In baseball, heads up means paying alert and paying attention to what is going on. There is a sort of vigilance to the situation you are in and making the right play when the ball is hit to you. After all, if you aren’t paying attention, bad things can happen including getting hurt.
If you’ve never seen the video of 50 Cent throwing out the first pitch at a Mets game, well, you understand why camera men on the field need to be heads up, particularly when a celebrity is throwing out the first pitch. YIKES!
I was reminded of the importance of keeping my head up with a recent service launch where I spent so much effort focused on creating a great product, keeping my head down for months, working on the product, I did almost no marketing ahead of the launch day. Announcing the service was greeted by a big yawn.
For you, remember, the person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest, or work the hardest. Those are great qualities to have but don’t guaranty advancement.
In fact, the person who gets ahead is the person who remains alert to possibilities. Sometimes, those possibilities are within your current organization; more often, they are external to it.
Thus, in order to be ready for the inevitable knocks on your door with opportunities or you to consider, here are a few things you can do to foster opportunities to land in your lap . . . and be ready for them.
- Don’t make the mistake I did by not proactively marketing yourself. You have to think of yourself as the Chairman of the Board of your own business looking out for your own interests, rather than abdicating them to your employer. If you do that, they will look out for their interests and not yours. Decide where you want to get to and how others like you have gotten there by taking informational interviews NOW. It is not enough to connect with one person. Talk to 10 and start noticing patterns to the answers you get.
- Develop an idea of what would cause you to change jobs . . . but not stupid ones. No one is going to offer a two year developer the opportunity to be CIO of a major firm or even a Director for one. No one will hire a low level accountant for a CFO job . . . unless it is for an organization that should give you reason to reject them. If these are your criteria, you are going to burn a lot of bridges by showing professional immaturity.
On the other hand, if you are happy where you are and would change jobs for a more challenging opportunity, with higher pay closer to home (or work from home), then these are things that are reasonable to be on the look out for.
- Think of LinkedIn as the place where you are being hunted for opportunities. Update your LinkedIn profile with accurate keywords to describe your work and to include your email address in the summary area (if you are actively looking for a job, include your phone number). Make it easy for people to reach you.
- As easy as Linkedin is making for you to connect from your mobile devices (you do have the LinkedIn app on your phone, right), since you probably don’t log in regularly (even though you should), make it easy for people to contact you by providing your email address, instead of messaging you through LinkedIn.
- The average time to fill a position is less than a month. If you are responding to an inMail a month or more after receiving it because you just don’t log in, the job is likely filled or close to being so. Put a reminder in your phone to log in daily for 5 minutes on your commute, while at lunch or standing on line for coffee and start reading and responding to inMails. Get in the game quickly and don’t over think an opportunity.
- Update your resume. Eventually the conversation will turn to seeing a copy of your resume. Tell them you have to update it and will send it the next day . . . but actually have one ready. This helps to create the illusion you are not looking for a new position but are open to other opportunities.
7. Hire an impartial coach to help you. Your husband, wife or partner, friend or colleague, former boss or clergy may know you but not know the job hunting process well enough to guide you. A third party recruiter . . . well, they are paid by companies to fill jobs and not look out for you. Hiring a coach to help guide you can be inexpensive long term and help you get to your destination faster. At www.JobSearchCoachingHQ.com, we offer a ton of great information about how to be more successful with a job search, whether aggressive or passive plus you can schedule time with me to have situational questions answered.
Your career is in your hands. Abdicating that responsibility to others is usually very expensive no matter what field you are in.
Keeping your head down and doing a good job won’t help you if you lose your job.
Lift your head up and start looking around you. You will notice a whole new world around you.
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2016
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is the head coach of JobSearchCoachingHQ.com and a professional recruiter with more than 40 years of experience.