There once was a time when the job search was a rare circumstance. Professionals landed jobs with big-time companies straight out of college, polished industry skills by climbing the ranks within those companies, and eventually retired from the same companies after sitting pretty in corner offices. My, how times have changed.
According to Businessweek, the average American now changes jobs once every three years, and professionals under the age of 30 change jobs once a year. Professionals leaving companies may do so in search of better benefits or because they’re interested in making a career change. But in many cases, like Yahoo’s mass layoff of 2,000 of its workers back in April and Cisco’s recent announcement of 1,300 cuts, professionals aren’t leaving companies on their own free will.
It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re secure in your job, and if you ever are laid off, you’d be able to recover by finding a new job quickly. But unless you’ve been brushing up on the required knowledge of your field daily, you’ll be in for a rude awakening if you’re ever forced into a career change.
In a recent post on Forbes, Paul B. Brown estimates that, with information doubling every 18 months, professionals forced to make a career change need to spend 1,000 hours retraining to prepare for another job. The time spent reworking cover letters, sending out resumes and networking is not included in his estimation.
Today’s job market is just too uncertain for professionals to sit back and relax in their cubicles. Hungry young professionals are entering their industries every day with fresh knowledge, boundless energy, and a strong drive to succeed. To stay afloat in your industry and be prepared if forced into a career change, you must continually refine your skills and keep an eye out for new opportunities.
Here are a few ways you can keep your job search active and keep your industry skills fresh in case you’re forced to make a career change.
Pursue Company Training Opportunities
While you’re still with your company, research training opportunities it provides for employees to keep skills fresh. Companies often require or suggest its employees attend training seminars or industry conferences. Some even promote industry webinars or online training courses employees may attend during or after hours. Attend or enroll in as many training opportunities your company provides as you can. Your initiative may even grab upper management’s attention, making your job a little more secure.
Read Industry Literature
Job seekers know from interviews that hiring managers often ask, “What have you read lately?” Hiring managers don’t want to hear that US Weekly is your favorite celebrity tabloid magazine or you, like the English hotel The Damson Dene Hotel, think copies of Fifty Shades of Grey should replace Bibles on all nightstands. They want to know what industry literature you’re reading to stay current with trends and technologies. To be prepared for a forced career change, subscribe to trade magazines and influential industry bloggers’ posts. Keeping up with current events is also a must in every industry.
Join a Professional Group
Every industry has groups or societies of professionals who meet and discuss what’s happening within the industry. If you’re more of a social butterfly than a quiet reader, these groups offer a great way to get the required knowledge you need while fulfilling your desire to meet new people. Professional groups are also a great way to expand your network, which is an essential tool in today’s job search.
Re-enroll in School
If your current company doesn’t offer training opportunities and you’ve fallen dangerously behind in industry-required knowledge, perhaps it’s time to go back to the classroom. Though the prices of higher education are soaring, the good news is that you’re not changing industry sectors, so you’ll only need to enroll in a few evening courses instead of working toward a full degree. The cost of a few additional college courses is a small price to pay compared to a few year’s unemployment.
No matter your employment status, your job search is never over. Keeping abreast of required industry knowledge is essential in an uncertain job market. Professionals who prepare themselves for a forced career change while employed will be better prepared for the job search if ever faced with it.
How do you prepare for a career change? Share your tips with us!
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