Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Contemplating A Career Change

What will you do if you don’t find work in your chosen field?

If jobs across the board start to dry up, what options will you pursue?

Those are the questions I raise to clients as the crisis in the credit markets threatens to grind commerce to either a snail’s pace or complete halt. The significant increase in the number of impending layoffs and the possibility of widespread hiring freezes underscore the importance of knowing those answers.

Fewer jobs, more candidates

One certainty that will emerge from the current economic situation is that in the short term, more people will be vying for fewer jobs.

Some looking for work in this crowded job market will come up empty. Even after they’ve made all the right moves … responding to ads, contacting headhunters, networking, exploring smaller companies, out-of-area opportunities and different industries … they’ll still be unemployed.

Plan B

If it appears that no one is hiring your skill, at your level or in your field, what are your alternatives? What else can you do?

First, redouble your efforts. Go back and start the campaign all over again. Explore deeper, improve your focus and push harder. Many times, those who put in the most effort get the best rewards.

But these are not ordinary times. When the economy is running as usual, changing jobs is often easier than changing careers. But in times like these, when it’s business as unusual, career changing may prove to be a necessity.

Plan C

The plan of last resort, like the “lender of last resort” addresses basic survival.

How can you earn sufficient dollars to maintain a desired lifestyle if your traditional career path is blocked?

What to pursue and how to pursue it are as individualized as the people, jobs, services and products in the workplace. No one size fits all. Each individual’s options can be as broad, diverse and as “out of the box” as the range of their talent, skills, interests, abilities … and risk tolerance.

Unfortunately, most executives don’t consider career changing until all other avenues have been exhausted and both their resources and nerves have been frayed. That’s one of the biggest mistakes they can make.

If you don’t have a viable plan that spells out what you’ll do should your job search be protracted and unproductive, you’re choosing to ignore a potential reality.

That’s a choice you can’t afford to make.

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