Like most recruiters, I once wanted to be something else. In my case, I wanted to be a journalist. The first lesson I was taught as an aspiring reporter was to “report the story, don’t become the story.” However, if you spend as much time on LinkedIn as the average recruiter, you probably can’t help but wonder if you will soon become a major part of the story.
With nearly daily reports of companies letting go of employees or streamlining operations, as well as fellow recruiters and human resource professionals posting about their layoff experiences, you can’t help but be concerned about your own future.
A September LinkedIn study found that 47% of active job seekers stated they were concerned with their companies’ performance, up almost 10% from previous months. Combine that with all of the negative economic data circulating and confusing labor reports that seem to contradict themselves, and it’s worth asking: When should a recruiter start looking for a new (safer) job?
From someone who has been on both the downsized and doing the downsizing side of the fence, I think I can lend some perspective here.
Let’s suppose that you’re a good employee, you have never been written up, and you always get solid performance reviews. Even with all these factors in your favor, you still may be at risk of being laid off. Now, while most companies won’t flat-out tell you that if profits don’t improve then your job is at risk, there are usually clues. These signs may be as blunt as your company going on a hiring freeze, a “reprioritization” of roles, or a general slowing of recruiting volume.
Some questions to ask yourself: Are roles that were once urgent being frozen or canceled altogether? Are hiring managers who were previously attentive suddenly unavailable for intake meetings or not returning messages? Do the normal demands of doing your job seem to be lessening for no apparent reason?
Besides economic reasons, other causes of layoffs can also be mergers, acquisitions, new leadership, or some other major changes to the business. If any of these are happening at your workplace, it may be time to start taking some action.
If you are one to follow economic news, overall conditions or even headlines can also help you read the tea leaves. Businesses don’t operate in a vacuum, and if the overall economy is suffering, your company may not be too far behind.
The same way that you may develop a sixth sense for when a candidate is getting cold feet, it’s important to learn to be aware of workplace dynamics. As recruiters, we are often some of the most plugged in people at our places of employment. Learn to use these skills to evaluate the safety level of your job, and then act or react accordingly.
The best time to prepare for a disaster is before it happens. It’s natural for most people to forget about their resume once they get a job. However, in the case of a layoff it will be advantageous to have a current resume ready to go, as you never know when the next opportunity will arise.
In the chaos of an unexpected termination, you will have many other items to worry about, and depending on the length and complexity of your role it may be difficult to remember all of the highlights from several years of employment: Which projects were you involved in or did you lead? Did you receive any awards? What were your accomplishments? Did you get additional training? These are all items that you will want to keep top of mind and on your resume.
Also make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up-to-date. Put your recruiter hat on and ask yourself what would stick out to you regarding a potential candidate. Then apply that to your own profile.
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Speaking of LinkedIn, according to Recruiter.com, 94% of recruiters believe that LinkedIn is the best platform to vet and meet candidates. Perhaps no surprise there, but translated a different way, this means that nearly every recruiter is on the platform.
So before you get to the point of termination, take some time each week for yourself to reach out and thoughtfully connect to recruiters in areas you may be interested in. A simple message that you’re looking to connect like-minded professionals often works well.
Meanwhile, don’t forget about staffing-firm recruiters. While you may not have any work for them at your current role, as many in-house recruiting departments try to minimize third-party recruiter spend, they may have an opportunity for you at some point when you are in need. Being polite and professional can go a long way.
Finally, keep your eyes open for interesting roles. As recruiters are expected to be cheerleaders for their own companies, many of us neglect to remember that we may need a new job someday. You can never tell when that next perfect job may appear, so take the time to check out job openings on a regular basis, whether via LinkedIn or other job boards.
While some recruiters find it difficult to apply and possibly interview for new roles while also trying to maintain loyalty, there are ethical ways to do this. By keeping your job search to yourself, not using work-related items such as your work computer, and keeping interviews to non-work time, you can be both productive at your current role and protect your interests.
Another advantage of job-searching while you are currently employed is that it alleviates much of the pressure of needing a job as you already have one. This fact can also come in handy during negotiations.
The bottom line is that times are certainly hectic and no one can predict the future — yet everyone deserves their best work life. You can do that in ways that maintain loyalty to your current employer and ensure that you position yourself well in the job market.