A new study by LinkedIn shows job-hopping is on the rise. Additionally, as the gig economy continues to strengthen, it's being suggested that by 2020 as much as 40 percent of our work force will be independent contractors as opposed to full-time employees. It isn't hard to see we need to be even more mindful of how we manage our careers today, or we could find ourselves struggling to stay employed.

When Opportunity Stops Knocking, Your Career Suffers

There are two types of job seekers in the world today:

A. Active--you need a job and are proactively looking for one

B. Passive--you've got a job, but will consider new opportunities when they arise

Guess which one you want to be? Studies show being a passive job seeker makes you more in-demand. Recruiters are more likely to contact you, and employers will often pay a premium for you. Therefore, if you want to keep your career on track, you need to build up your skills and reputation so you stay employable.

Six Signs Your Career Is in Trouble

If you are worried you might be getting off-track professionally, ask yourself if any of these warning signals apply to you:

1) You've been out of work for more than six months. Studies show recruiters discriminate against people who have been out of work for over six months. Similar to when a house is on the market for a while, the assumption is something is wrong with your skills and abilities, making it harder and harder to get interviews and job offers. 

Tip: Get help crafting how you explain to recruiters your long-term unemployment. Also, be prepared to deal with questions like, "What have you been doing with your free time?" and "Why do you think you are still unemployed?" These can feel stressful to answer, but the more confidence and sincerity in your explanations, the better the chances they'll consider you in spite of the employment gap. 

2) You keep getting told you're overqualified during interviews. Think about it: You were brought in for an interview because of what the interviewers read on either your résumé or LinkedIn profile. Why then, are you suddenly overqualified when you're there in person? It's more than likely something you're saying or doing in the interview is giving the interviewers the impression you have too much experience. Even worse, they're thinking you are too set in your ways, or you're coming across as a know-it-all.

Tip: Consider getting some interview prep training to see how you're presenting yourself. In particular, many people over the age of 40 tend to unknowingly present themselves in an overbearing way in an interview, sending the wrong message. Especially to hiring managers who are younger than you are.

3) In the past two years, you haven't learned and applied to your job any significant new employer-needed skills. If you've had no reason to upgrade your skill sets, then your job isn't evolving. That might be fine for now, but history shows that if jobs don't change and grow, they usually become obsolete.

Tip: Take an online course or certification to engage your brain and enhance your knowledge. Many are free and can be added to your credentials to show you're taking ownership of your professional growth outside the company.

4) You haven't been promoted, changed roles, or been given new responsibilities in more than three years. Similar to No. 3, if you aren't being given new challenges, you're either being seen as incapable of handling more or you're in a career path that's a dead-end.

Tip: Set a meeting to discuss with your employer how you can provide more value to the organization. Let your manager know you're looking for ways to up-skill so you can save or make the company money. That way, she or he will know what's in it for the company.

5) You aren't getting any inquiries from headhunters or corporate recruiters. As we climb the career ladder, there are fewer and fewer opportunities that match. If there aren't any open positions at your level, you can expect the competition for rare openings to be fierce. Most of the time, these jobs never get published. Instead, they go to a referral within the existing employees' network.

Tip: Make sure your online profiles are up-to-date. Recruiters use tools like LinkedIn to find passive candidates. If your profile doesn't have the right quantity and quality of keywords, you aren't showing up in their search results.

6) Your network is unresponsive. Today, when it comes to keeping your career on track, your network is your net worth. When peers respect and admire you, they're more likely to help you. When your network isn't helping you tap into the hidden job market, it could mean your skills and abilities aren't something they can confidently recommend.

Tip: Make sure you network knows what your in-demand skills are. You can do this by regularly contributing on social media platforms, sharing articles that relate to your industry or area of expertise. When you put this type of information in your feed, you're educating your network on your profession. It's the only way to help them remember what you do.

Don't Neglect Your Business-of-One

Today, every job is temporary and we are all businesses-of-one who need to think of employers as customers. You never know when a customer might leave you. Thus, it's up to you to make sure you have a marketing strategy for your business-of-one that keeps you in-demand, or your career could suffer.

Published on: Apr 18, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.