This economy is unbelievable. I can’t get over the layoffs, the bailouts, and the overall insanity that unfolds every day in the news. As hard-working, bill-paying citizens, what can we be doing to protect ourselves from losing our jobs? Our homes? Our minds?
You’ll get no argument from me about this Armageddon-esque experience. It definitely seems like we are in some kind of economic freefall, which leaves us all feeling powerless. Along with powerless comes emotions like vulnerable, scared, and out of control, so it’s only natural to question your role in all this.
For starters, remember that, even though it may feel like it, this is not Armageddon. Our nation has handled messy financial downturns before, and we’re still kicking. The problem is that this time, we’re kicking ourselves.
Maybe you let that mortgage company give you enough rope to hang yourself. Perhaps you’re now upside down on that luxury car loan. Or, how about that training or certification you never got around to, which would have likely protected the job you just lost?
The truth is that this economy didn’t happen to us; we happened to this economy. If we knew then what we know now, would we have managed things differently? Sure. We would have paid attention more. We would have spent less.
But isn’t that true of many life experiences? I wouldn’t have believed that being a cheerleader in high school made me more interesting. He wouldn’t have embraced his Boy George phase. She never would have married him. He never would have said that to his mother. We could play this game all day.
Instead of looking backward and pointing the finger at past presidents or selfish executives, let’s face forward and move on. If you have lost your job, make finding the next one your top priority. Resist the urge to zone out on daytime TV wondering “why me?” and get moving instead. Your talents and skills are needed in the world; go out there and put them to work.
That work may look a little different temporarily. You may have to go back to waiting tables for a while, but your ego can handle a temporary shift in your image. Investing in image is, after all, what landed a lot of people in this mess in the first place. And, you might just find a new industry that’s a better fit and a job that you actually like more than the one you lost.
If you do still have your job, invest some time and energy in keeping it. Take stock of how replaceable you are right now. What can you do to position yourself as invaluable to company operations? Can you differentiate yourself in some way? Think like a CEO; how does having you on staff help the business to stay in business?
Can your role shift within the company? If, for example, you handle company events and trade shows, keep in mind that that’s an easy position to cut right now. But when the economy is down, the PR department is expected to do more heavy lifting than ever. Remind your manager that you have five years of PR experience. Emphasize how well the contacts you’ve made at events over the years would support the PR team. Offer up your three most effective and efficient ideas for new initiatives and describe your critical role in executing them.
Polish up the old resume and ask people you respect for critical feedback. If your spouse says “it’s fine, honey,” move on to someone who will tell you the truth. Get it posted on the big web sites like CareerBuiler.com, and don’t forget the smaller, specialized web sites. Try ResumeRabbit.com, which submits your resume to multiple online job sites for you. Utilize keywords that match up with the job description.
Clean up your online profile. Avoid posting pictures of you in Daytona on spring break on your Facebook page. Evaluate your expletives on Twitter. And keep an eye on what others might be saying about you as well. My friend April planned to hire a bright young job candidate…until she found out way too much about him on Don’tDateHimGirl.com.
Google yourself. Remember, even though you may have deleted it, the Internet never forgets. What might a potential employer find?
Check up on your credit report and clean up any errors. Given the current competition for jobs, hiring managers are using every tool in the box to select the best candidate.
Most importantly, take your hand off the big, red, panic button. Decisions made out of fear are the ones we most often regret. Maybe you married the wrong guy because you were afraid of being alone. Perhaps you had that beautiful baby in a futile attempt to save an ugly marriage. We can all point to The Big Fat Mistake(s) we made when fear was in play.
But when we walk around wringing our hands, afraid of losing our jobs or our homes, we’re in a constant state of negativity, panic and hopelessness. Safety, joy and wellness don’t exist there, so we drink too much, eat too much, and stress too much. Then we turn around to find that we now have even more problems to manage.
Stay informed, but stay positive, too. Limit your exposure to the news, because the daily negativity can be truly overwhelming. For every headline story you take on, read a feel-good feature story about someone doing some good in the world or watch something goofy on YouTube.
Your mindset is as important as any other component of your strategy to achieve the work and the life you want.