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Plan For Brighter Days

Welcome to 2009! Unlike years past when we started the New Year off with a fresh clean slate, this year we have the distinct displeasure of continuing to face a tough and uncertain economic environment. We cannot escape it- it’s everywhere. We hear it, watch it and read it. Our families, friends and even we have been affected by it in one way or another. Some of you have already lost your job, and the rest of us are nervous about the possibility—or at least should be. I do not mean to encourage fears and worries for their own sake (that is a job for the news). But the facts are in and there were more jobs lost in 2008 than any year since 1945, and unemployment now stands at 7.2%. No one really knows where these numbers are going to go from here. This is not the time to bury our heads in the sand and hope to weather the storm. I suggest we all swallow that hard dose of reality and start making preparations for whatever lies ahead. It’s time to turn nervous energy into proactive planning.

Military soldiers do live training drills, Broadway shows have dress rehearsals, and sports teams practice their game plays. This is the time for your dress rehearsal. The following are a few thoughts I have about developing your own game plans.

Dust off the Resume. It is time to look through the files to find the most recent copy of your resume. If it is on the computer, you are one step ahead. Those of you still wielding paper copies of your resume need to get it into electronic format. Take the time now to craft your resume (Not too long, two pages at the most). It is much easier to build a solid resume while not under duress of a lost job.

Make Some Decisions. This is a good time to really do some soul searching about your job or career. Do you really enjoy your job? If so, excellent. If not, why? If it is the type of work you do not enjoy, begin thinking about what it is you do enjoy. I truly believe that life is way too short to spend much of it doing something we dislike. If you cringe in the morning at the thought of going to work, right now is an excellent time to think about the future. If the possibility of lay off is inevitable and you do not enjoy the work anyway, then this could be the time to turn over a new leaf. If you do not get laid off but still are not happy at work, you will have a jump start on finding a better fit.

Do the Research. Doing the research now helps you to have a game plan when/if you are laid off. Determine the type of company for which you would like to work. Large? Small? Family Friendly? Research the companies in your area. If you are open and able to relocate, research companies everywhere. Look on their career pages to see their recruitment activity. Go to the job board sites to get a feel for the activity as well. Look over their press releases and history of the company. Find out if they are selling off or acquiring, and how long they have been around. Start making a list of “favorites” or “potentials” that you can look into immediately if the moment arises.

Stay informed. As I mentioned before, this is no time to stick your head in the sand and wait it out. Even though it gives you that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, it is better to know what is going on. Keep abreast of the news, read articles, blogs and join discussion groups. Stay connected to the information. By doing so you can stay in the know, hone your digital savvy (a plus for any resume), and make contacts that could payoff later.

Watch for Signs. If you do nothing else, at least follow through on this one. The worst thing you can do is get caught completely off guard by a lay off. Asking your boss if everything is ok is not enough. They may not be intentionally lying to you, but they do not want to see their hard working employees any more stressed out. Keep your ears open in the break room and halls. Take notice of any activity out of the ordinary. These could be signs as to the health of the company and ultimately lay offs.

As we embark on 2009, the most important thing we can do is plan. We cannot control the economic environment nor can we control lay offs, but we can prepare ourselves. As we plan for brighter days, remember we have recovered from past recessions and will do so again.

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