Are You Always Ready For When the Worst Finally Comes?

“Well, I lost my job today. To all my Tech friends, let me know of any Mac tech support jobs.”

That was the post that went up on Facebook! As I knew this individual, I immediately reached out to see how I could help. Since I had a lot of friends in tech, I was sure I could get his resume into the right hands.

What happened next kind of took me back.

Update needed

His response to me was this: “I will have to get back to you as I need to update (my resume).” Let’s see, you have been with this company for close to six years and you have not updated your resume? But meanwhile, he kept everyone updated on Facebook with his posts.

That reminded me of another friend who told me that she has been trying to find a job but could not get any bites. When I reviewed her profile, all she had was basically job title, dates of employment, and that was it. And then you wonder why?

I got a notice that a former colleague of mine from many years back, someone who would be considered a Baby Boomer, just created a LinkedIn page. When we spoke and discussed “why now?”, she said she just had not gotten around to it. Meanwhile she was wondering why she could not find anything with all the resumes she sent out.

Developing situational awareness on your career

If I have said it once, I said it a thousand times: YOU OWN YOUR CAREER.

No one else does. Never leave your career development to your employer. In this day and age, everyone has to look out for the next opportunity. Always have a situational awareness of what is going on around you.

You have to always be prepared for the next step. My father had a term, “always keep your eyes looking through the crack.” In cases that someone walks in and you are let go, were you aware that this might be coming up? What signals was your organization giving off? Was the recent earnings call talking about heavy losses?

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Excuses: Only good for the person that makes them

But then again, let’s say that you were not aware and were blindsided. That is still no excuse for not being prepared. Always think in terms that if you were let go the next day that you would have some kind of a plan to move forward.

The worse time to “update” a resume or profile is when you have just lost your job. Your mind is not in a mood to update. You can’t remember half the things that are important that you need to update. In other words, after a layoff you are not functioning on all cylinders.

Managing a career is a 24 hour job. Your thought process should be on medium to high alert at any given time. I am constantly amazed by people who never give this a thought. They mindlessly do the same thing each and every day, and in a lot of cases, they hate what they do.

My constant comeback for that crowd of job-haters is, “What do you plan to do about it?

7 things you should be doing

So my advice to everyone is the following:

  1. Your career is yours and you will determine the trajectory. Don’t wait until you’re fired, laid off, burned out or fed up to revitalize your career. Manage your career on an ongoing basis, particularly through the good times. Never “dig the well when you need the water.” Always keep that ultimate goal in sight.
  2. Every encounter and conversation should be looked on as an interview. You never know where the next opportunity is going to come from. The people that you encounter every day could be the basis for the next opportunity.
  3. Network, network and then network some more. Do not wait till you are in desperation mode to reach out to people for help. Keep connected through good times as well as bad. People can smell you a mile away if, out of the clear blue, you just happen to reach out for a lunch, or coffee date, or something similar.
  4. Focus on self-awareness, self-management, and situational awareness. Always be aware of what is going on around you. Your life is important and it is your duty to keep your eyes open to and try not to ever get into a situation where you are “ambushed” and caught totally off guard. But then if it does happen through no fault of your own, you still have a game plan that you can use because you have already given it thought.
  5. Learn to listen. I am always amazed that when I “coach” people, regardless of the conversation, they have an answer for everything. Constructive updates are met with a pat answer. So my question is this: If you have all the answers, why are not making progress? My father has another saying — “you can learn a lot more listening than you can talking.”
  6. Be reflective. What really happened? Are you being honest and true to yourself as to why you are in this predicament? It can’t always be the organizations fault. Someone I knew had a recent history where in his last two jobs he has been let go within six months. He finally came to the realization that yes, he was the problem. Lesson learned
  7. Find mentors. Stop sharing your issues with every one you come in contact with. That friend that can’t get her life together should not be your career coach. The Internet is a treasure trove of informative articles on career development. If you can hire a coach but remember in the end, it is your career and life. If not ask someone who you admire and may be where your ultimate goal is.cus of successful organizations.

We can’t always be prepared for everything that life throws at us, but we CAN be prepared for the what if …

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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1 Comment on “Are You Always Ready For When the Worst Finally Comes?


  1. I got a notice that a former colleague of mine from many years back,
    someone who would be considered a Baby Boomer, just created a LinkedIn
    page. When we spoke and discussed “why now?”, she said she just had not
    gotten around to it.”

    Personally speaking, I don’t think it’s entirely that person’s fault for that beyond just plain not reading, realizing, and then acting on how to EFFECTIVELY use anything beyond Facebook. And really, your personal-friend contacts you actually know on Facebook will be of no help to further your *professional career* simply because few to none of them will be in your actual field. They might be instrumental in getting you a job digging ditches or doing factory work to keep the lights on, but if you’re not physically able to, or even have the aptitude for that sort of work (yeah, it *sounds* simple enough for any brainless twit to do, but really, there’s more to every job done well than that), you’re going to be unemployed again really soon.

    Plus, LinkedIn has been something that’s been evolving since it started. I consider myself somewhat astute in using things like LinkedIn, but it took me quite awhile to figure out how to maybe put a best foot forward there. You just have to cut people some slack sometimes. But in that sense, you’re correct: Just relying on ads in the newspaper and networking with people who will do you no good professionally (altho they may be awesome-good personal friends and relatives), and not being proactive in keep a fresh resume (and knowing what a strong one even looks like) will have you sitting there watching the world pass you by, and you may end up starving for a good long time.

  2. I help people write resumes for a living and I advise people that the best time to have a resume is before you need one. People often want a resume in 24-hours in order to meet an application deadline or not to miss out on an immediate opportunity. While it is ideal to tailor a resume to the job you are applying to, it is good to have your base resume available to hand over to a friend or colleague in a situation such as this. thanks, shop dot 86keys dot com

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