Career Disaster Planning

» Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in coaching, interviews, job search, networking | Comments Off on Career Disaster Planning

Career Disaster Planning

With the onset of summer comes the arrival of Hurricane Season. Over here on the West Coast, we find ourselves fairly immune to hurricanes but having almost all of my family in Louisiana reminds me that I can’t ignore hurricanes entirely.

The National Hurricane Center has a three step guide to disaster management:

  1. Gather Information
  2. Plan and Take Action
  3. Recover

This is a powerful metaphor for a unplanned job search. It could be a company-wide layoff or an unexpected firing that’s forcing you into the market.  Perhaps your job seems secure, perhaps you are content and nothing appears to be likely to change. But as history has shown, the economy can change overnight and being prepared for the worst while hoping for the best is a smart way to be protected.

Gather Information

Your field of expertise is always changing. Technological advances, fresh blood in the job market, and educational changes are ensuring that every industry is constantly developing. The first step in staying prepared is to keep yourself educated and up-to-date in your industry.

Flight attendants, mail carriers and newspaper reporters can tell you that being on top of a changing industry isn’t enough. Knowing what opportunities exist outside of your company or, in some cases, even outside your line of work, is another way to give yourself some flexibility and job security. Not only are you more valuable to your current company, but you are educated about what other avenues you might pursue if your job suddenly disappears. Check out this article on where the jobs will be in 2020 to see if your industry is headed for some fallout.

Plan and Take Action

Creating an evacuation route, purchasing supplies, and readying your home for a storm are all crucial in weathering a hurricane. Similarly, having a well thought out strategy for securing new employment should your current situation falter is vital. You may have no reason to think you need an updated resume, LinkedIn profile, or contact list. However, think of these pieces as having your flashlights and candles, bottled water, and emergency food stores. You hope you won’t need them, and chances are you won’t. But keep them a priority nevertheless.

Set an alarm on your phone to revise and update your resume monthly. Add recent accomplishments, trainings, and promotions. Remove dated information that is no longer relevant. Visit your LinkedIn profile weekly. Check in with your contacts and familiarize yourself with their happenings. Set a coffee date with a colleague once a month. Chat about advancements in your field, talk about his company and other companies in your line of work. Have a friendly, yet informative meeting. There is nothing negative that can come from this contact. You share an hour with a friend and you maintain a strong network of contacts which will be priceless in the case of an unforeseen job emergency.


If the worst happens, and you find yourself laid off, underemployed, or dissatisfied with your job, you are now prepared to move on. You have a strategy, a system, and a schedule. Rather than scrambling to update your resume, your online presence, and your contact list, in just a few keystrokes, you can position yourself into a very competitive place to secure new employment. Your resume is current and polished. You are savvy about the happenings in your field and your online profiles reflect such. Your contacts have spoken with you recently and are aware of what you’ve been doing to keep yourself a viable candidate for any position. In the career world, you are on your way to recovery.

Disaster preparedness is all about creating a plan you hope you never need to use. If your updated resume is superfluous and your lunches with contacts are just friendly chats between colleagues, that’s OK. Hopefully you’ll never need your emergency kit. But make sure you have one.

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