In order to get the job you want, you have to protect the job you have.
If you’ve been in the job hunt while you’re out of work, you know how hard it can be to sustain the confidence, enthusiasm and momentum you need to land the position that’s right for you. That’s why I believe that those who are currently employed have a great opportunity. For this audience, in order to get the job you want, you have to protect the job you have.
I call this “bulletproofing your job,” and here’s how it works: First, you have to recognize that your job is your most important asset and your No. 1 priority should be to protect it. Next, you have to assess how well you’re accomplishing the following simple tasks.
This means making sure your boss and your colleagues know who you are and are aware of your value to the team. If they don’t know you, I promise you’re really easy to let go. You can make yourself known in a variety of effective ways, from how you dress to how you behave in meetings to who you know throughout the company outside of your immediate circle. It’s all about creating a positive and memorable perception of yourself.
This means making your boss’ life easier and not being what I call a High Maintenance Employee. You know who I’m talking about: the person who’s always complaining or getting into dustups with co-workers or otherwise being a giant pain. Layoff time is the perfect chance for the gripers or misbehavers to be shown the door. Same goes for the office gossip or the office Machiavelli. I always say, “Know the office gossip; just don’t be the office gossip.” Understand the politics in your office, but don’t be known as someone who plays office politics. These are some of the ways to stay off your boss’ “troublemaker radar.”
This seems so obvious. Just do your job, right? Wrong. Do your job, and then do some more. The bigger the role you play in the important stuff that’s getting done at work, the more indispensable you become to your boss. There are countless ways to go above and beyond. For example, show initiative; don’t be afraid to raise your hand and say, “I’ll do it.” Volunteer to train or mentor colleagues. Or try to find ways to add dollar value. In times like these, I would never fire someone who’s putting money in my pocket.
Finally, and this is the crux of the Bulletproof Doctrine for an active job hunter…
You can’t possibly find the job you’re looking for if you’re not ready to turn on a dime to make it happen. This means your resume needs to be sharp and up-to-the-minute current. At all times. It also means your network needs to be primed to support your efforts. At all times. To that end you should always be improving your networking skills and making yourself available to help the people in your network. When you’re known as someone who’s always eager to help, others will be just as eager to help you when the time comes.
Staying visibly, continuously engaged with your peers by being involved in professional organizations or attending conferences also keeps your profile high and your radar finely tuned. Giving presentations and writing articles of interest to colleagues in your field can also support your efforts.
Being ready also means being prepared for every eventuality. Having money in the bank and a ready resume gives you the confidence that creates a powerful force field around you. That confidence is extremely attractive, and it makes you seem more valuable than someone without it.
The bulletproof bottom line: You can use the job you have to get the job you want. So get busy protecting that job right now.