I was listening to the gospel reading at Mass on Sunday and its message resonated with me. Just in case you slept in due to the time change, the reading was Matthew 25: 1-13. Ten guests go out to meet the bridegroom but only 5 bring extra oil for their lamps; the bridegroom is delayed and the ones without extra oil must leave their posts to buy more supplies. The bridegroom arrives while the unprepared are away, the 5 prepared guests are ushered into the celebration, doors are locked, and when the remaining 5 guests return they find themselves locked out.
The last line of this Gospel reading is well-known, “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Now the reading is speaking of the day/hour of the arrival of the Lord, but hearing that phrase yesterday made me think of the message’s application in one’s career search. One needs to be prepared as he/she does not know the day or hour when an opportunity will present itself. So how does one prepare for the coming of a career opportunity?
Application Materials: It is wise to always have an updated copy of your resume along with sample work examples. We often mean to update our resumes once a year, but without it being a pressing need, often we procrastinate. I work with many students and young alumni who are presented with opportunities only to lose momentum due to slow response in following up with their application materials. If a contact asks for your resume, it sends a poor message if it takes several days/a week to respond.
Contacts/Mentors: It is important to keep individuals, whom you determine are important to your professional development, up-to-date with your career. Your “inner circle” of advisers and mentors should receive communications from you at regular intervals. If one is gainfully and happily employed, the communications may only occur 2-3 times a year; if one is actively in the job market, the communications should be more frequent.
Industry Knowledge: I worked with a computer engineer who was an expert on a particular mainframe computer. His former employer was one of the few who were still using this particular system and thus he was the resident expert and a valued employee. However, when the home office closed his branch, his options were limited as he was an expert in an outdated piece of machinery.
Be sure to stay current in your industry, what are issues facing your sector and what are new developments that could impact your job in the coming years? It is important to take your nose away from the grindstone occasionally to evaluate, learn, develop, and grow as a professional.
If you have not updated your resume, reached out to your contact base, or not updated your skill set in a while, it may be time to do so now. The holidays are a natural time for outreach – think Christmas cards – and opportunities can be generated – think of the holiday parties you will attend – so be prepared “…for you know neither the day nor the hour.”