Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wall Street Writedowns Equal Job Meltdowns

Anxiety exists on almost every corner on Wall Street.

The NY Times report citing that nearly half of Wall Street's bank profits are gone with more bad news and job cuts on the horizon qualifies as one of the most stress-inducing articles I’ve read in a while. Citing the marquee firms - Goldman, Lehman, Citi, Merrill, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, as having their earnings gutted, is a graphic description of the carnage.

“Huge writedowns”, “giant erasers” and “weird limbo” are just a few of the phrases in this article guaranteed to strike fear in all those involved in financial services. From employees and shareholders to companies that rely on the stability of the financial community … angst is becoming a constant companion.

No doubt about it - there are serious problems at many of today’s financial firms. But it’s not the first time Wall Street has undergone large-scale layoffs. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.

The daily barrage of scary stories and resultant distress are counterproductive to thinking straight and moving forward. Smart career management is your best remedy.

Get your priorities straight

Whatever the current job, it is only a single piece of the bigger picture … your career. If you feel like you’re currently working in an earthquake zone, move to solid ground. Actively seek out new opportunities and/or better manage your current situation.

The obvious actions

Sharpen the tools in your career management kit. Ensure your resume is current and speaks to the value you can add. Broaden your network and actively seek out those well positioned in your industry. Research smaller companies that often benefit when the larger players are retrenching. And touch base with key recruiters to guarantee you’re on their radar screen.

The subtleties

Strengthen your value to your employer. The tougher things are at work, the more visible you want to be. Far better to be in the center of the action than off somewhere on the periphery. Fortify your relationship with your boss. Ask if you can take some of the priority projects off his/her desk and onto yours. Improve your skill sets. Critically examine your contributions to the company. Try making yourself invaluable. It’s harder to fire a key contributor.

Don’t let fear mongers make you nervous … job meltdowns aren’t career meltdowns.

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