Recession-Proof Your Career (Part I of II)

Misti Burmeister
April 9, 2009 — 2,366 views  
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He called me, panic in his voice, looking for support in finding his next job. While he made it through this round of layoffs with "minor" bruising (a pay cut), Tim knows his company is on a downward spiral - and his job is on the line.  

If this sounds familiar - and I bet it does for most people right now - keep reading. 

Tim works in an industry that - like most - is taking a big hit right now. But when things first started to sour, he thought he'd be exempt from the downsizing. Since he's the only one in his office who understands the software needed to run an important program, he felt safe. Now, with the next round of layoffs lurking, he's concerned management might decide he's not as indispensable as he thought.  

Now every time his phone rings, his heart jumps into his throat as he wonders, "Might it my boss calling to request an urgent meeting so she can let me go or cut my pay once again?" 

With no time to waste, we immediately got to work on what Tim needs to do to ensure he has a career, regardless of what happens to his company:  

Step One - Take Notes: Tim created a list of the following: skills he most enjoys using, experiences he has enjoyed most and companies/organizations he most wants to contribute to (i.e. work for). 

Step Two - Utilize and Expand Your Network: While it was natural for Tim to send a résumé to a contact or ask friends to help him find a job, the idea of simply reconnecting with old business acquaintances was foreign. The majority of people are calling on their networks to "help them," which is why Tim (and you) needed to approach his networks differently. (Want more information on this? E-mail me). 

Step Three - Target: Tim could easily name three companies he highly respects/admires and knows well. Most people shoot off as many darts as possible, with absolutely no focus, and pray something will connect. Want better odds? Pick just three companies and focus on getting to know the ins and outs of those organizations - and figuring out what value you could add to their bottom lines.  

Step Four - Prepare Your Résumé and Cover Letters: Tim's current résumé and cover letters were not unique, so he needed to do something different to stand out. First, he geared each cover letter to the company at which he was applying. Most people create one generic letter and hope someone will see value. Mistake! Pretend you are a hiring employer. Wouldn't you want to know how each candidate could make your life easier? So, be specific about how you can add value to this particular company.  

Step Five - Conduct Informational Interviews: Tim is currently making phone calls and sending e-mails to the HR departments and to people in specialized positions within the companies he likes, requesting informational interviews. He understands the purpose of these interviews is to ask questions about the companies and learn about the people - rather than simply talking about himself and asking for a job. His plan is to begin developing relationships with these people. If he lands a job in the process, great! 

Step Six - Focus: Tim was finding himself regularly engaged in "the sky is falling" conversations with co-workers. Those water cooler conversations are a huge waste of time and energy. If the conversation isn't serving you, don't serve the conversation. Disengage and refocus on your job and steps 1-5.  

To ensure you never have to worry about your job again, stay tuned for Part II of this series.  

Rock on!

Misti Burmeister

Inspirion Inc.

Burmeister brings more than a decade of professional experience to her work with diverse clientele, including organizations like AT&T, UPS, Marriott International, Choice Hotels, U.S. Army and Navy, Wal-Mart and Johnson & Johnson Company. As a result of her hands-on coaching, clients have seen significant improvements in employee retention, ultimately contributing to their bottom lines. One organization saw a 90 percent reduction in its turnover rate! Her timely contributions are catching the attention of the media, businesses and even the government. She's been quoted in the Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post and The Washington Times. Combining humor with hard-hitting information delivered with "an amazing amount of energy," she's earned acclaim for providing real, quantitative and effective steps that empower and bring out the best in multi-generational organizations "“ immediately.