There are times in everyone’s career when a setback occurs. From a department-wide layoff, to a demotion, to getting fired – it happens to the best of them. Those professionals and executives who anticipate and prepare for change are known to rebound quicker, and get their career back on track faster!
So, in today’s increasingly volatile economy, it’s more important than ever to recognize that a change could happen to YOU(!) and do everything you can to prepare for it.
Just like with any emergency situation it’s critical to have a plan, an exit strategy, and a toolkit with all the essentials to help you navigate the storm. So to help you bounce back quickly from a career setback, here are five essentials you must have in your “career emergency toolkit”.
- A professionally critiqued resume. Think your resume is good enough? Think again. The unemployment pool is getting bigger and your resume must be in the top 2-percent to get noticed.
Imagine that a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity comes up and you have one shot to get your resume in front of the hiring manager. Will your resume help you, or hurt you? Invest in a professional resume critique.
An “Interview Prep Kit” including a polished portfolio, briefcase and power suit. Make sure you’re prepared for an interview, by having a hefty sample of your best work available including reports, strategic plans, proposals, campaigns or presentations that you created. This helps validate your successes and what you can do for the next company that hires you.Also, make sure you have a smart looking briefcase, power suit, and matching shoes so that you make a great impression when you walk into a room. You’ll need these for business networking events, as well as interviews.
List of high powered references. Start identifying those who could give you a strong professional recommendation. Go after those managers and executives with the highest title, biggest influence, and work for the most prestigious companies. If you’ve lost touch with someone on your list, start searching them out now. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.com makes it easy to find past colleagues. Also, consider who you WANT on your list and start looking for opportunities to get connected.
A Deep and Wide Professional Network. Don’t wait to start networking – do it now. Send your contacts links to reports, case studies, press releases and websites that you think may interest them. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers. Career influencers (those who could hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you) are drawn to those who are resourceful and well connected.Make sure you have updated contact information including e-mail address and phone numbers.
Your Plan “B”. What kind of work could you do to generate income if you lost your job right now? Could you freelance or start consulting? Would you prefer to work part-time while getting some specialized training or advanced education to help you come back better and stronger?Your Plan B is a back-up plan that should include a career strategy, as well as a finance plan with monthly costs you’re prepared to cut immediately if the worst should happen.
As one of the Presidential candidates recently said, “Hope is not a strategy.” This is especially true with regards to your career. The key is to always be prepared for the worst – always. By having the right tools and plans in your Career Emergency Toolkit, you’ll be better equipped to manage through any career setback, as well as come back faster and stronger!
Sherri Thomas is President of Career Coaching 360, an international speaker, and author of “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand.” Career Coaching 360 (https://careercoaching360.com) provides career planning, management coaching, and leadership development support to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.