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Career Obstacles

We’ve all faced major challenges: from overcoming the shock of a divorce and the need to re-enter the job market to forging an entirely new path with little to no experience. These are surmountable and we’ll show you how.

With the United States in the midst of a recession – and other countries falling victim to global recession every day – right now is when all of us should be taking stock of our situations, assessing our jobs and developing a career safety net. Even if your job may be at risk, your entire career doesn’t have to be in jeopardy. In a challenging economic climate it is important to evaluate and protect the position you’re in, while preparing for all possible contingencies.

Showcase Your Accomplishments

Protect: Ignore the conventional wisdom that times of trouble mean you should be quiet, bury your head in the sand and do your job. Definitely do your job – and do it really well – but be visible and vocal about your contributions. Make sure your boss – and even your boss’s boss – knows what you’re doing and how well you’re doing it. If your knowledge and contributions are viewed as essential to the company, there’s less of a chance you’ll be fired or laid off, so it’s up to you to communicate your value before a decision has been made to eliminate your job.

Prepare: Make sure that as you move through your career you are keeping a brag folder. This folder should include a recent list of achievements and copies of any recognition or kudos you’ve received. Don’t wait for a pink slip to figure out what you’d put on a resume to account for the last several years of your career. Check out these resume templates for guidance in showcasing your skills, abilities and accomplishments.

Pal Around with the Right People

Protect: The cynics call this “sucking up”. We call it saving your job. In every company there are power brokers and all-stars. Those people can be great allies in times of trouble. They can help protect your job by fighting to keep your position alive during discussions about where cuts should be made. If you’re not already friendly with such folks, get to know them now. Volunteer to help with a key project, participate in meetings, or even come in early/stay late if that’s the best way to get some face time with influential people.

Prepare: The classic mistake is waiting to call all of those long lost friends and former colleagues only when you need something. Check in with them now. Make a list of 50 people who you know but who aren’t part of your inner circle. It’s not difficult to think of that many acquaintances if you push yourself. Having this list handy will also put you one step ahead of the game should you find yourself needing to start a job search.

Educate Yourself on Economic Realities

Protect: Instead of waiting for the news to come to you, seek it out on your own. Assess your company’s health by reading daily media coverage of your company, its industry and your surrounding area. Pay attention to the water cooler and cafeteria chatter within your company. Look for cues and clues about your employer’s financial stability, such as internal cutbacks that may come in the form of canceling events or other forms of retrenchment.

Prepare: Get a sense of who’s hiring and what’s hot. Attend free career fairs, participate in free online Webinars, and search the online job boards. If you know your skills aren’t up to par in today’s competitive workplace, invest in education through online courses or continuing education programs in your area.

Consider Making a Move

Protect: During a recession, the first cuts are typically made in what are considered support positions such as administrative, human resources, marketing, public relations and customer service. If you have the ability to transfer within your company to a profit center – sales, for example – that may be something to consider. If you can solve costly problems or save big bucks in your current role, get busy doing that because you can be just as valuable if you save money as someone who brings it in.

Prepare: Ask yourself, “If I didn’t have this job, what would I love to be doing?” Also ask, “If this job went away tomorrow, where could I see myself working?” Put those answers on paper. Be comprehensive. It could be a move to a competitor or it could be a whole other industry. You might dream of starting your own business. This exercise is the start of a roadmap—you have to know where you might go before you can actually get there.

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