Most people wait to start looking for a new job until they need one. They don’t launch their searches until they’ve been fired or they hate their current job so much that they’re ready to quit.
Does this sound familiar? The problem is, if you wait to look for a job until you need a job, you’ve probably waited too long. The chance that you’ll find a job on just the day you need it is low.
So, what can you do about this problem? I recommend what I like to call “continuous interviewing.” That is: Always be networking, always keep your eyes open for interesting job opportunities, and always be open to interviews.
Being in a state of continuous interviewing will keep you attuned to the latest developments in your industry. It will also allow you to take your time considering opportunities until you find the one that fits. Continuous interviewing is a proactive approach, rather than a reactive approach. If you wait until you need a job, your choices will be slim; if you always keep your eyes open for opportunities, you will have many options available.
I’m sure continuous interviewing sounds like a lot of work — and it is. But it’s worth it because continuous interviewing allows you to make better decisions about your future. Plus, it’s not all that different from a traditional job search. You could either devote half an hour a week to continuous interviewing, or you can spend 25+ hours looking for a job in a short period of time. You’re spending a similar amount of time either way — it’s just divided up differently.
How can you get started with continuous interviewing? The next time a headhunter calls you to ask if you’re interested in a new job, say yes. Talking to a recruiter doesn’t mean that you have to say yes. If the role turns out not to be a good fit, you can decline it. A conversation with a recruiter is simply that: a conversation.
Visit job boards and set up job alerts for your target roles. This way, you’ll be notified by email when companies in your area are looking for people like you. Use Glassdoor’s salary calculator to keep an eye on your salary compared to others in your area. Keep your resume up to date, and adjust your LinkedIn profile to match.
Once you’ve taken these simple steps, focus on networking. The more relationships you build with people in your field, the more likely it is that one of them will think of you when something comes along.
Continuous interviewing puts you back in the driver’s seat. It allows you to find the right job for yourself at just the right time.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.