I’m really hoping that your answer to this question is “no.”

I’m not sure there was a time when a “yes” answer would have ever been really good. But in today’s market, professionals cannot afford that type of thinking.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This has nothing to do with hard work or loyalty or ethics. Nor does it have to do with whether you like the company you currently work for. It also has nothing to do with your “career” as a whole. (In my mind, a job and a career are not the same things.)

I am talking about a specific employment engagement with a specific organization and the attitude today’s job market forces us to take with our jobs.

And that attitude is “always be prepared.”

Millennials may struggle with this less, but for Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, this is a nice sentiment but difficult to execute because we remember “back in the day” when a job search seemed more simple…when you didn’t have to try as hard and the competition wasn’t as stiff for promotions and contract work. If you liked the company you worked for, you most likely planned to stay there and move up the ranks. You wedded yourself to that train and you rode it as long as you could. And if you did decide to leave, you quickly tossed a basic resume together and went on the interview. You didn’t need to think about LinkedIn profiles, social recruiting, applicant tracking systems, mobile recruiting apps, etc. And personal branding and networking were not the buzzwords they are today.

All in all, both the road to promotion and the job search were pretty simple to maneuver. It was really just a matter of which job you were going to get and when. If you didn’t burn too many bridges, made a few good connections, and worked hard, you should be OK.

Today, getting a proper job search off the ground is a much bigger feat. So big in fact that I talk to many passive candidates who would like to leave but feel overwhelmed about the prospect of just getting a search started. But this is the beginning of a slippery slope of wedding yourself to a job that doesn’t promise the same type of commitment in return.

Listen. Today’s job search process, be it for an internal promotion or an external move, doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but it does require a bit of preparation and maintenance.

What that means is that once you have a resume, LI profile, portfolio, social recruiting strategy in place, you need to keep it in good shape…even when you’re happy with your current job! It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy or cost a fortune…an annual review would be a great place to start…but whatever the cost, you can’t afford to ignore it or you will be wedded to your current job, so wedded that when something happens and it is time for you to act, it is much tougher for you to do.

I see it all the time. My clients who stay prepared actually do well in this market. They have an entrepreneurial mindset, which is that opportunity is around any corner.

I came across this infographic from Jobvite recently that showcases some statistics about today’s working professional. The data are from 2012, but they still highlight the mindset of today’s worker.

Ask yourself: How prepared am I for that next job change?

Because it is coming…If you are in the market for another 3-4 years, statistically speaking, it is likely to happen. How long would it take you to get your social networks working for you? Are you up on the latest in recruiting trends? These are questions you may not have had to ask “back in the day,” but today they are relevant and will most likely affect your next search.

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