Broaden circle in economic downturn

The stock market has gone from panacea to Pandora’s box. Talk has shifted from “I think I’ll retire early,” to “I wonder if I’ll have a job.” Young dot com employees who, just months ago, were counting on their stock options and picking out their new BMW’s, are getting a dose of grown up reality. The rest of us have been here before and it stinks.


Whether the economic slide will continue is anybody’s guess, but if layoffs at DaimlerChrysler, Motorola, Dell, ShopKo and Goodyear are indicative of our future, it’s time to reassess your career and shift into survival mode just in case.


So, you think you’re pretty safe from a lay off and don’t have to fret? Don’t be so sure. Mergers, restructuring and repositioning can rock your world. The churn in the marketplace is affecting most industries, so no matter what you call it, you might still be out of a job.


If the pre e-commerce downturns taught us anything, it was how to hunker down and protect thyself. Here’s how to build your bunker to survive in the event career bombs start to fly in your direction.


§         Step back from your day-to-day pressures and take a look at what is happening in your industry. Maybe it’s time to call some peers and find out how life is in their neck of the woods. Who’s buying whom? Has a competitor gone out of business? Has your competition shifted their strategy recently? Now more than ever you need to read professional journals and attend industry conferences (spend time in the halls between sessions to find out what is really going on in your industry). Besides, if you get involved in industry groups now, you will cut months off of a job search if you’re already connected.


§         Take a hard look at the skills you have for sale. If you found yourself on the job market, would your skills be valued or have you let yourself slip? “I thought I was so close to retirement that I could coast,” a fifty-year-old confessed in a recent seminar, “Now I’m taking computer classes. Funny…I could have signed up for company sponsored computer training a year ago but I thought I was just too busy.”


§         Step forward and tackle projects that will help the company solve its problems. Now is not the time to be hiding among the sheep. Go beyond the parameters of your job to add value in any way you can. Volunteer to be on a task force, throw your hat in the ring for that new job leading a brand new department; speak up in a problem-solving meeting. What are you waiting for? Survival goes to the bold employee who is willing to innovate and be a part of the changes the company is trying to make.


§         Step up your networking now, instead of waiting until the axe falls. Inside your organization, make it a point to lunch with people in different areas of the company. Lift your nose off of the grindstone and sniff the political wind. You would also be wise to schedule at least one lunch per week outside your organization. Don’t limit yourself to your industry, since many companies are interested in talent no matter where it comes from.  (You would do it if you were looking for another job wouldn’t you?).


§         Become a go-to person in your department and your company. Offer your expertise to help those around you—don’t just stick your nose in their work, help them.  As you become more involved in issues and projects around the organization, you will be positioned as the person in the know. People who are at the hub of information are influential and sought out by others.


§         Refresh your resume. Add your current experience and be sure to include a lot of “CAR” stories. CAR stands for the Challenge you faced, the Approach you took, and the Results you achieved.  Having an updated resume will make you feel more in control. While you are networking, you are likely to hear about potential jobs. If you need to act fast you’ll be ready. It’s also time to check out the national and local job boards to find out what’s out there.


There is still a lot of optimism in the marketplace and plenty of jobs in many sectors--but the clouds are forming. But doesn’t it make sense to get plan B ready in case the sky does fall?

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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