Career Management During Trying Times -- Be Ready

The past six months has been a struggle for most businesses, no matter what industry sector. Airlines have laid off staff and flight schedules have been reduced while the manufacturing sectors have furloughed as well as permanently laid off staff. Small business owners such as women’s clothing, restaurants and convenience stores are all suffering. And unfortunately, it looks like more is coming.

The past six months has been a struggle for most businesses, no matter what industry sector. Airlines have laid off staff and flight schedules have been reduced while the manufacturing sectors have furloughed as well as permanently laid off staff. Small business owners such as women’s clothing, restaurants and convenience stores are all suffering. And unfortunately, it looks like more is coming.

Government has stepped in as best it can to help ease the pain of unemployment, but as the pandemic continues, so will cuts to the job market. More layoffs and job losses will simply become routine. However, while economists are looking at the big picture and making their predictions, the average out-of-work individual is looking closely at both the status of their career as well as their day-to-day expenses and struggling to predict how they will survive.

At the same time, those individuals still hanging on to their jobs also have a heavy weight on their shoulders as the news about potential layoffs in their industry continue on a daily basis. As might be expected, their worry causes anxiety and sleepless nights as well. Yet, one way to tackle this anxiety is to sit down and prepare as best you can for a potential layoff. The following are some basic tactics to help create a career and financial plan for that "just in case" scenario.

Understand the benefit plans - Consult with your human resource professional and be sure you understand your employee benefit plan. If layoffs will be forthcoming inquire if your benefits will continue for a period of time. Ask what will happen to your pension if you have one? And consult a retirement specialist before you even think about cashing out your pension plan.

Employment standards legislation requires payment in lieu of notice and usually some sort of severance package is also offered. Check this out and determine what you are entitled to. Also be sure to check out information on the current unemployment benefits prior to any layoff, especially now that the CERB is reverting back to regular employment insurance. Make it your business to understand everything about the benefits your employer as well as the government offers.

Financial assessment - Ensuring at least a three-month financial cushion for emergencies has long been a standard financial management strategy. However, with the recent news about increasing family debt, there is a good chance many people have not been following this recommendation. Therefore, the first step is to assess just what your financial situation is. Then, if you are not doing so already, create a budget with all your expenses and income and work out a plan you can live with.

Credit Assistance - If you find yourself in a challenging situation, the sooner you deal with it the better. Forget any embarrassment, get yourself to a credit counsellor as quick as you can. In times such as this pandemic, creditors are being as accommodating as they can. Take advantage.

Needs/wants - Being home bound for a couple of months during the early stages of the pandemic has helped many people to realize their behaviour has often reflected a "wants" versus needs lifestyle. In other words, it has become clear how many "wants" individuals were responding to versus a real "need". So, be sure to take time to assess your true needs versus wants, as this can help really help contain your costs and trim your spending.

Career assessment - Don’t wait to be laid off to do a career assessment. In fact, I suggest you do a self-assessment every year. Develop what is called a "career lifeline" to identify all your lifetime jobs. Document the jobs you enjoyed and excelled in and identify the skills you used. Focus on your current job and document specific tasks and responsibilities including supervision, the nature of problems solved, and resources that you have responsibility for. Revise your resume and use a skills approach rather than focusing on where you worked.

Ditch the job title - It is important to keep in mind that you are not simply your "job title". In other words, you are a bundle of skills that can be transferred to numerous other jobs. Not only that, but almost every employer has their own set of job titles which could represent similar skills to your current or most recent job. As well, you might have a hobby that enables you to offer skills that could take you to a totally new job.

Document your network - Make a list of all the people that you communicated with on a regular basis at work. This includes colleagues as well as external vendors and customers. Identify relationships in different industry sectors and determine who you could easily turn to for advice. This list is a really valuable asset and will become your networking list when you are ready to search for a job.

Work your network - Most new jobs are either found through an established network and/or someone in the network provided a reference that was helpful to you. Keep in touch with this network as best you can. Normally, this would be through various meetings, telephone calls, visitations, emails and more recently through the varied social media tools. The purpose here is to keep in touch with a focus on the relationship rather than a job search. If you build a relationship, those individuals will be there for you when you need them.

Use social media - There are many social media sites where you can post your resume and/or join a new network. Facebook and Linkedin are the most popular. Know also that executive search and placement agencies scour these sites looking for candidates. Touch base with these sites regularly as jobs are posted and/or someone is notifying the network about opportunities.

Think differently - This pandemic crisis might well be a good time to take a whole new direction. Perhaps entrepreneurship is a route you would like to take. If you are still working but anticipate a layoff, then investigate an opportunity to start your own business. Don’t limit yourself. For instance, as a consultant and/or a remote worker, you can sell your services to many different businesses. Perhaps you have a hobby that could be turned into a business. Be creative, don’t limit yourself.

There’s an old saying that we shouldn’t wait for life to happen, we need to make it happen. There is a lot of truth to this statement and it can be applied equally as well to this challenging pandemic situation. The message is, don’t just wait for a layoff, take charge of your career. Be ready for anything and get ahead of the challenge.

Let’s Get You Ready for the New Job!

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