We used to think that 100-year-old firms were somehow safer than the brand new start-up on the corner, but the past few years have given us plenty of examples of how dangerous it can be to be in any industry, at any time: Lehman Brothers, GM, American Airlines, Dewey & LeBeouf, Chrysler, and other famous names have all found themselves in bankruptcy since the crisis broke.
So the worrisome thought for you — with your family to support, mortgage to pay off, and bills always coming in — is…
What would you do if you got fired today?
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 well 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 — Marc.” 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.
Have an opinion. Write one contrarian and one trend blog post on your industry per month. 350 words is all you need. That’s literally two minutes of talking out loud. You can talk for two minutes out loud, can’t you?
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 PHP 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. Read the NY Times Tech reporters Jenna Wortham and Nick Bilton — they write on cutting edge technology. Sign up for one of the services they mention 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….”
With these nine tips, and just 15 minutes a day — between meetings, between flights, in the car — 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!