Start looking at job listings now — even if you’re happy with your current role.

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  • The authors of “The New Rules of Work” suggest browsing job listings before you’re ready to quit.
  • Focus specifically on the skills required for the positions you might want someday.
  • Now is still a good time to look at job openings — the US had 10.7 million of them in September.

You should be looking at job postings all the time even as some industries pull back on hiring. 

Focus specifically on the skills section of the job descriptions — especially those skills that are required for the position, but that you don’t currently have. That way, you’ll be able to identify the exact hurdles you need to overcome to progress to the next stage in your career.

This tip comes from Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew, coauthors of “The New Rules of Work.” The book, published in 2017, distills the most important lessons Cavoulacos and Minshew have learned as president and CEO, respectively, of careers advice and job listings site The Muse.

Cavoulacos and Minshew’s advice is especially relevant now, when job-seekers still have considerable leverage despite layoffs in industries like tech. The US had 10.7 million job openings in September. 

Remember, too: The authors say it doesn’t matter if you’re perfectly content in your current role. At some point, you’ll want a promotion, or at least a new challenge — even if it’s within the same company. Prepare now for the moment when that urge strikes.

Take the reins of your career

In the book, Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew jolt readers out of a passive approach to their career development: “In today’s workplace, it’s not your manager’s job to make sure you have the necessary skills you need to advance; it’s yours.”

Unfortunately, too many people wait for their manager to plop a promotion — or at least a game plan for getting a promotion — in their lap. As a result, they may find themselves stagnating in their careers.

The authors write: “Professionals who stay upwardly mobile don’t let years go by without thinking about the next step; they constantly keep their career trajectory at the front of their mind.”

Another, similar technique the authors suggest is browsing your contacts’ LinkedIn profiles. Look at people who hold positions you might want, and see what kinds of skills or experiences they’ve listed on their profiles.

Once you’ve identified those skills you’ll eventually need, you can work on gaining them — by taking a course, going to conferences, or volunteering to work on a new company project.

“Proactively pursuing the learning you need to take your career to the next level,” the authors write, “is what differentiates great professionals from average ones.”