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Welcome to the 24/7 Job Search

One of my coaching clients should have wrapped up her search weeks ago. But with budgets tightening, the job that she seemed poised to get may not be filled after all. This has happened twice now in her search. The first time, she had other companies in play but slowed down the pace on those leads and then had to rebuild. Now she knows to keep searches going simultaneously even when one seems promising. When the second imminent offer fell through, she barely missed a beat. Welcome to the age of the 24/7 job search.

In investing, you shouldn't try to time the market because you may pull out on the handful of days when the market makes its big returns. Similarly, in the job search, persistent and regular action is critical to getting in front of the right opportunities at the right time. If you put yourself out there day in and day out, you are more likely to be front and center when that ideal job opens up. In today’s volatile hiring market, right place and right time could be anywhere, anytime, hence the 24/7 job search.

If interviews are going well, don't stop looking elsewhere. The budget may disappear, another candidate may appear, and the chemistry may be off with a key decision-maker that only gets involved at the end of the interview process. Even if the offer does come through and you do accept it, the other interviews will serve as building blocks for your network, data points for your negotiations, and springboards for your next search.

After all, in the era of 24/7 job search, your next search starts as soon as you finish this one. I don’t mean that you send out resumes and schedule job interviews on or before your first day of the new job or even shortly thereafter. But I do mean that you don’t ever stop managing your career -- keeping an updated resume, maintaining your network, being aware of opportunities (even if that means referring other people instead of yourself). Work your job but also work your career. There is a difference: the person who works a job has things happen to them; and the person who works a career is ready at a moment’s notice to deal with an unexpected restructuring, layoff, or golden opportunity elsewhere.

The 24/7 job search isn’t bad, then, because it means that you take control over your career. It takes work and a shift in mindset, but once you do it and experience the power of having choices, you will never go back to the way things were. Besides, given this tight market, I’m not sure anyone can be successful with the old job searches techniques.

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Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart a career coaching firm for Gen Y professionals. Formerly in corporate recruiting and retained search, Caroline has recruited for Accenture, Booz Allen, Citibank, Disney ABC, Oliver Wyman, Pfizer, and Time Inc. She currently writes career columns for Portfolio.com and Vault.com and teaches Professional Development at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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