Over the years I’ve chatted with a bunch of job seekers. I’ve talked to executives who have gotten laid off with a nice severance package that gives them income for three, six, sometimes twelve months.
How nice would that be?
Here’s the message I hear from them (and some others, who have a healthy savings account): I will start my job search right before my severance runs out.
They choose to delay their job search while they have income because, why not?
I know that you are burned out from working what seems like around-the-clock, seven days a week.
I know that you welcome a break from working in a fast-paced environment with lots of pressure.
I realize you are ready to reconnect with your family, who you haven’t had time to connect with for many years.
I know what it’s like to feel like you can finally relax, even go on a real vacation where you aren’t bothered with emails and calls.
I get it.
And sure, if you want to take months off, especially because you’ve earned it, or you deserve it, then do it.
But what does this really look like? Will you do anything for your career while you are taking time off and postponing your job search?
Fine, don’t apply to jobs online. But please, please do the things I list below. Not because Jason Alba told you so, but because I’ve seen too many people regret their choice to postpone their job search, and then go through difficult months of no income.
Sign up for job alerts. In my experience LinkedIn alerts are the best, and most applicable, to higher-level professionals. Even if you don’t apply to any of them, just watching what positions come through, and what companies are hiring, will be helpful as you get your mind ready for a job search.
Have lunches or breakfasts with people. This is networking… connecting with individuals one-on-one. Not as a job seeker, but as two professionals, two colleagues. This is your chance to learn more about their company, their industry, their career, etc. It’s a chance for them to learn more about you. These breakfasts should be low-stress but high return. What’s the return? Strengthening professional relationships. In a few months, when you are ready to really start your job search, you’ll likely get value out of having stronger professional relationships. I would try to do this at least once a week.
Sharpen your saw. Remember when you finished school and you could finally read the books you wanted to? This is a repeat of that. Pull out those books that you’ve heard about and have always wanted to catch up on, but never had the time. There are plenty to choose from, classics like 7 Habits and Good to Great and Win Friends and Influence People, newish books like 4-Hour Workweek and eMyth (I know, they aren’t so new), or any books you’ve heard people you’ve worked with talk about. Do light reading, heavy reading, industry reading… use this as a time to improve yourself.
Sharpen your saw, Part II. Why not spend a month watching my soft skill and professional development courses on Pluralsight? Becoming a Better Listener, how to mentor (both as a mentor and a mentee), management skills, leadership skills, communication skills, etc. Whether you learn from my courses or other courses, take time to improve YOU.
Work on your personal marketing. Learn about and work on your brand, your branding statement(s), your resume(s), your LinkedIn Profile, your website, your business cards, etc. You’ll probably want to work with a professional on these things… it’s really hard to do this about and by yourself, and at your level you have too much to lose if you delay landing a job past the point you had planned. Why don’t you take time now, when you aren’t in a rush, to have all of this prepared?
Perhaps there are other things you should do… my message is to do what you have planned: relax, reconnect, etc. But also don’t neglect YOU and your career during this period.
When you finally do jump into the job search you might just be shocked at how hard it is, and how long it takes.