Newsweek, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post were sold in the past 10 days, for about 5% of what they were worth a decade ago.
Old fame fades. Old treasures dull. Old values disappear.
What happens when the sun sets on you, dear Reader?
When the clever things you did in your twenties, and the book learning you picked up in school, and even the scars on your back from your thirties, lose their relevance to the modern corporation?
What will you do then?
Because I can tell you, you’re not going to want to take a 95% haircut the way Newsweek and the newspapers did.
We used to think that famous old companies and America’s greatest cities were somehow safer than the brand new start-up on the corner or the overnight boomtown.
But the past few years have given us plenty of examples of how even the strongest succumb to time and troubles: Detroit, GM, New Orleans, American Airlines, Lehman Brothers… No company, no institution, no city is safe from change.
So the worrisome thought for you – with your family to support, mortgage to pay off, and bills coming in – is…
What would you do if you got fired today?
What if your employer suddenly went bankrupt, belly-up, beyond the horizon in a boat made of lead?
And the important thing to realize is that the best time to put together a plan for “what if I got fired today” is the time long before you actually need it.
That time is now.
So I’ve put together nine tips for insuring against unemployment by keeping yourself employable:
Be thankful. At the end of each workday, write down one thing you enjoyed or appreciated that day. Just send yourself an email with two sentences: “What I liked about today was how Abby handled the new client call. It makes me proud to be a part of her team.” Small bits of gratitude remind you of why you took the job in the first place, and help reinforce your willpower to handle the rough times. If you do this every day, you’ll find yourself being more appreciative for your work and your colleagues.
Show gratitude. At the start of each workday, email one colleague, vendor, or partner, and thank them specifically for something they’ve done for you. Showing your gratitude to others is just plain nice, but it also lets others know what you enjoy and would like to see from them. It doesn’t have to be long:
“Steve – just wanted to say that you did a great job at the planning meeting yesterday and I thought you handled the question about the 2013 budget cycle very professionally.”
The world will become appreciative of you for being so gracious. Over time, you’ll find that makes working together a richer and more enjoyable experience.
Download our app. TheLadders iPhone app makes it very easy to keep an eye on the market, see the bios of people applying for jobs at your level, and give HR people and recruiters the wink when you’re looking for something new. Download our iPhone app today (Android coming soon….)
Become the #2 person in a local Meetup group in your area of specialty. Meetups are local groups that meet to discuss areas of common interest. There are over 100,000 Meetup topics that cover everything from Marketing to Erlang to Business Law and more. Find one you like, start attending and contributing, and see how you can help organize. And if the right Meetup doesn’t exist in your town yet, you could even be the founder!
Keep up with the latest. Sign up for one new service each month on your iPhone or Android. Ask your nephews, cousins, or the sharp woman in IT at work for recommendations. Sign up for something new and play with it for 15 minutes. You don’t have to love it – sometimes being able to explain why you don’t like a service or product is more valuable to an employer.
Get 100 followers on Twitter that you don’t know. Interact with people in your industry and your area and build yourself a little safety net. It might take a week or it might take a year, but getting a community outside of your immediate work can actually feel very liberating.
Stay connected. Once a year, reach out to your old bosses and let them know how you’re doing. Anybody who has invested the time, effort, and attention in getting your head screwed on straight will likely enjoy hearing how you’ve turned out (and take credit if the result is positive!)
Stay in touch. Once a month, go to lunch with an old colleague, a former co-worker or a college classmate. Face-to-face, nacho-to-nacho, is the only way to keep true human relationships going. So break bread, grab a drink, or meet before work to share your experiences and trials.
Keep connections warm. Go through all your contacts, e-mails, Rolodex, whatever and find fifty people from your industry that you wouldn’t ‘normally’ speak with in the next year. Assign those fifty people to the next fifty weeks – one person per week.
Each week, e-mail just that one person with a reminder that you exist and that you remember them:
“Hey Jerry, I was just thinking about how great it was to meet you at the annual show in Chicago. I wonder if that re-engineering project of yours ever finished! Well, stay in touch, and let me know if you’re ever in my town or want a few tips on the golf course/ Settlers of Catan / sample sales sites I was telling you about…”
Look, the worst time to get up to speed on your tech skills, positive demeanor and networking chops is when you find yourself laid off or about-to-be-laid-off.
So it’s important that you keep up your ability to find new employment just in case disaster strikes.
With these nine tips, and just 15 minutes a day – between meetings, between flights, between weekend soccer games – you’ll keep yourself safe by purchasing the best type of unemployment insurance… employability.
Have a great week in the search,
I’ll be rooting for you!