I hate to sound like “a doom and gloomer,” but there is a fact I want to bring to the forefront of your thinking.
The economy will not always improve; there will be another recession.
And, if history is any guide to us, most people will be shocked, surprised and caught unprepared when they are invited into their boss’ office or a conference room and told that they are being laid off.
“How could they do this to me,” Bobby told me as I interviewed him for a new job with a client of mine shortly after he was fired. “I gave so much to them! I was a top performer. Everyone liked me. My manager told me just last week how valuable I was! How could they lay me off?”
Bobby was out of work for 8 months in 2002 after being fired after the recession that occurred after 9/11. He was back on the phone with me in 2009 after being laid off from the financial firm he worked for laid him off as a result of the financial crisis that affected the world from 2007 – 2010.
“I made a mistake,” he said. “I focused on doing a great job for my firm and I did great work for them. When the crisis hit, I should have realized what the old song said. ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.’”
If that sounds or feels familiar to you, if that is what you are doing, you are like most people right now who are putting in enormous amounts of time to doing their jobs and very little to managing their careers.
The good news is that we have hit that recession yet and you do have time to prepare. Here are several things that you can do now to prepare yourself before the next economic crisis hits.
- Start keeping an eye on the weather Pay attention to trends in your industry that may affect your employer. Last time, the largest firms in the world laid off hundreds of thousands of people or sold themselves to other companies who laid off hundreds of thousands of people. Why would it be any different next time?
- Start a side hustle. Starting a business on the side can be as easy as launching a website about something you love, selling accounting services to small businesses in your city or tutoring students about subjects that you have expertise in. There are millions of possible side businesses that you could start that, if times became difficult, could afford you full time income to tide you over.
- Reduce your expenses and create a budget. Having more money in the bank will allow you to hold out for a great job and not just the first thing that comes along. You don’t have to feel desperate when your interviewing; employers can smell desperation sitting opposite them on an interview. That can cost you money during the negotiation and sometimes even the entire opportunity. It reminds me of debriefing an employer after an interview when they asked me, “She seems so desperate. What’s wrong with her?”
- Write your resume now. I know. You are not looking for a job now. However, it is a lot harder to write a resume when you are upset and/or scared. Start by writing down everything you’ve accomplished since joining your current firm. Include the money that you help them earn and the money that you help them save. Companies like to see metrics like that in a resume. Write an update to it every three months. Even if you are not laid off, you will be prepared when you have your next review with your boss or when a recruiter contacts you about a new opportunity that piques your interest.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. Make sure what is in your LinkedIn profile is consistent with what is in your resume. When you decide you want to look for a job, put your email address and phone number in the summary area of your profile; this will make it easier for recruiters to contact you without spending an inMail to reach you.
- Reconnect with former colleagues and friends and say, “Hi!” Periodic, “hi, how are you,” phone calls when you don’t need anything from someone go a long way toward reestablishing your network. You may need these people in the future . . . And they may need you, too.
- When your boss says, “you have nothing to worry about,” ask yourself this question. What do they really know? Most of you work for people who are so far down the food chain they are in no different a boat then you are. Their optimism can be tragic for you and for them. Maintain a level head and make wise decisions without undue influence.
- Start turning yourself into a celebrity, if possible. People who were well known in their field because they are public speakers at conferences, bloggers or podcasters about their industry or field or quoted in the media stand out and have a competitive advantage. Years ago, I coach someone who I encouraged to become a conference speaker and start writing for trade publications. Soon he was approached by executive search firms for higher level positions, eventually making partner and one of the large management consulting firms. Eventually, he started his own business and turned it into a very successful endeavor that he eventually sold. This all happened because he became much more visible professionally at conferences.
Using a football analogy, we are probably in the fourth quarter of the game and the clock is running down. When it gets to the two-minute warning, it will probably be too late to put a successful plan in place to head off the impact of the next economic crisis.
If I’m wrong, you save some money, prepared for your next salary review, reconnected with some old friends and colleagues, started a side business and put the money aside for your retirement and become well known as a professional in your field. Not bad.
If I’m right, you are much better prepared than anyone else you know and to provide you with a huge advantage.
That doesn’t feel particularly gloomy!
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2016
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career coach and professional recruiter with more than 40 years of experience. His new site, JobSearchCoachingHQ.com, is launching May 17, 2016 and will provide coaching to job hunters and hundreds of pieces of information to help job hunters be more successful with their search.