It’s a scary looking 2009 if you read the news. Job loss. Economic downturns (corporate speak for things cost more, are not so readily available, and you have less cash to get them). Small communities seeing their two main sources of income wiped out: the local factory and tourism dollars.
Of course, most of my circles are concerned with job loss. I’m getting many calls for ‘tea’ and ‘advice’ from folks who know someone already unemployed and looking to make connections.
Let’s be honest - many of us are not going to be in a position to create or find jobs in the coming year. We’ll either be doing the work of 10 (your job plus everyone who got laid off and wasn’t replaced) and hoping to keep that job - or we’ll be asking for a tea meeting ourselves.
So what can we do?
1 - Networking and mentoring should not start with a crisis. Build your circles and understand your career plan before the stress of losing a pay cheque skews your priorities. A true network (as discussed in earlier posts) - a solid community of support - is of benefit any time.
2 - Don’t be afraid to still have teas and coffees even if you think you don’t have any work leads to offer. An ear, some encouragement, some assistance with fine tuning and helping folks still feel connected is a great place to start. Besides, you never know where a conversation will lead.
3 - Talk with your closest circles now about how you can help ease burdens along the way: an hour of editing for an hour of web page support; a big pot of stew for some errands; a resume re-work for a borrowed new suit. The possibilities are endless.
4 - Think not of moving your career ahead but having time to develop skills and deepen your knowledge. Maybe the opportunities to get new jobs or promotions will be less, but you can use this time to develop yourself. Or maybe taking a different type of job (if it's what is available to you) will offer you that chance to learn something new while we all wait for our own markets to ramp back up.
5 – Watching my son, I’m most impressed with how he and his friends are determined to re-invent how they look for work… really they’re creating their own work. A void is the mother of invention (or so it’s said). They’re coming up with plans, schemes, inventions and projects as the traditional sources of hiring dry up.
If you have entrepreneurial skills, this might be a catalyst for you. If you have a good idea, now might be the time to share it. If there’s something you always wanted to try, the coming year might give you the space and time to try it. The point of influence is now, not when things settle again.
6 – The last time I was laid off, I took the time to figure out not just what I wanted in my career but also the culture that would make me more comfortable. I resolved to only work where I felt welcome and where there was something for me to learn. Where giving back to the community was as important to my employer as it is to me. Etc etc etc. But sometimes you need things to stop before you realize which pieces you’d no longer be willing to pick up.
It will pass. It will. And while it may not be pleasant to pass through (like a bout of pneumonia or stomach flu), it will pass.