You know the feeling when you are looking for a new job and feel all that pressure to find something, I don’t know, YESTERDAY? The best time to lay the groundwork for any new job or career switch is while you are completely happy in your current position and not looking for new opportunities. Doing a few simple things will make your life that much easier when and if you decide to make a move.

1.    Identify and track your accomplishments

“I’ll get around to it. I’ll do it later.”

Only to find out you have no idea by what percentage you increased revenue, cut costs, or increased visibility among clients. Do you remember the price tag on the task you implemented on that federal contract? Do you know your sales figures? What about how many new followers the company gained after you launched a new social media campaign? What did your boss do with that report you wrote or the research you presented in that stunning power point you spent all those hours developing?

Now’s the time to identify your accomplishments and add them to your resume. You always want to have your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date. You never know when someone will ask for it, when you’ll be nominated for an award, or when a recruiter will reach out to you.

A good formula for thinking through your accomplishments is:

What did you do? How did you do it? How did it further the mission or goals of the organization? How did it help your boss? How did it solve a problem for your client? What was the impact?

As an example, one of my accomplishments includes some positive feedback I received:

Recognized by the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, for blog on new rights-of-way rules. “Jennifer – thank you for your generous review of our new Right of Way regulations…We believe them to be an improvement from both the industry and tribal perspectives. Thanks for providing such a detailed and positive review!”

Start identifying your accomplishments now while they are fresh in your head.

2.    Figure out who you help, how you help them, and why

“I’ve never really thought about my value. I just know that I am a (fill in the blank here).”

What’s your value proposition? What are your strengths? What sets you apart from your peers?

When’s the last time you went to a conference or a party and someone asked, “what do you do?” Instead of the typical, “I’m an attorney/management consultant/marketing associate,” craft your elevator pitch now. Knowing how to articulate your Professional Brand to others will help them remember you and think of you when they have an opening or know of one requiring your unique skill set. I have two as both an entrepreneur and tech/telecom policy attorney;

I help professionals and students present the strongest versions of themselves and network their way into their next position, advancing in their careers and earning more money, because I find genuine satisfaction in empowering others and seeing them step out of their comfort zone to achieve their goals.

I help organizations execute their vision by spearheading strategic policy initiatives, advocating policy positions before Congress and government agencies, providing thought leadership, and building coalitions.

Figuring this out now will save you countless hours of unneeded stress when you are in the job market.  if you can It will also help you tremendously when networking, which brings me to the third thing you must absolutely do when you are not looking for a job.

3.    Build and maintain an active network while providing value  

“But, I am perfectly happy in my job and love what I do. Why do I need to network? Isn’t that only for people who are looking for job.”

This is the number one misconception I come across when counseling job seekers. When I ask students or professionals to tell me what networking means to them, they tell me it means finding people who can help you get a job. And then, I tell them that with that mindset, they are going to be looking for a VERY LONG TIME.

Networking while looking for a job is a must. But it is even more of a must when you are not looking. Networking is all about providing value to others. When people know you will go out of your way to help them, you will have a relationship built on trust and respect. When the time comes and you need help, you are much more likely to have these people in your corner because they know you, they respect you, and they trust you. That’s a much better approach than sending out an email saying, “Hi, we’ve never met but can you hire me?”

How can you provide value?

  • Connect them to others you may know with similar interests
  • Send them potential interns
  • Comment or share their blog posts on social media
  • Recognize their work publicly online
  • Pass along client referrals

There are countless ways to be of value to others. As you go through your day or week, try to go out of your way to help 1-3 people a week. This is one of the very best ways you can build relationships.

In sum, you are in the perfect position to save yourself a lot of stress later for just a little bit of work now. Identify some of your career accomplishments, figure out your Professional Brand, and start helping those in your network. Doing these three things now will make your life that much easier down the road and set you up for success when its time to make your next career move.