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Pepare to be Downsized Long Before It Happens Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Make sure you're ready for the worst: Just In Case...
Samrat was keying in the budget figures when he heard a commotion. Suddenly his boss, Eileen, bolted past his cubicle and stormed into her office. Trailing right behind her was Daniel from H.R.


'Look, it's just like I told you. It was a corporate decision, not performance related,' said Daniel.
'I gave them 12 years of my life. How could they do this to me?' Eileen asked.
'I know you're upset. Let me walk you downstairs to your car.'
'No,' she snapped. 'I want to leave on my own, when I'm ready.'
'Actually,' he said, flushing red, 'they've asked me to escort you from the building.'


Samrat sat in shock, shielded from view by his partitions. He strained to hear Eileen and Danielle as they waited for the elevator.


''If it's any consolation, I understand how you must feel,' he heard Daniel say.
''No you don't. You still have a job after today!'' said Eileen.
With that the elevator opened and the two of them disappeared. Samrat was paralyzed. The boss he had admired for the last five years had been shepherded out like a common criminal.
''I understand how you must feel,' he heard Daniel say.
''No you don't. You still have a job after today!''


Soon afterward, Daniel came back upstairs. He announced to the department that Eileen was no longer with the company. Then he told everyone to close up for the night. Samrat locked his desk, peeked at his manager's vacant office, shook his head in disbelief and headed to his car. Traffic was light since it was early. He drove distractedly, worrying about his own job. I'm just like Eileen, he thought to himself. Devoted to the company. Always working extra hours. But look where it got her!
Once home, Samrat sought his wife.


''Bhavana, you're not going to believe this. They let Eileen go this afternoon!''
''No. Just like that? What did she do wrong?''
''That's the thing. She didn't do anything wrong. Daniel from HR said it was part of the reorganization. Now I wonder if maybe I'm next.''
''Well, no need to panic, is there?''
''No? I hope not. But what would I do if I were let go tomorrow? I haven't updated my resume since joining the company. Between working late and helping with the children my contacts have dried up. And Eileen was the one person who really knew how valuable I was to the company.'
''There must be something you can do, isn't there?'' asked Bhavana. She hoped that her expression was not as grim as the veil of fear that was overcoming her.

These days we all know that job security is a distant memory. Stellar performer or long-term employee, there is no controlling the staffing decisions made at senior levels. Mergers, competitive pressures, rightsizings, re-engineering: all of these make it imperative for us to manage our own careers.


So how can you prevent getting caught flat-footed? Start by assessing your current level of readiness:
  • Do you keep track of your work accomplishments? Most people wait until their annual performance review to list their achievements. Try instead to record each time you do something worthwhile. This way you can recall everything and you avoid having to scramble later
  • Do you have samples of your best work? What will you show potential employers if they ask to see examples of your work? Make sure that you have relevant, non-confidential items to build a portfolio with.
  • Do you continue to network even when times are good? Making contact with other people in your industry or profession is vital. Consider joining an association and meeting new colleagues sooner than later
  • Do you keep up with the job market? Check out who is hiring whom and what the going rate for salaries is. Doing this while you are still employed gives you a better idea of your marketability. It also makes it easier to position yourself quickly if things change.

Since there is no sure way to fire-proof yourself completely, your best defense is to always be prepared. This will put you far ahead of those who are being passive -- and will allow you to act fast if need be.

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