Everything is going great! You love the company you work for. Your manager respects you and treats you more than fairly. Your co-workers are supportive, and many look up to you. You also have the easiest commute you could hope for. Your IT career is taking off, and your future looks bright, right? What would happen if this all ended tomorrow? Would you know who to call, who’s hiring or where to find your next position? Thinking ahead and good planning can perpetuate your career success.
The IT recruiting consultants here at Eliassen Group have a unique vantage point. We hear the stories about careers getting sidetracked on a regular basis. You could say we’ve heard and seen it all. High flying agile consultants, IT staff, project managers and technical personnel – anyone of them could wake up one day to find their position has been eliminated. It happens every day. That’s when they call us to find out more about our open positions. With lay-offs, company mergers and swings in the economy, there is a lot of uncertainty out there when it comes to job security and company longevity. The time for laying the groundwork for your next position doesn’t start when you get laid off in a surprise restructuring; it starts when everything is going well - as in right now!
Won’t I run the risk of losing the job I love if I’m caught looking for a new one?
There’s a big difference between “looking” for a new job and “preparing” for a new job. To ensure an uninterrupted career path, many of the most successful IT consultants employ a number of strategies to ensure they can make a smooth transition if their current job situation changes. Here are some helpful high tech career tips for you to keep in mind:
Update your resume now
Don’t think about your resume as a document you only update when you’re hunting for a new position. Think of it as an ongoing short story that you hone and perfect throughout the year. Words come easier when you’re not under pressure. Make it a habit to keep notes about that special project or the training you conducted last month.
Describe the current position you hold now. What have you contributed to the company? Were you certified in any new skills or software programs? Seeing your career evolution and where you are today is a great way to assess where you want to take your career tomorrow.
Pre-screen and connect with IT Recruiters Today
Building a network of friends, co-workers, partners and even clients is a great way to spread your personal brand, but did you know staying in touch with a handful of IT recruiters can be even more powerful? Think about it. A trusted IT recruiter who already knows your professional background, future job preferences and high tech skill set can hit the ground running for you if you lose your job. Having a handful of recruiters you can call at the drop of a hat who know your background improves your chances of landing a new job more quickly no matter what happens in your career.
Social Networking on LinkedIn
It can be a daunting task to manage all your social media channels. Hands down, the one you want to focus on professionally is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is where business professionals gather to discuss and network with each other. It also offers a number of niche groups that you should join based on your technical skills and IT expertise. Agile professionals, project management, network managers – if you name it, there’s a group of folks just like you discussing the topics of the day online.
Even if you meet someone on a plane or out on the town, it doesn’t hurt to see if they’ll connect with you on LinkedIn. Despite the fact that someone may not work in the IT space, their brother or sister-in-law may. Make friends and post and share as much as you can. You never know who you may meet and how close to your area they may be.
Also, remember to nurture your online network. Spend a few minutes each week and reach out to one or two people who you may not have connected with in a while. That way, you’ll be top of mind should something come up and you’re looking for a new opportunity.
Not comfortable stepping into a conversation and introducing yourself to strangers? You’re not alone. It can be an intimidating experience for many. There is, however, no better way to make a lasting business connection than looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand. Meeting someone in your particular high tech field is an instant bond. You both already know you have something in common. Why not start there? Next, ask him or her about challenges in their current position. Be sure to ask who they work for and if you can have one on their cards. Someone handing you their card is, in most cases, is an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Look at that - you’ve killed two birds with one stone!
Take a Technical Class or Attend an IT Seminar
What technology is hot in your field right now? Would an Agile scrum master certification or a project manager training session be helpful in your next position? Do you think your current employer would pay for part or all of your training? In many cases, companies like to see their employees improve their skills. And perhaps you will end up staying at your current position and those technical skills will come in handy. Either way, adding to your technical skills makes you more attractive to current and future employers.
Someone once said, “the only constant in life is change.” If you’re happy in your job right now, that’s great! Enjoy it, but don’t make the mistake of resting on your laurels thinking things won’t change. Think of these tips as secrets in your back pocket that you do a little here and there throughout the year. Over time, you will have built a stronger network of contacts, a stronger resume and skills that will carry you through whatever life hands you. Preparing for the future through these easy steps is not only smart; it may help you come out ahead of those who haven’t adequately prepared for change.