Layoffs, layoffs everywhere!

A few months ago people where having intellectual debates about whether or not we were in a recession.  Of course we weren’t, as economists have a definition for “recession,” and we clearly hadn’t met the requirements.

Today, the buzz isn’t about “recession,” but it is all about the economy.  From the federal bailout to layoffs at Lehman Bros to the WaMu acquisition, we’re left wondering what’s going on, and what will happen to our careers.  Could we be…. next?  And how will a McCain or Obama presidency affect our careers and our pocketbooks?

No matter what industry you are in, or how strong or weak your company is, there are things you should have in place RIGHT NOW so you can have some kind of job, or career, security:

  1. An updated resume. Of course this makes the list, since it’s a post for the Career-Resumes blog 🙂  But really, you should have an updated resume.  When I got laid off I had to hunt down my resume, and spent too much time looking in all the wrong places.  Do you want to spare a day or two just looking for the last resume you used?  Oh yeah, aside from having the information current, make sure the formatting and messaging is current.  If you don’t know what that means, no worries.  The writers at Career Resumes do.
  2. A list of “target companies.” When I got help with my job search, I learned I needed to have a list of target companies.  I had developed a list of companies in a brainstorm session, but the career specialist told me I should have 3 – 5 target companies that I would really focus on.  If you aren’t in a serious job search right now you don’t need your 3 – 5, but you definitely should have a list of companies you would put in that list…. just in case.
  3. A list of key network contacts. My career specialist pounded this notion into my head: I would get my next job through my networking efforts.  Whether that would prove to be true or not, the statistics support it.  I didn’t want to hear that, though, because I didn’t feel I knew anyone, and felt my competition (other job seekers) had an advantage over me since I was an out-of-towner with a weak local network.  Don’t wait until you are in a serious job search to list your network contacts.  And, don’t just leave them in your company’s computer (Outlook, etc.), as you likely won’t have access to your list once you are let go.
  4. A convincing, even compelling 30 second commercial. Whether you call it an elevator pitch, or a commercial, or whatever, the point is to be able to communicate who you are in a short amount of time, and in a way that makes the people listening want to know more.  This is one of the things that is so very hard for most people, as they feel pitchy, and not genuine.  If you feel that way, pick up a copy of Brag! at your library and read it cover-to-cover.  Oh yeah, don’t wait to get a 30 second commercial until you need it… you can use one right now.  Don’t people ask you “what do you do for a living?”  Practice now and you’ll be well-prepared in the future.
  5. A solid sense of your finances. If your income got cut off at the end of this month (that is, tomorrow), how will you do?  Do you have savings you can use for mortgage, rent, car payments, food, credit card payments, etc.?  Where will you go for help?  No matter how much money you make now, having it dry up will you.  If you take one month for every $10,000 you want to earn, you know you’ll be out of work for six months just to find a $60k/year job, right?  Are you ready for that?

I wasn’t even close to ready when I started my job search.  It didn’t help that my resume sucked, and I had no idea how to find a professional job.  Hopefully, getting your affairs in order now can help absorb the blow when it affects you.  If nothing else, you can have a certain peace of mind knowing you are doing what you can to prepare.

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