Dear Matt: I have a job I'm happy with, but with a recession forecasted, my job security doesn't seem as strong because my industry is facing a slowdown. I don't want to get caught by surprise and suddenly be without a job and desperately seeking a new one. Do you have any advice on how to prepare for a job when I have a job, even one I like?
Matt: In today's job market, I am a firm believer you have to be thinking one step ahead. What I mean by that is, you always have to be thinking about what your next career move will be - whether you are happy, employed or unemployed.
The first step is to update your résumé. With an up-to-date résumé, you can start looking for opportunities that you would like to pursue - now or in the future. By looking for a job while you have a job you are likely to be more selective and consider pursuing the right opportunity - not just any opportunity because you are desperate.
What else can you do?
Here are some tips:
Look at the current openings in your industry - do you have the skills you need to get hired? What new technology are employers asking for? What educational background is needed? What has changed since you last looked for a job?
Send out some cover letters and résumés to jobs that interest you - are you getting any interview requests? If not, maybe it's time to set up a better job search plan or improve your résumé and cover letters.
Work your network and contacts: Tap former employers and supervisors, co-workers, association members and others who may know of opportunities or job leads.
Reassess your career goals: Do you want to stay in this industry or field? What else would you like to do? If you had the opportunity to pursue jobs in another field, do you have the skills to do that?
By planning ahead you also can start looking for career opportunities you want, not jobs you need.
It's also important to start thinking about what you would do if your boss came in one day and told you your job was eliminated. How would that affect you financially? What would it mean for your healthcare coverage? How would you make ends meet?
It's never easy to lose a job - but it's even harder when desperation sets in because you weren't prepared to lose your job.
Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has eight years of experience reporting on the employment industry. The first Sunday of each month this column will answer readers’ questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.