How do you create a Plan B for your career?
Jobs may have been a long-term proposition once, but the modern workplace has upended that. Be it corporate changes, poor financial performance or changing work practices, jobs and consequently careers have come under the chopping block. For instance, India’s multibillion-dollar information technology industry is bracing for challenging times with the onset of automation and visa rule changes in a key market like the US. Downsizing has been rampant this year, with both startups and corporates giving staff pink slips.
Anne Kreamer, author of Risk/Reward, which deals with navigating the chaotic work climate, says: “There is zero loyalty or security.” Clearly, the only certainty in the working world is uncertainty.
But there’s no need to despair if your Plan A didn’t work. After all, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet. All you need to do is have a back-up plan handy. We tell you how you can keep working on Plan B so that it’s ready to go at all times.
1. Update your resume and social media
Rejigging your resume seems like a waste of time when you’re in a job that you’re enjoying, but crisis has a habit of sneaking up on you and it’s important to be prepared. Make things easier on yourself by updating your accomplishments and skills every quarter. A “brag” folder in your inbox is perfect for storing super client/boss feedback for when you may need it. Repost the updated CV on job sites and also make relevant changes on social media sites.
2. Keep working on your network
Everyone knows that the key to career success lies in networking. It doesn't do to become complacent if you're not in the market for a job; a superb network is a dealmaker for Plan B. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford professor of organizational behaviour, in his ebook writes that networking is “crucial for getting things accomplished”. Participate in shared activities at the workplace, sign up for networking meets and attend school reunions. Work on expanding your network organically and ensure that it isn’t inbred.
3. Hone your existing skills
It's your existing skill set that got you your current job, so keep refining it. Your work, like you, continues to evolve and your skills need to keep pace. If you're into IT, crack into the next set of applications that no one knows about. If you're a fitness trainer, get a new certification. Don't forget to polish your soft skills, be it communication, teamwork, adaptability or conflict resolution. Think of yourself as an ongoing project and keep trying to better yourself.
4. Be open to new things
You may be an architect, but if your main interest is comedy writing, there’s no reason why you should not pursue it on the side. Keep yourself open to new experiences – hobbies, side projects, learning new skills or pursuing online courses – to stay agile during a period of uncertainty. Kreamer writes: “You are going to be in a much better position if you have broadened your network, if you have relationships in a variety of fields, if you've done a bunch of things and failed at them. Then you have resiliency.”
5. Make a list of dream companies
Even if you are extremely happy in your current job, it’s never a good idea to settle. Aspiring for more is a sure-shot way to progress and grow. Compiling a list of dream companies with their websites, any contacts you have there and links to their jobs pages is a great idea. It gives you somewhere to get started – a quality somewhere – in case you need to action Plan B. Revisit your spreadsheet once in a while to know if any interesting openings are available.
6. Collect all essential data
In these times, layoffs often involve people being asked to go – going so far as to be told to vacate the premises the same day. Stay on top of your data – work samples, files, documents, photos - and all the things that can further your career. Back up all that you’re allowed to by your employment policies on to a personal hard disk every quarter.
Apart from these tips, experts suggest having a ready-to-send email template. You can, after a few modifications, shoot it off to friends and people in your network in case of an emergency.
Don’t give up if Plan A didn’t pan out; turn your focus to Plan B. If you need help tweaking your resume or reaching out to potential employers, get professional help here.