Time to take action

It’s time to take some career action

Career Opportunities podcast logoTime to take action
By Douglas E. Welch



Over the last months I have been concentrating on what you need to be thinking about during the economic downturn. Today, though, I want to talk about what you should also be doing. Sometimes fear can cause us to seize up, like a deer in the headlights, instead of focusing on action. It is time to take action for the sake of you and your career. Whether you are recently laid off or still at work, here are some action items to focus on.

First, just because others are being laid off doesn’t mean that opportunities don’t exist for you. With less staff and cost-cutting, some companies may be looking to hire more freelancers to fill the holes in their organization. Freelancers carry less of a burden in benefits and bonuses, even though they might require slightly higher salaries. If you have been thinking of striking out on your own, this could be the time to do it. Sure, it might be a bit more frightening to try freelancing now, but if you can find a diverse collection of clients, it is certainly a possibility. Freelancing in a down period also puts you in place to be offered a full time position once the economy recovers, should you wish.

Despite all the layoffs, certain skills are still in great demand. Almost all the job listings that cross my desk go wanting. There is a great demand for programming talent, especially web-based programming. Project management skills also seem to be important in today’s market. You may find that this downturn has made your skills more valuable and you, more in demand at another company. Don’t think you are stuck with your current employer. You might have more opportunities than you think.

One good aspect of this current downturn is that there are more job search resources than ever before. When I was looking for a job 25 years ago, the Sunday edition of the classified ads was my only resource. I would scour through them, pen in hand, circling companies where I might apply. Then I would have to wait until next week to do it all again. Now, the job search world comes right to your computer and provides you easy ability to search, slice and dice job listings. Even more, these tools can be working for you 24/7 using automated and customized search tools, RSS feeds, email subscriptions and more. This is one area in which a job search is light years ahead of what it once was. Take advantage of it.

There are many more opportunities to network and socialize among your fellow job seekers and hiring businesses today, too. These groups, both online and face-to-face allow everyone to share information and advice and help each other find a job. That said, beware socializing only with other job seekers. This might sound harsh, but you want to avoid falling into the “unemployed” or “victim” mindset. There is always the possibility of this environment turning to complaining, anger and depression. If the mood of a particular group starts to turn dark, you need to remove yourself to avoid damaging your own attitude.

Remember, when you are unemployed, it is a perfect time to mix things up a bit. Change your schedule around. Attend evening events you might have avoided in the past due to an early commute. Work your job search when you are at your highest level of productivity. If you are most awake from 3-5 in the afternoon, focus your energy there. Use your mornings to get some exercise or answer email and phone calls. Schedule lunch meetings with friends who are still working so you have an excuse to clean up and get out during the day. Even follow your normal work schedule, if that is what works best for you.

You’ll find that nearly everyone, including me, say to treat your job search as if it is a job in itself. While your search is certainly important, you should also remember to enjoy the fact that, for this short period of time, you have greater control over your time. You are free from silly bureaucratic busy work. You don’t have to punch in/punch out. You don’t have to do things you don’t want to do. In some ways, this time and the control over it could be the most important resources in finding your next job. You have a chance to explore what you want out of a job and a career. You have a chance to think “what if” and put it into practice. Your future is in your hands, for better or worse. Now is the time to explore it.

Finally, remember that you are not looking for “the next job.” You are looking for the next, BEST job possible. Good career builders don’t just take what is given them. They evaluate what is best for them and their careers at each step. Careers do not happen, they are built. From this succession of BEST careers, comes the career you deserve.

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