PLAN B:  What next?

CONGRATULATIONS!  You have just lowered the nation’s unemployment rate – not to mention your stress level!

But before you settle in on your new employment, take some time to reflect on what you have learned through this stressful episode.

The most important lesson you should have learned is that companies will lay you off in an instant!  The old “gold watch” of many years ago has been replaced by the “pink slip” of today.  Thus, you must always have “Plan B” and constantly be looking for your next opportunity at your next company. Continually ask yourself, “What can I do to make myself more marketable to my next employer?”

Join a professional association.  Preferably more than one.  This is the place to meet the movers and shakers in your field, and to listen to speakers who are the experts.  Attend the meetings regularly and volunteer your time with one of the committees.  In addition to the networking potential, many associations offer job assistance and helpful seminars to their members.  Professional certification is becoming more important, so start working on the one offered by your association.  If you are still in school, join the student arm of those associations before graduation.  Always include your involvement with these groups on your resume and on LinkedIn.

Develop a job network and keep it for the rest of your life.  Once you have a network started, it mushrooms into a priceless resource.  Don’t let it fade away.  Keep in touch occasionally with holiday greeting cards or informative emails. Remember the “value-added emails”?  This is another great use for them.

Be prepared for your next job opportunity.   You never know when it might occur.  Thus, 

Embrace new technology, especially innovations that affect your industry or discipline.  Consider taking classes on these and add it to your resume.

Be flexible on relocation.   Get the experience first, and then you can work on moving where you want to be.   If you like your job, you should be happy wherever it is.

Obtain letters of recommendation for each job you have held and keep them forever.   If you wait until you need one, you may not be able to locate the person.  Ideally, you should obtain one from your former supervisors, as well as major clients, customers and vendors.  Former co-workers or even friends are good too.  Better yet, ask if your sources will write a recommendation on LinkedIn; this is actually preferable because potential employers can see it at any time.  In addition, you can copy/paste these recommendations onto a MS Word document to take to interviews.  Many companies will not allow written recommendations from supervisors anyway, but they may allow a recommendation on LinkedIn.

Check the job boards occasionally to see what jobs are more plentiful, the current “hot jobs” and trends in your industry.  If your industry or company is shrinking, start planning to transfer to a growth field. 

Stay in touch with Headhunters and Recruiters that specialize in your industry.  Let them know of your career objectives and keep them aware of your recent promotions.

Take control of your career and its direction.  Don’t ever again be caught without “Plan B” – or even “Plan C.”

Copyright, ajobs, 2015