How-to Guide for sliding seamlessly into each career move

I was talking with someone the other day who was unbelievably unhappy and unfulfilled in her current job. She has been with the same company for 13 years.  Although she’s moved around and been promoted, she feels very stuck.  I asked her why she didn’t look for a new job. Her response was “The only thing that I hate worse than my current job is the thought of looking for a new one.”  That got me thinking……..Why are some people able to glide through their careers with ease?  They never get into a position where they have to make quick change.  They are never in desperate need of a new position.  Their careers simply move fluidly from one position to the next.

Bet you want to know how to do that, huh?

Take this quick yes/no survey:

  1. If I look at last week’s activity the only people I came into contact with were internal company employees or vendors.
  2. Evening networking events aren’t convenient for me and I’m too tired to attend even if I register.
  3. Meeting new people is hard for me because if they can’t help me today, then I think it’s a waste of time.
  4. I’m just too busy to take time for coffee meetings or lunches with people outside of my company.
  5. I only think about my next career move when I get frustrated at work or when I have a bad day.

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions then you are in danger of being forced to “look for a job” at some point in your future.  If you don’t want that to be you, then keep reading.  Here is my guide for sliding into your next position without “looking for a job.”

1. Nurture your network

What in the world does that actually mean?  It means stay in touch with former colleagues, congratulate them on milestones or job changes, and make sure you stay at least in their periphery even if you no longer work together on a daily basis.  Make a point to spend 1 hour a week combing thru LinkedIn for news on people you know – and people you should know.  Why: At some point your outreach to people you used to work with and interest in other people’s careers will bear fruit.  These are the people who you can ask advice of when you are thinking about your next strategic career play.  These are the people who are in front of you in the “virtual strategic career line.”  These are also that people that might have a job opening and (hopefully) think of you to fill that position before you would even apply.

2. Spend time with outsiders

Make a point of doing two lunch, coffee or happy hour meetings with vendors or people who don’t work at your company.  Maybe they are former colleagues, went to your alma mater, or are in a similar role to yours at another company.  An outside perspective of the world can really generate some creative juices in your head and open your eyes to new possibilities. Why: When all of your brain activity is dedicated to the very small sphere that is your current job you lose track of what’s going on in the market outside of your industry.  Maybe you have always wanted to work with people who are passionate about natural foods.  Perhaps working at a startup is a lifelong dream.  What better way to find out about other possibilities than to connect with people engaged in that area in person?  Broaden your insight into what potential alternative positions exist.  These are future strategic connections for you!  None of them will likely deliver immediate satisfaction, but they are people who are potential connections for your future.

3. Regain the learning energy

In my opinion, everyone should constantly look toward professional development.  I’m not talking about MBA stuff, although if you don’t have one then maybe you should consider it.  What I’m talking about is taking a course at CU or DU in the evening.  Maybe continuing education in your current field – maybe something completely outside your role.  There are really cool opportunities for learning and breaking up some of the grey matter that crusts around your normal routine.  You can even look toward online courses as an option.  However, I would prefer you get out and have face time with humans. Why: Once again, getting outside of your company can open new doors, engage new brain matter and excite new creativity.  You might meet your next boss, learn about a new company, or come up with your own brilliant idea to start a new venture.

4. Become a Thought Leader

This takes time and diligence. Thought leaders blog about their professional passions.  They are members who actively engage in their professional community and are always willing to have coffee with a student or emerging professional.  They seek out board positions with membership organizations where their excitement gets members involved. Why: Because thought leaders (those who earn that reputation) are top of mind when a company needs to grow, hire their next executive, or find out what’s really happening in the market.  Wouldn’t you like to be the one they call?

5. Pay it forward

Take the call from the recruiter looking for referrals and then follow through.  Make time to write a personal note to your new LinkedIn connections.  Reply to the email from the candidate who is interested in a position with your company.  Why: I am a firm believer in karma.  What you give out comes back to you tenfold.  Helping another person not only feels good, it also makes you memorable in their eyes.  You never know what career moves that other person will make, or where they will end up.  Your mentee could be your next boss, peer, or new hire.  That recruiter might think of you first next time they have the perfect new role.

The point is, people who never end up “looking for a job” don’t have to because the jobs come to them.  Rather than searching for a new opportunity, they are being sought after.  They have the opportunity to turn down positions that aren’t right.  Additionally, they get first crack at something exciting that they weren’t even actively looking for.  I am constantly amazed by the lengths that job seekers will go to in order to be noticed.  If the same energy were put into building and maintaining their brand, community engagement, and external network these same job seekers could skip the “job seeking” altogether and enjoy the career ride.

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