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Managing An Unexpected Career Change

Your Seven-Day Career Plan | By Team CareerJini

If you are one of the millions of people who get an unexpected pink slip, the fact that you are getting laid off can be terrifying. It doesn’t have to be that way, but many people don’t prepare themselves for the eventuality of a career change and prefer instead to coast through life. When market forces or a major illness interrupt their career, they may have no idea how to start a new

career. Let’s be clear, you can switch into another career quickly, but not if you don’t plan your strategies way ahead of time. Once the emergency hits, you won’t have the calm head required to look at all your options objectively. So, don’t wait until something happens to force you out of your career, be proactive and start looking at ways to manage a potential career change even if your job seems as secure.

You will have the tools and strategies necessary to make your career dreams come true. It will take a lot of work on your part and research too. However, it can offer you a way to plan your switch in a smooth manner, even if that switch comes suddenly in the form of a pink slip. So, do you know what you would do if you suddenly became a layoff casualty? Would you be able to implement the seven-day career plan effectively? Obviously, it takes more than seven days to prepare, but once you are forced to go up to bat, that’s when you can be glad you had some idea of how to hit a home run, instead of striking out.

Day One

Let’s assume that day one is the day that you are actually walking out of your previous employer’s company into your new life. It doesn’t matter if that change came about because you planned it that way or because you got a pink slip. The moment you realize that you are about to head out the door of your old company is the day the clock starts ticking on your seven-day plan.

You get home and now you know what to do. You take out your career survival kit and make sure that is as up-to-date as it possibly can be. You take out your career plan with the two choices for careers you had entertained in the past, and you make a decision to either go for one of these or stick with the work you currently do. You update your research and make sure it is still valid. You will have a clear idea of which of your skills are marketable, if you kept your career plan in shape, and which need to be upgraded.

Day Two

Since you were aware that many people face the prospects of having two or three career paths in their lifetime, you are not caught completely off-guard. You might have a side business that can be expanded already in place. You might have a part-time job that has been offering you some needed training skills. Now, you can ask for more hours. You might even be in school.

Seek out internships or employment opportunities there, even if they are temporary. The things that can derail your plans now are finances, so you start to see if you’re in good shape.

You have a set period of time before your lack of employment might affect your credit. Use that time to refinance high-interest loans, take out credit lines for future use, and re-organize your finances. Seek to reduce your expenses and find ways to increase your income – any income for now. Make sure to apply for unemployment compensation as soon as possible.

Day Three

Having gotten your finances and plan in place, now you want to start to the network immediately. Continue to attend the professional organizations you joined. Be sure to carry cards with a contact number that they can reach you. You need to come clean to anyone that you are in the market for a job or looking to switch into a new career. Now is the time to get returns on any favors you may have made during the time leading up to your layoff.

You will be calling to make appointments with all of the local agencies and recruiters that you investigated earlier. You should have a clear idea of who to call and how to network at this point. If not, the chances of you making a successful career change in seven days are practically zero.

You should be sending out resumes and cover letters to employers that are looking for your skills. One of the first places that might be hiring is your previous company’s competitor. If you want to stay in the same type of position, it doesn’t hurt to know who they are and contact them when you are laid off. Just make sure you did not sign any non-compete agreements or you won’t be able to be hired.

Day Four

After you have made your phone calls and set up appointments to meet with people you know face-to-face, then you should investigate the online resources. If you haven’t posted your hiring information online, now is the time to do so. As long as you are not currently employed, the Internet can be a wonderful marketing tool for someone looking for a job.

If you are not looking for a job, but seeking to expand a business concept, then you will be working towards expanding your customer base and seeking out new business. You will want to use all the resources at your disposal, both online and offline. Look at what has made you money in the past and just do more of the same to increase your income, for now. You can get more creative after the financial crisis is over.

Day Five

As you continue to network and establish a bigger circle of contacts, you will start receiving feedback on your chances at employment. The feedback can be very subtle, so you have to be on your toes to not miss it. If after calling various people, no one wants to return your calls, then you know you have a problem. It could be you’ve suffered a loss of reputation, your skills aren’t marketable, or everyone is in the market for a job and you are one of many contacting that person. Don’t take it personally. If you have established some good contacts throughout your years of association with other professionals, you will eventually get a response from someone who can help. Remember that it is often a matter of timing as to whether an opportunity comes your way or not. Use the feedback to modify your goals, your presentation, and your public image.

Day Six

As you network and seek openings, remember to keep your skills up-to-date and your professional image as polished as possible. If that means that you take work on a volunteer basis to get you more skills, then that is something that can keep you busy and your spirits up too. Just always seek to make sure that any free work you do is done with the intention of helping your career goals in the future. Don’t succumb to using your free time for work that isn’t going to contribute to your goals in the end. You have to be somewhat single-minded on placing your feet firmly on a path that is not only satisfying to you personally, but that also can be


Take advantage of any free seminars or job placement services offered to people who are unemployed. Spend your time seeking out professionals in the area you are targeting so that you can network with them. Don’t just focus on making them your stepping-stone to employment, also show your interest in the career path they are in. This is far more attractive than a person who appears desperate to get a job.

Day Seven

If you’ve followed all the steps outlined, you will be getting closer to your target day by day. It may take seven days, it may take 30 days. It can even take years if continuing education is involved. The key is to be able to weather a downturn in finances by having several options available to you. This makes you less desperate to take the first offer that comes along and gives you time to make a career change that is meaningful and lasting.

The process can be reviewed every week and re-established, using the same formula. As they say, rinse and repeat.


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