You have a job now, but times being as they are, you may one day find yourself without it. The time to prepare for—and hopefully prevent—that scenario is while you’re still employed.
Here are four things to do now that will benefit you if you ever lose your job, according to Karen Porter, founder and president of The Effective Admin and the Virtual Association for Administrative Professionals:
1. Come out from behind your desk and purposefully network. Learn about the workplace needs of other people and how you can serve them—before you need them to do you a favor.
You can even network from your desk by joining discussion groups on LinkedIn or other admin forums. Porter leads one called The Effective Admin group. “If and when the time comes that an employer is researching you, your knowledge and attributes will be on display in your posts,” she says. (Note: You can also follow the peer-to-peer discussion on this newsletter’s Admin Pro Forum.)
2. Regularly scan online ads seeking administrative professionals to get ahead of the job-searching game. What skills and attributes are employers asking for today?
“For instance, I’ve seen some lively discussions in group forums on the usage of shorthand by administrative assistants and executive assistants and whether you need to know this skill or not,” Porter says.
Admins often say they use shorthand in the office to increase efficiency with note-taking.
“But I challenge you to find a request for this skill in the ads seeking administrative professionals,” she says. “You won’t. While it’s definitely helpful for note-taking, and perhaps useful to flaunt with the right executive or hiring manager, most employers today won’t consider this a high-value skill.”
And therein lies the issue: You want to portray yourself as a high-value employee with high-value skills. If shorthand isn’t considered a high-value skill, it’s not something to trumpet.
On the other hand, Porter says she recently saw an ad seeking admins first and foremost with “extensive minute-taking experience.” The ad also mentioned the ability to set priorities, meet multiple deadlines, compose correspondence and be proficient in Microsoft Office.
“How many of those areas are you strong in? Weak in? I can almost guarantee that, even if you’re interviewed, the person with ‘extensive minute-taking skills’ will be ahead of you for the job offer (all other things equal),” she says.
And that leads us to the next item on the list.
3. Refresh skills that are needed now in the marketplace. Porter says admins often say to her, “I wish I could afford your training publication on X because it’s a skill I need to learn or refresh, but I can’t afford it now, because I’m unemployed.”
That’s yet another reason to bolster in-demand skills now, before you need them.
“As an administrative professional, you anticipate regularly at work and on behalf of your manager or executive,” she says. “Start using the skill of anticipation personally in your own career blueprint.”
4. Find the gaps on your résumé. What could you add to your résumé to make yourself more attractive to hiring managers? Do you have plenty of accomplishments to list? If not, set some specific goals at work, initiate a project or volunteer.
Are you lacking certain skills? Get certified in popular software programs. Teach a class in-house at your company on a certain skill topic.
Porter asks, “What better way to show you know your subject matter than to be able to say you taught X number of classes on it for X years to X employees?”
Bottom line: Make yourself employable now before you’re unexpectedly unemployed later.
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