beyond that, it’s more likely to get noticed by people in your network, and by recruiters (like us!) who might approach you with an opportunity you can’t resist.