Preparing For the Pink Slip

 The unemployment rate just hit 9.7%–a 26 year high.  While there are clear signs that we are pulling out of this recession, try telling that to someone who’s looking for a job.  The recession has cut deep. We empathize with everyone who has lost their job. Hopefully, it won’t happen to us. But if it did, are you prepared if the pink slip is yours?

Job loss is a devastating experience. In my outplacement practice-a service to help laid off workers find new employment. I often have participants who have worked in the same company for 20-30 years. Often it is their first job and only job. Suddenly, their life is turned upside down and they are totally unprepared for the reality of having to find a new job.

So what should one do before the prospect of losing a job becomes an ugly reality? To begin, everyone should be managing their career. After all, if you do not, someone else will and you may not like the plan they have for you.

What does it mean to manage your career? What steps should you be taking?

1.Regularly look at your career. Ask yourself is that what you really want to do for the rest of your life? Would you be happier doing something different? So often when I ask individuals how they got into their current career, they respond with a shrug of their shoulders or relay a story about how they took a job a long time ago and it evolved overtime to what they are doing now. Though common, this is hardly a career plan.

 2.Take stock of your skills, education and experience. Make sure your skills are up to date. Take the time to undergo a self-assessment. Regularly take courses and attend workshops. If your company will not support these initiatives financially, pay for them yourself. What better thing to invest in then yourself. And with improved skills, you become more valuable to your current employer. Remember, without up-to-date skills, education and experiences, you are at a big disadvantage in the job marketplace.

 3.Update your resume annually. Begin by making a list of your accomplishments and contributions to your company’s bottom line. Include your skills and education. Your resume should highlight your talent. It is the best method to self-market your skills. Anyone who is reading your resume should instantly know what you can do for them. Remember, employers are not interested in individuals who can simply perform tasks. Employers hire and pay for individuals who can achieve results.

 4. Join professional associations. Associations, trade groups, chambers of commerce are excellent vehicles for learning new things and making new contacts.

 5. Network, network, network. Getting out, talking to people is critical to your career. Knowing who to call with a question, to help solve a business problem, or to simply exchange ideas, are the powers of networking. And if you should ever need to conduct a job search, you are more likely to find a job amongst your network than through the help wanted pages.

 Managing your career makes you a more valuable employee now and prepares you for the future. A well a managed career will give you confidence and peace of mind. Hopefully you will never be faced with a sudden job loss. But, if you should, you’ll be ready.

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