The Career Safety Net
Guest Post by Frances Schmidt
Are you a graduate or seasoned professional who has just lost your job, or will soon? Are you a part of the baby boomer generation who thought you would never have to worry about being unemployed? Have you prepared a career safety net? If not, it’s never too late to create one now.
In today’s uncertain global job market it’s more important than ever to have multiple career strategies. Call it an economic downsizing, outsourcing, a layoff, getting fired, or quitting. When and if it happens to you the experience and feelings are universal. Only the situation is different. Your immediate reaction is shock, fear, and frustration because it feels like the bottom just fell out of all your hopes and dreams.
Career disappointments can happen to anyone. It may be your first job or your fourth. You may be in your 20’s, 50’s or 60’s in a high level position. Now is the time to prepare a self evaluation and answer the age old question, “What do I want to be after I grow up?” It’s a question you must always ask yourself when you are in the middle of a career/life transition.
The reality is that you are and always will be your own career safety net. You can begin with a detailed self-evaluation of your work values, skills/transferable skills, goals, self-confidence and ability to take educated risks. In today’s job market, everyone who is or will be employed is vulnerable. The only constant is the power of networking and the creation of several career options. If you were caught by surprise you may be asking yourself what did I do wrong? Why is it so tough to get hired? I’ve done everything I was taught or told to do and now I can’t get hired. Actually, you did nothing wrong.
In the past most individuals who graduated from college or worked their way up through the ranks could count on retiring from the same employer. Now no one, not even the experts, can predict career marketability. Even when you’re employed in a job you love you must connect with others inside and outside your career field. You must have to have multiple employment options just in case.
It’s important to give up old job search ideas and expectations for now. What used to be is no longer valid! You must keep informed, cross train, and learn how to develop, and use not abuse your networking contacts. Employers are also struggling with cut backs and want to hire more employees with less cost.
Be prepared to ask for help. Your career safety net is based on your strength and ability to stay positive under tremendous pressure. Multiple careers are now the norm. Professional partnerships and mentors can help you develop a strong net of support. Re-evaluate the past for present potential. Make changes happen today by developing an action plan. Focus on small baby steps. While you’re temporarily unemployed volunteer in related activities and work a part time job if you have to. They will help you handle the uncertainty of your employment situation and help you to develop a comfortable career safety net of choices.
You can make career choices for now, although sometimes they create challenging circumstances. Mostly they provide opportunities to revise, resolve, and reconsider your work, personal values and career goals. How do you begin preparing a strong career safety net? After you have completed research on yourself and can define your top priority job career goal, you must begin to identify alternative employment goals. If you have to take an alternative job, look at it as temporary while you continue to find ways to stay involved in your top priority career goal. Yes it will be difficult because you only have a limited amount of time. Even if you only have a few extra hours a week you can do it! It’s the safety net of options that will keep you involved in the hidden job market.
Start a safety net journal and ask and answer the following questions.
- Who will be my next employer and why?
- How can I create and tap into the hidden job opportunities?
- Do you have accurate information about yourself and your future employer?
The answers to the above questions can motivate and energize your job search. You can and will get hired if you never give up. Each day do something to move your job search forward. It will make you stronger and confident in your ability to be resilient. Successful job hunters often have a past consisting of some failures. It’s how they learned to overcome job loss.
Frances Schmidt is a multifaceted Student Affairs Administrator and Author with career counseling, teaching, community service, and leadership experience. A proactive professional, Ms. Schmidt is dedicated to helping individuals accomplish their highest level of achievement and personal growth. Following 20 years of career counseling including work as Director of Career Services at D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY, she is currently the owner of F.R.S. Career & Retirement Counseling, providing individuals with assistance and direction in a variety of personal transitions. She is the author of Getting Hired in Any Job Market 2001 and Getting Hired Handbook for College Graduates.