A career management poster child

2007

Three weeks ago I was contacted by Adam Wright, a young man from Cincinnati, OH, seeking career counselling and resume preparation services.

Now, Adam is not his real name, nor is Cincinnati his real location - but all the other details you'll read here are true. Adam has given me permission to share his story, but, for obvious reasons, wants to keep his identity private.

Adam is 35 years old, and has been with his company (a top tier weather services information provider) for 10 years. During that time, he's progressed quickly and now manages a national sales staff of 10. Adam loves the competition, the opportunity to develop his team and his clients - top media giants across the United States.

Paid well. Loves his work. May or may not be interested in a job search or career change.

So why did Adam come to me? The last time I checked, I work with seekers - career changers and job searchers. Often unhappy - or at least frustrated - and unemployed.

When I asked Adam this question, he replied "Because I never want to be caught flat-footed. I've never had career guidance before and I want to make sure I'm where I should be. I don't want to rest on my laurels - and I definitely want to maximize my career fulfilment."

And he went on: "I also see what's happening all around me. Downsizing and layoffs, and most of these folks are not ready for a job search. That's just not gonna' happen to me. I believe in being prepared."

You could have blown me over with a feather. In spite of daily evidence of its wisdom, and encouragement from well-known proponents like Tom Peters and Richard Bolles, (not to mention publications such as Fortune and the Wall Street Journal), pro-active career management is still rare. It is easier to take the path of least resistance and hope for the best.

Perhaps the biggest barrier is the cost. A professional resume costs around $300 and counselling would double that, maybe more. But there is a compelling ROI for being ready: compare the cost of counselling or the cost of a resume to being out of work for even one extra month. For most, that's a no-brainer.

At the very least, give some thought to your degree of risk by answering "yes" or "no" to these 7 questions:

  • Have there been layoffs in my industry?
  • Has my company downsized employees in the past?
  • Is my company financially and strategically viable?
  • Has it been over a year since I last updated my resume?
  • Would I be in financial trouble if I was out of work for an extended period?
  • Am I the sole, or most significant, breadwinner in our family?
  • Will my job be difficult to find somewhere else?

If you answered "yes" to over half of these questions, you may be at risk. Think about the various ways you could reduce your risk in the near term. Update your resume? Enhance your network? Research recruiters?

Then, like Adam Wright, take the bull by the horns and make it happen.

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About The Author

Patricia Soldati
Patricia Soldati

Patricia Soldati is a former President & COO of a national finance organization who re-invented her working life in 1998. As a career fulfillment specialist, she helps corporate professionals enhance their working lives – both within the organization – and by leaving it behind.