Making It WorkConcerned that your job may be in jeopardy? Now is the time to take stock and plan your future.
Government reports are telling us that unemployment rates are going down. Finally. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t upheavals ahead for the job market. Luck favors the prepared: now is as good a time as any to take stock and determine, as much as possible, if your job is in jeopardy. And if it is, start thinking about what course you might take.
Some warning signs are obvious: the company has posted weak earnings; there are rumors your company is about to be acquired or merged; consultants have arrived to assess the company’s strategy and operations; and, maybe most of all, you work in an industry that is contracting.
Don’t fall into fight or flight mode if you see warning signs. Right now that’s all they are: signs, a nudge to start thinking about the future. In a rational and calm way, think about where you might want to go from here. The first question you should ask yourself: are you running away from, or toward something? There is no value judgment attached. There is certainly nothing wrong with getting yourself untangled from a toxic work situation. The key is not to get into flight mode; if you want to put something in your rearview mirror, it’s better to walk away with a plan in place.
If, on the other hand, there are goals you want to pursue and something you want to go toward, now is the time to start planning. See what you need in the way of additional skills and groups with whom you should network. Even if the pink slip never comes, you might find yourself making a change.
The Unemployment Catch 22
It’s a sad truth: one of the things holding people back from getting a job is being unemployed.
There’s no denying that people who find themselves laid off face some significant challenges finding new employment. This especially holds true for people in the workforce who are older than 50. Statistics show that it takes longer for older workers to find new jobs. And a cruel irony is that the difficulty in finding a job is compounded by the length of time a person has been out of work.
Many people who find themselves in this very frustrating situation have gone into business for themselves. And for many, it’s a pretty good idea. According to the Kauffman Index, despite the fact that in 2011 new business startups dropped about 6% over the prior year, they nonetheless remain near their highest levels since 1997. And almost a quarter of new businesses were being started by people aged 55-64, with another 28% of entrepreneurs in the 45-54 age range. That’s almost one-half of all startup activity.
Some people began their new businesses consulting in the industry from which they were laid off – tapping their career-long pool of sources and contacts. Dane Stangler, director of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation was quoted in a Reuter’s article that appeared on NBCNEWS.com, “We’re seeing a lot of entrepreneurs in fields like technology and engineering who are launching substantial businesses,” he said. “They started companies in their thirties or forties, and now they’re doing it again.”
Starting Your Own Business – at Any Age
No matter your age, your reasons for going out on your own or the type of business you’re starting, being resilient is key. Whether it’s because you’ve been laid off or you need more flexibility to care for a family member, if you are thinking about starting a business, the ability to right yourself after an upheaval is required. The successful entrepreneur is not going to be thrown off course by the first (or second, or third) crisis that comes down the road.
Segueing into self-employment is easier for some than others. Those who freelanced in addition to those with expertise, experience and a strong network of business contacts can often transition into consulting without much effort, especially if they worked in such fields as bookkeeping, software development, engineering or graphic design.
Working at cultivating business is just as important as performing in your field of expertise. Keep your network fresh and engaged through social media. When talking about your skills, it is not a time to be shy and reticent. Facebook now has professional pages, which can complement your personal profile, where you can highlight your skills and accomplishments. LinkedIn is designed with professional networking in mind. Both are easy to use and are incredible resources. Make a commitment to be active on whatever social media you engage in. You’ll want to keep your information up-to-date.
No one says it’s going to be easy. (That’s one reason successful entrepreneurs are resilient.) Working for yourself takes self-control and discipline. Those who need the camaraderie of an office environment may find the isolation daunting – at least at first. Staying on track can be difficult for the easily distracted.
There are quite a few resources that can help you get started with advice and mentoring. Check out the Small Business Development Centers. With locations all over the country, it is a unique collaboration between the Small Business Administration, state and local governments and the private sector.
Stay focused, have faith in yourself and don’t be sidetracked by setbacks. The only way ahead is forward.
This content was provided by Transamerica Brokerage and did not involve the Kiplinger editorial staff.