(10) Tips for Surviving Your Career: Be Prepared

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One day you wake up to find out that you have been downsized out of a job at IBM or Boeing.  You’re in your mid-30’s and have worked as an employee for the company for ten years while thinking your job was protected from a lay-off! 


Not so, in this slippery economy anything can happen.  You can never be too confident that your position is not at risk.  So take control of your own career and learn how to survive it.


As difficult as it is in this business environment, you still can still protect yourself from unemployment, if you follow my advice for surviving your career in the long term.  The first step is to be an expert in you given industry by reading, writing and talking about what you do.  Keep your skills current by taking classes when needed, reading trade magazines and attending seminars.



  • Brand yourself.  Spend time determining what image you need to convey to your company and clients that is all yours. Own your image…make yourself a standout.

  • Create a business plan for your career.  Set up a strategy for one year, three years and five years.  This will force you to focus on what you want from your current job and the steps needed to insure your success in the long term.

  • Pay attention to signs that your job may be eliminated.  Are you getting along with your boss?  Is your company struggling financially or reorganizing?  Do the skills you perform still offer value to your employer?

  • Work on your organizational skills.   A well-organized desk helps you organize your mind.  Don’t let the clutter in life get you distracted.  Stay off of the media sites during the day. Don’t use Facebook & Twitter unless you can use them to directly impact your business!  Otherwise, they distract you and waste your valuable time and your employers.

  • Consider whether you are still passionate about what you do while you are still employed!  Passion sells, but you need to plan for a change in careers.  If you would rather be doing something else in your life, then you need to plan for it when you have cash flow coming in, not when you are laid off.


  • Leverage your current skills by identifying what they are.  Are you an excellent communicator?  Are you a good detail person? Just what are your skills that make you successful at what you are doing?  You need to know what value you offer to a company.

  • Gather written referrals from bosses, colleagues, and subordinates before you need a job.  Build a file on yourself, so when you do have to make a job change you have current job references.


  • Build your network– Create a meaningful network.  I don’t mean register on every social site available which leads to a database of names, but no real connections.  Use these sites as a resource for people you’ve lost track of and want to re-connect with.  Set up meetings with contacts from past jobs and your personal life to re-connect.  Share information with them and they will help you.  Make sure you think of ways you can give back.

  • Join and attend business group associations in your given industry that you can contribute your time to by joining committees and becoming an officer.  Attend business group’s breakfast/lunches as a non-member in industries you may be interested in to meet people and learn about their business as a potential career opportunity.  

 You’ll need to reinvent yourself many times in your career.  Pay attention to the signs that your industry may be slowing and add new skills and education to assure you have a job. The one constant you can count on in the job market is that there will be change.  Be prepared for it and pay attention to the signs.



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