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Ten Ways to Prepare for an Emergency Job Search

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In a recent poll, 26 percent of respondents said they had already been laid off, 37 percent are concerned about being laid off, and 33 percent are not at all concerned about being laid off. Given the major shifts in corporate recruiting - it's a buyer's market now - this is a great time to focus on preparing in case you should need to find a job quickly.

These 10 tips are good habits to get into to manage your career even in boom times. So even if you're one of the lucky ones who aren't concerned about being laid off, put the economy to work for you. Let it motivate you to get ready for an emergency job search.

Network everywhere you go, all the time. Attend networking events and meetings of professional associations. Keep up with your former coworkers, friends, and acquaintances. That way, if you need to ask for a referral, it won't be the first thing they hear from you after a long silence.

Check in with your "affinity groups." Colleges and universities have done a great job in building and enhancing their alumni databases. These are great resources for informational interviews, job openings, and potential business partners. Some companies have "alumni" groups as well.

Keep your resume current all the time. Every time you finish a project, receive an award, or get a promotion, it's time to revise. Post your resume on several sites. The big sites are good for volume, but don't forget sites that specialize in jobs in your geographic area and your industry. does both.

Research the value of your skills and experience on the talent market. The Salary Wizard is a great place to start.

Consider working with a headhunter. Especially if you're not conducting an active search, a headhunter can do a lot of the legwork for you in the background - but remember, headhunters are paid by the employer.

Dust off your references. When was the last time you spoke with your former boss? The boss before that? Do you have current contact information?

Put things in order at work. Make it easy for someone else to do your job if you should leave by organizing files, documenting processes, and cross-training people. Resolve any outstanding interpersonal conflicts to the extent possible, especially with people you hope to stay in touch with. You want to be remembered as a professional and a cherished colleague.

Contemplate your next move. Since you're not really looking - right? - you have time on your side. Do you want to stay in your industry? Are you looking for more risk, less risk, or the same? Would you be happier with a better job title and more responsibility at a smaller company, or better pay and the same amount of responsibility at a larger company?

Go for your dream job. If you're happy in your current job, it will make you more attractive to a potential new employer. So if you're looking but not really looking, investigate jobs that are a little bit of a stretch.

- Johanna Schlegel, Editor-in-Chief

Jan 2007
Communicationsemergency job searchEmploymentlaid

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