A few weeks ago I was in San Diego appearing on a TV news show to discuss the economy and offer some suggestions and ideas about what people could do if they find themselves unemployed.
It struck me that some of my tips may be useful to readers of this blog – or someone you know – recently impacted by the largest recession in 25 years:
1. Consider going solo. Given the amount of dramatic changes affecting organizations and businesses across all sectors, it may be extremely difficult and perhaps impossible to replace your job when it’s lost. Now is the time to think outside of the box. This might just be the turning point opportunity you need to follow a dormant dream to open your own business. Services are still required by organizations and individuals alike, and filling those needs as an entrepreneur may be more satisfying than re-entering the work force. I know that many readers of TechRepublic have embraced this approach; but hear from others who feel it’s less practical for them. To those I say, “What’s practical any longer?”
2. Understand that outsourcing threatens far more roles now than just a year or two ago. If you do choose the corporate route again, keep in mind it may not help for the rest of your working life. Now, more than ever, jobs that were rarely contracted or outsourced are going that route. I’m addressing those in roles like lawyers, journalists, accountants, radiologists, and all sorts of jobs usually not considered. If you (or someone you know) work for a company that’s looking for ways to reduce expenses – you’re no longer “safe” from the turbulence.
3. Do a self-SWOT analysis. For decades, SWOT analysis has been a basic, straightforward model providing strategic direction to organizations worldwide. By assessing a business entity’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, SWOT analysis serves to maximize a business’ chance for success. In the same manner, unemployed individuals should perform a Self-SWOT analysis to identify intrinsic qualities (strengths and weaknesses) that may help or hinder them both in their quest to get back into the workforce AND in the workplace, itself, as well as external issues (opportunities and threats) that may work for or against them in these same regards.
4. Update your skill set. This is a tough one for seniors or others in leadership positions to get their heads around. But, with unemployment now at record highs, there is far more demand for jobs than supply. If, as you rose up the chain in management you didn’t stay on par with others technically you may find yourself in competition with others better suited for a particular job. Take seminars, coursework or leverage other skill enhancement vehicles to get on the leading edge and, thus, maximize your personal value with prospective employers. Strive for your resume to show that you can do various types of work to improve the odds of a job offer.
5. Create a “Personal Action Plan.” Even in difficult times, there are many who thrive despite economic downturns, business closures, and other tumultuous events solely because they have defined goals and strategies. One way to achieve this is with a “Personal Action Plan,” which takes into account the three different facets of life: the professional self, who earns a living; the personal self, who does things for sheer satisfaction; and the financial self, who understands and manages money for both the short and long term. Addressing each of these life elements as a projection of what you want will better assure they manifest.
6. Network online twice as much as you do now. I know you think you know this. But here’s 2 key reasons why you need to do better with your sites and pages: First, now more than ever those in a hiring position are looking to social media to qualify suitable candidates and weed out those who may simply look good on paper. Second, a good presence on sites like Linked In, Plaxo, even Facebook can provide real opportunity to easily go beyond just posting your resume. Some of these sites allow you to express who you are and showcase what you have to offer with far more depth, whether through videos, blog posts or other Web 2.0 strategies that hiring managers and business contacts will appreciate.
7. Stay busy. Going from full speed in a full time job to complete stop at home can be demoralizing and counterproductive. It’s true that the more we do, the more we can do. Invest some of your free time in your local community by volunteering. You’ll be helping others less fortunate while keeping yourself motivated. You’ll also establish new relationships and cultivate existing relationships while your out and about, which could result in an unexpected opportunity or inspired business idea.
8. Recognize that your job now is TO GET A JOB. A recruiter with whom I work recently made a great point when we were talking about a CIO job she was trying to fill. Her question was, “If someone was working 8 hours a day before, why would they spend just 1 or 2 each day looking for their next job?” It’s a good point but I keep hearing from people who tell me that they’ve done everything and there’s nothing else they can do. This is a sure recipe for continued unemployment.
The Fed says that we may be close to the bottom of our unemployment curve. They see a new upward cycle starting by the end of the year. But even if that forecast is accurate, it’s probable that we’ll see many more jobs lost as companies’ results deteriorate. Hopefully, that won’t impact you and you’ll never need to use these 8 tips.