Contributed by Caroline Ceniza-Levine of SixFigureStart
A lot of jobseekers get caught up following one lead at a time. Then, if that lead doesn’t work out, their job search starts from the very beginning all over again. For employed jobseekers, this same phenomenon is present with people who focus solely on their current role without maintaining ties to other departments, to colleagues outside the company or to colleagues in different industries. Then, if something happens to that current job, the once gainfully employed person is caught unawares. In both cases, there is a loss of momentum that negatively impacts the job search and career. Here’s how to maintain career momentum:
Manage multiple leads simultaneously. Even if you have a job, be aware of opportunities outside your department, outside the company and outside the industry. Read trade publications. Join professional groups. For jobseekers, always have several leads in the works, even if you’re confident your current search is going well. Make the number of leads you are juggling an important metric in gauging the health of your career and job search. Quantity matters here.
Schedule time to regularly grow and maintain your network. You can’t cram networking, like you can cram a Powerpoint or a proposal. By the time you realize you need a strong network it is too late to cultivate it. Instead, build networking deliberately into your calendar. Take your lunch break and actually have lunch with people. Block out one hour per week to grow your network by sending out follow up emails to new contacts you have met in the last few weeks. Block out one hour per week to maintain your network by emailing friends and colleagues that you are not in contact with on a daily basis.
Make change in itself a goal. If you are happily employed, update your resume every few months anyway to see what is new. If you don’t have anything new to report, this is a red flag that you are stagnating. You don’t need a title change or new responsibilities but you should have new projects and accomplishments. For the jobseeker, your search may take several months (or sometimes years if it’s an elaborate career change). You need to show growth and progress along the way – new learning, new ideas. You should not be doing the same thing now that you were doing six months ago. Having multiple leads and a growing network will help because these naturally infuse change. But proactively learn new skills and attempt new projects as well.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart, a career coaching firm comprised exclusively of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Prior to launching SixFigureStart, Caroline recruited for Accenture, Booz Allen, Citigroup, Disney ABC, Oliver Wyman, Time Inc, TV Guide and others. You can reach Caroline at email@example.com.