According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the time required to find a new job has gone up less than a week in the last six months (July-December, 2008). In other words, in the worst job market in 80 years, job seekers are, on average, taking less than just seven days more than normal to find work.
Now, please, don’t misunderstand me. It takes a whopping 10.6 weeks or almost three months to find a job these days. That’s a long period of searching by anyone’s account, and I’m not for a minute diminishing the frustration and anxiety it causes. But, if it’s only taking seven days more to find a job today than it did during the much better job market of even two years ago, then the duration of a job search is NOT due to the economy. Something else must be causing the problem.
What is that something else?
Lack of preparation.
Most people start their job search with their career miserably out of shape. And then, they try to sprint to a new job and find they lack the strength, endurance and reach to do so. They may be exerting a lot of effort, but they inevitably falter and slow down. They’re trying to run a marathon without having first done the necessary conditioning of their career. Unless they’re incredibly lucky, it simply won’t come out well.
So, what should you do?
Get your career in shape before the pink slip arrives.
That’s the idea behind my new book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System. In today’s tough job market, you simply can’t succeed (at finding a job or getting ahead) without attending to the health of your career. And you have to do that when you have a job—when everything seems to be going right—not when your career has suffered cardiac arrest or what you and I call unemployment. It’s that preparation that enables you to launch your job search and sustain it at a pace that will quickly put you back to work and back to work in a great job.
What should you do if you’re already in the race for a new or better job?
Get to work on building Career Fitness right away. The stronger your career, the shorter your job search. Regardless of when you start.
And then, never stop. Why? Because today’s job market will be just like tomorrow’s and the one the day after that. It won’t get any easier to find a great job, even after the recession ends and the economy is growing again. The 21st Century world of work will be filled with challenges and opportunities that never end. Those of us whose careers are flabby and out of shape will be the victims of those challenges; those of us whose careers are fit will be the masters of the opportunities. And, it’s up to you to decide what kind of career you will have.