It’s June, the halfway point of the year. Whether your job is going great or going nowhere, right now is an ideal time to think about your career prospects, where you are and where you want to go. As Alec Baldwin’s character in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” said, “ABC – Always Be Closing” – except in this case, ABC stands for “Always Be Candidating.”
The workplace version of ABC means you should consistently think about yourself as a potential job candidate, even if you’re not actively looking at all. Situations can change quickly. There’s a good chance you might even become an independent contractor at some point in your career. In fact, it’s increasingly likely you’ll be a member of the growing gig economy. A survey by Intuit found that 43 percent of American workers are forecast to be gig economy participants by 2020.
Since a job switch is almost definitely in your future, here are five ways to make sure you’re always ready to make the most of a new opportunity.
1. Don’t be a stranger (to your references) – Stay in touch with the folks you will rely on to vouch for you when the time comes to change jobs. It’s much easier to update a warm relationship than to try and jump start a cold one. A friendly email or check-in call every so often can go a long way.
2. Update your resume (and don’t keep it to yourself) – Maybe you earned a promotion or completed an exciting new project. Dust off the resume and add those key points. And while you’re at it – make sure to share the good news with that core group of contacts you’d likely use as job references. Again – this is another way to stay in front of the important contacts you’ll need to complete a successful job search. (Just don’t accidentally leave a copy of your resume on the office printer.)
3. Update your LinkedIn page (but don’t assume anyone is reading it) – LinkedIn is a must-have for any professional these days. You’ll definitely want to make sure your page is fully updated. But aside from recruiters who are actively trolling the platform, don’t expect that just because you tuned up your credentials, anyone in your network took note of them, much less committed them to memory. That’s what emails, phone calls and in-person meetings are for.
4. Cultivate new contacts at your current job (and strengthen existing ones) – Employers increasingly recognize that the best information about how someone will perform once they’re in a position comes from those who have actually worked with that person. Many jobs now require four or five references from candidates, so you’ll want to continually expand the universe of contacts you can draw upon. And employers don’t just want to talk with managers. They are interested in hearing from colleagues too. Co-workers have been firsthand witnesses to your soft skills like listening, empathy and teamwork, and employers that are focused on company culture want to hire people who “get it.”
5. Get active with passive (you might be surprised) – In the spirit of ABC, remember that you should always at least be passively looking for a better job. LinkedIn is one way to ensure you’re keeping your name out there. And online platforms allow candidates’ job references to make their names available to employers to which they’ve provided a reference for someone else. Employers find that a good candidate’s references are often strong job candidates themselves – and in a tighter job market, employers are increasingly digging into these types of passive candidate platforms. Who knows? You may find your next great job simply by being a reference for somebody else.
So find a bit of quiet time to assess where you are professionally during the less-busy summer months. Use some of that time to reconnect with your references, keep them informed and get to know new contacts who might help you on your job search in the future (even if you aren’t actively looking right now). If you remember ABC, you’ll be several steps ahead of the game when the time comes to embark on the process of seeking a great new role.