JUST IN CASE
Even as you make yourself invaluable at your company, there are some things you should still be doing to prepare for your next job.
Keep your résumé up to date: Don't wait until you're out on your butt to dust it off. Did you just attend a company-mandated skills seminar or pull in a huge account? Update that bad boy! While you’re at it, create a few tailored versions for different types of positions—especially if you have a varied job history. Most important, check your humility at the door. “Never be afraid of making powerful statements about your achievements," Hernandez says. “Recruiters want to read about your contributions.”
Reach forward and back: Now is also the time to secure both a mentor and a mentee within your company. Mentors can help you avoid the rickety rungs on the career ladder, and Viscusi notes that fostering new talent not only improves employee retention (a huge cash-saver), but it also increases your support base (a huge job-saver).
Network like a madwoman: "Head-hunters are generally more interested in happily employed candidates that come highly referred by a credible source than individuals who are sending in a résumé," Hernandez says. But this doesn’t mean you can join five professional organizations and wait for the offers to roll in; you’ve got to be an active participant to make a network work for you. “Then schedule informational interviews to get a foot in the door,” Viscusi says.
Establish your brand: Every time you speak up in a meeting or send an e-mail, you’re cementing your brand. So doesn’t it make sense to capitalize on it? First, figure out what you want to project: Write your own one-paragraph biography and see what emerges as
your “thing.” Got it? Now offer to speak on your area of expertise at the local chamber of commerce, volunteer for panels at professional organization conventions, blog about it, self-publish a book about it—whatever it takes. Get your name out there and you’ll become more attractive to employers (including your current one). You also need to be cognizant of things that work against your brand: "Clean up your Facebook and MySpace pages!" Viscusi says. "No one needs to know how many tequila shots you had at last Friday’s party."