OK, Pop Quiz! When is the very best time to look for a job?
a) When you have a job (so don’t quit before you find a new one).
b) When you have time to devote to finding a job.
c) When you’re “ready” and focused to look.
d) Once your resume gets updated.
e) Only after two years in the same job.
f) None of the above.
The correct answer is (f) none of the above. The ideal time to look for your next job is the day you start a new job. If you’re like most professionals, you’re probably thinking “What? You mean I don’t get a break from the grind of looking for work? “Or maybe you’re thinking “Whoa, I have to learn my new job first – plus, my employer isn’t paying me to look for a new job.”
Logical thoughts, but they reflect some outdated and dangerous thinking. Outdated because getting hired is more and more about being plugged in at the right place and the right time and dangerous because managing your career is no one’s responsibility but yours.
Have you had the experience when you mention that you’re looking for work and in response, you receive sympathetic groans and cautious advice from others? Job searching falls into the category of horrible “best-to-be-avoided” experiences like root canals and public speaking. It’s human nature to only undertake a search when absolutely necessary, say when you lose your job or you’re so miserable you fantasize daily about just quitting. The problem is that you’re thinking of your job search like a crash diet.
Here’s how job searches are like crash diets. We know we need to lose weight or look for a new job, but life gets in the way. So we plod along, not doing anything about it, until its class reunion or career crisis time. Then, we find ourselves frantically trying to cram everything in — exercise/meal replacements and resume rewrites/networking — with little time for it to actually work.
We try shortcuts, and we set ourselves up for failure. If we could just stick with a more balanced and healthy lifestyle approach, we’d actually have less anxiety and stress.
Here are three ways to start your job search the day you start you next job:
1. Network internally.
Make it a point to get to know everyone you work with – not only what their role is in the organization, but a bit about their background and experience. You have the perfect excuse to do so when you’re first introduced to your new organization, so take full advantage.
As others introduce you around, send a follow-up to these hallway interactions, via a personalized LinkedIn invite. No suspicions will be raised if you connect with them on the front end while you’re getting integrated; it’s when you do this type of networking on the way out that people take notice. You’re a new hire, after all, so it doesn’t make sense that you’re using these connections to land a new job.
2. Announce your new position.
Let everyone in your social network know when you’ve landed a new gig. You can easily do this by updating your LinkedIn profile, but don’t overlook sending a quick note to people who helped you during your search. They should hear the news directly from you – not through some other source. It also conveys that you value your relationship with them if you share the good news with them immediately.
If you’re up for it, a great P.S. to your announcement can be an offer to serve as a resource for others who might be searching. Don’t be one of those professionals who go silent with their network once they landed a new job. Keep visible and continue to cultivate your network.
3. Volunteer in your networking groups.
Get active in a professional organization – especially if your new organization gives you access to a new industry. Don’t just show up to meetings, but take an active leadership role. Consider volunteering for the membership committee (especially if part of this committee’s role is to welcome new members) so you can introduce yourself to everyone on behalf of the organization (especially helpful if you’re shy in groups).
During the integration phase at your new job, while you’re getting to know your colleagues, find out what professional organizations they find helpful. Compile a list and start checking them out. Ask your colleague(s) if they wouldn’t mind having you come along as a guest to the next meeting.
Getting a jump on your job search by remaining visible is all it takes to ensure that If you find yourself “looking for work” in the future, you won’t have to go on a crash diet.