“Well, I lost my job today. To all my Tech friends, let me know of any Mac tech support jobs.” That was the post that went up on Facebook! As I knew this individual, I immediately reached out to see how I could help. Since I had a lot of friends in tech, I was sure I could get his resume into the right hands. What happened next kind of took me back.
His response to me was this: “I will have to get back to you as I need to update (my resume).” Let’s see, you have been with this company for close to six years and you have not updated your resume? But meanwhile, he kept everyone updated on Facebook with his posts.
That reminded me of another friend who told me that she has been trying to find a job but could not get any bites. When I reviewed her profile, all she had was basically job title, dates of employment, and that was it. And then you wonder why?
I got a notice that a former colleague of mine from many years back, someone who would be considered a Baby Boomer, just created a LinkedIn page. When we spoke and discussed “why now?”, she said she just had not gotten around to it. Meanwhile she was wondering why she could not find anything with all the resumes she sent out.
Developing situational awareness on your career
If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times: You own your career. No one else does. Never leave your career development to your employer. In this day and age, everyone has to look out for the next opportunity. Always have a situational awareness of what is going on around you.
You have to always be prepared for the next step. My father had a term, “always keep your eyes looking through the crack.” In case that someone walks in and you are let go, were you aware that this might be coming up? What signals was your organization giving off? Was the recent earnings call talking about heavy losses?
Excuses: Only good for the person that makes them
But then again, let’s say that you were not aware and were blindsided. That is still no excuse for not being prepared. Always think in terms that if you were let go the next day that you would have some kind of a plan to move forward.
The worse time to update a resume or profile is when you have just lost your job. Your mind is not in a mood to update. You can’t remember half the things that are important that you need to update. In other words, after a layoff you are not functioning on all cylinders.
Managing a career is a 24 hour job. Your thought process should be on medium to high alert at any given time. I am constantly amazed by people who never give this a thought. They mindlessly do the same thing each and every day, and in a lot of cases, they hate what they do.
My constant comeback for that crowd of job-haters is, “What do you plan to do about it?
7 things you should be doing
So my advice to everyone is the following:
Your career is yours and you will determine the trajectory. Don’t wait until you’re fired, laid off, burned out or fed up to revitalize your career. Manage your career on an ongoing basis, particularly through the good times. Never “dig the well when you need the water.” Always keep that ultimate goal in sight.
Every encounter and conversation should be looked on as an interview. You never know where the next opportunity is going to come from. The people that you encounter every day could be the basis for the next opportunity.
Network, network and then network some more. Do not wait till you are in desperation mode to reach out to people for help. Keep connected through good times as well as bad. People can smell you a mile away if, out of the clear blue, you just happen to reach out for a lunch, or coffee date, or something similar.
Focus on self-awareness, self-management, and situational awareness. Always be aware of what is going on around you. Your life is important and it is your duty to keep your eyes open to and try not to ever get into a situation where you are “ambushed” and caught totally off guard. But then if it does happen through no fault of your own, you still have a game plan that you can use because you have already given it thought.
Learn to listen. I am always amazed that when I coach people, regardless of the conversation, they have an answer for everything. Constructive updates are met with a pat answer. So my question is this: If you have all the answers, why are you not making progress? My father has another saying—“you can learn a lot more listening than you can talking.”
Be reflective. What really happened? Are you being honest and true to yourself as to why you are in this predicament? It can’t always be the organization's fault. Someone I knew had a recent history where in his last two jobs he has been let go within six months. He finally came to the realization that yes, he was the problem. Lesson learned
Find mentors. Stop sharing your issues with everyone you come in contact with. That friend that can’t get her life together should not be your career coach. The Internet is a treasure trove of informative articles on career development. If you can, hire a coach, but remember in the end it is your career and life. If not, ask someone who you admire and may be where your ultimate goal is.
We can’t always be prepared for everything that life throws at us, but we can be prepared for the what if.