Thursday, October 30, 2008

Career Inklings from Columbia

Storm Clouds Ahead

Janet M. Ruck

Sometimes we need to pay attention to change before it befalls us. Ignoring the signs along the way can create havoc and disruption. Often we are blind to the signs because we are in our comfort zone, and we don’t want to consider the possibility that change can overtake our circumstances. We like where we are and we refuse to think about the fact that perhaps things will be changing.

In my work as a career counselor, I often see very capable individuals become overtaken by change, because they were unwilling to see the trends that were happening around them. They falsely believed that if they kept their heads down, did their work and ignored the environment around them, they’d weather the storm of job layoff or furlough. Working hard in this case was definitely not working smart. They focused myopically straight ahead, and didn’t look left or right. If they had, they would have seen the workplace changing right before them, and they could have prepared themselves for what was happening. Had they been proactive, by facing reality and preparing themselves, they might have been able to take charge of their situations. Instead, they found themselves in a position of being reactive, responding to the environment. They were in a defensive mode. Their careers and lives were turned upside down, and they found themselves in crisis. They had to dig out of a bad situation, with the resulting blows and bruises to their self-esteem and confidence.

Don’t let this happen to you. In these uncertain times, be on the lookout for signs that may be telling you that you need to get ready to make a change now. These are some steps that I have used with my clients to help them protect themselves:

1. Pay attention to trends in your industry, your organization;
2. Develop and maintain a professional identity;
3. Keep your skills updated;
4. Take calculated risks; seize opportunity!
5. Live, work and grow with passion;
6. Know and use your resources, and reciprocate.

If you pay attention, you may be able to minimize the upheaval and potential damage that an unexpected job loss can bring about.

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