Having been a career planner for a number of years, my clients and I have gone through:
- The oil, real estate and banking bust of the 80s (remember the RTC?)
- The dot.com debacle of the late 90s when high tech industries were hit hard
- The stock market crash and recession post 9/11
Now we are in the midst of a financial services/real estate meltdown that is really frightening and unpredictable. Housing prices and the market have collapsed. Credit has dried up. People are worried about their jobs and their businesses. No one, not even the experts, knows what will happen.
The usual response is for individuals and companies to cut back on spending, lay off employees and hunker down in a state of paralyzed hibernation. This is exactly the wrong behavior, because it perpetuates fear and validates self-fulfilling prophecies.
What should you do in times like this? If you are an employee, increase your visibility. Don't hide below the radar screen.
- Make sure you are doing everything you can to add value to your company.
- Identify areas of potential growth or find a solution for an ongoing problem.
- Take this time to learn something new, even if you have to pay for it yourself.
- Focus on networking outside your organization.
- Think of your career as Me, Inc. You are responsible for your marketability and success.
It's much harder to layoff an indispensable person.
If you suggest ways to increase revenue, decrease expenses, improve efficiency, etc., you will be a keeper.
Versatility along with added expertise will make you more valuable in both your current position and the job market.
Having a vibrant group of networking contacts is particularly important in down times.
Your employer is a client of your consulting business, who could end the contract at any time.
If you are a business owner:
- There may be professionals available that you typically wouldn't be able to hire.
- Ramp up your marketing efforts.
- Take this opportunity to give your employees training they needed, but didn't get, when they were really busy.
- Examine your business processes to find ways to improve them while you have time.
- Invest in equipment, software and other assets that will increase efficiency long term.
- Network, network, network.
- Give your customers lots of TLC.
Bring them on board now while you have the chance.
With everyone else cutting back, you will stand out.
They will repay your effort with more business now and later.
Whether you work for yourself or someone else, down times are the best times to prepare for the next growth period. When the economy turns around, you will be way ahead of your colleagues and competition because you "bought when the market was down."