Never end your job search

A coworker of mine had this rule: get at least one job offer from a different company every year. Every year. He didn’t often take it, though, but he went through the extreme effort of constantly applying for positions, going through interviews, and getting the offers.

When he explained this process to me, I asked him why he did it. After all, then it wasn’t like there was turnover, layoffs and outsourcing going on. The world was still far away.

What he told me was that going through the entire job search effort kept him sharp in doing interviews. It told him how competitive the market was for his skills – and what skills he needed to get to improve. It told him whether his pay was correct in his current position or whether the market was better than he was getting right now.

At the time, I’m sure I had this blank look on my face hiding I thought what he was doing was excessive. Or crazy.

I don’t think that way anymore.

In a global economy, we’re competing for positions with everyone on the planet. Not just down the street. Companies know this. It is why the interview process has become a gauntlet. Talent, in many ways, is cheap when you look at your talent pool as everyone working in corporations across the planet.

And what do most of us do when we finally decide we need a job? At that point we start to hone our lost interviewing skills – and find out how much work they need. We discover we don’t have the basic job skills to do the work we want – and it is too late to start getting them before our job is gone and we are on our own. We start to build our network – when most of the people we know have left our lives while we ignored them leaving the company or our immediate social circle.

But if you were constantly looking for that next gig, the thought of a layoff isn’t threatening. In fact, you may find a better position before your current work gets tough. You’ve had the interview practice, you know the market, and you can evaluate what you told by the hiring manager.

If you were getting a job offer a year, wouldn’t you feel more confident about your ability to find work?

  • @Erika with Qvisory – One of the more interesting things in the job market is how serial the positions have become. Maintaining the interviewing skills is a growing need for individuals.

  • This is a great approach right now. No company is really completely safe right now, so hedging your bets and keeping an ear to the ground is a great way to prevent an unexpected slough of layoffs from ruining your day.

  • @Susan Davis – It depends on the size of the market. In this case, this occurred in the Chicago market. Given the globalized economy, offers can come from anywhere.

    Having said that, you can tarnish your reputation if all you are is a tire kicker. But he also honestly was interested in each position. He continually looked at the fit between the potential employment and his current position in relation to his career goals. There was no wool pulled over anyone’s eyes. And when he found a position that met his criteria with an offer — he took it.

    If you look at the statistics of how many different jobs people have today in a given time frame, especially Gen Y candidates, one almost needs to be serially interviewing to find the right fit for skills and needs for the next position in one’s career.

    In my ongoing career, I never had the same position for more than two years with a couple of exceptions. The difference: I also interviewed inside the companies I worked for to get new work.

    While my friend’s example is perhaps extreme, the lesson is not: if people who work in cubes do not practice interviewing skills and know their employment market, they are at a serious disadvantage to others who do when trying to get a new job. Companies certainly aren’t going to help them with these skills.

  • If I were *turning down* an offer a year that I wasn’t really serious about pursuing, that would make me feel significantly less confident that my reputation wasn’t being tarnished in the process. Hiring managers network with one another (I am one, and I do), and a reputation as a tire kicker would make me look askance at a candidate.

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