I have been working with experienced professionals and executive leaders in the tech space for over 15 years. And I worked in tech for 15+ years before that. People make the same big job search mistake today as they did 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and 30+ years ago. And I guarantee it’s not what you think it is.
The biggest mistake I have witnessed smart, experienced professionals and accomplished leaders make in their job search is this: thinking about your job search only when it’s time to change jobs or companies.
This job search mistake is costly:
- You find yourself at an executive level without an executive-level network
- You’re unprepared for sudden terminations, lay-offs, or re-organizations
- You lose touch with the marketplace, and you are not current with market trends and needs
- Your job search skills get rusty, and you are not ready to compete with other job seekers
In this world of rapid change, as an executive leader, you do not want to be caught unprepared.
You need to take charge, develop your vision, your career strategy and plan so that:
- You always have a network of leaders ready to support you
- You are always ready for your next opportunity
- You have a reputation as a leader in demand
Great news! There are many parts of a successful job search that are easier if they’re done on an ongoing basis. These include:
- Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated and current. Add accomplishments and skills to your profile as you gain them rather than trying to remember them months or possibly years later. Let LinkedIn reflect who you are and how you contribute in real-time, so those looking for your skills and abilities can find you and connect you to opportunities of interest. If you make a habit of updating your LinkedIn profile as your career develops, no one will suspect you of job hunting when you’re ready because there will be no “flurry of updates” on LinkedIn to trigger concern.
- Keeping your resume fresh. Like your LinkedIn profile, it’s important to keep your resume updated and relevant. When you update your LinkedIn profile, ask yourself if this item should be added to your resume and vice versa. Yes, for now, and the foreseeable future, resumes are still necessary for a job search. So don’t let it lag behind and cause you to miss out on a surprise opportunity.
- Networking online and offline. If you haven’t already done so, attend events. Meetups, conferences, and industry groups are all excellent ways to meet like-minded individuals. Professional associations are often filled with members who are looking for talent. Joining a local chapter of a national organization can give you access to a broader pool of potential contacts. Volunteer for a leadership role to connect with other leaders and to be seen as a leader. You want to keep your network fresh and growing with folks at and above your level because the older and more experienced you get, you’ll start losing connections to retirement.
- Reaching out to and following up with connections regularly. Networking and nurturing your network are activities that reap the best results with a consistent effort. Incorporate outreach into your weekly schedule. Don’t wait for others to contact you. Instead, stay top of mind by showing interest in their accomplishments and projects.
- Being open to new ideas. Don’t limit yourself to traditional job searches. Consider seeking out jobs like freelancing, consulting, fractional gigs, and entrepreneurship. As you move forward in your career, you will find that your needs and interests evolve. Don’t let this discourage you from continuing to seek opportunities.
Keep in mind that if you are always preparing for your next job search as part of your career strategy, you will never have to worry about your boss or your peers finding out you’re looking. And, you will create more opportunities in every job market. Your job is not a marriage commitment. In fact, most employers in most states are at-will employers, which means they have made zero commitment to you and your career. Your career is your responsibility, not theirs. So take charge, develop your vision, your career strategy and plan.
Do this, and all future searches for the perfect fit next role will be short, fast, and easy because you have the right skills in the job search, networking, and interviewing to confidently land the right job for you!