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Career Planning in Uncertain Times

When your security has been shaken, a solid plan is the best way to ensure that you are operating from a position of strength.  Here is a checklist to follow both before (or after) you have lost your job.  Don’t get caught off guard!

Understand your talent profile. This includes your skills, interests, aptitudes and the optimum working culture for your values and personality.

Have a long-term plan. Know where you want to be 5, 10, 15 even 30 or 40 years down to road.  The plan should extend beyond your retirement and include your total life picture.  This will help you make strategic moves each day of your working career.  It will guide your professional development choices, your promotional moves and, most importantly, your attitude when faced with uncertainty.  Without a plan, you are likely to drift and feel vulnerable.

Have clear targets in mind. A target is a specific industry and function.  Your plan must include an analysis of the targets in your geographic area of interest.  For example, an electrical engineer with a strong background in software development and project management might brainstorm a list of 10 to 20 possible targets in greater Sacramento area.

 Some might be: 

Software Engineer
Telecommunications Electrical Engineer/Project Manager
Small IT Consulting IT Project Manager
Government (State, Country) Engineer or Project Manager
And so on . . .  

Rank your choices based on how available jobs might be, how well each industry meets your personal and professional needs and the salary potential of each target.  You may need to do some research and conduct some informational interviews as you complete this process.

Update your resume.  Please notice that you update your resume after you have completed an analysis of your natural talent profile, developed your long-term plan and developed a strategic targeting plan.  With this done, you can intelligently address pertinent issues when writing your resume.  You may need more than one resume.  It is a waste of time to write a general resume and hope that prospective employers will “figure out” where you fit in.  You must analyze the job market and communicate articulately about their specific concerns.  The resume is about what you can do for your next employer, not a picture of past duties.

Stay professionally connected.  The most difficult hurdle to overcome quickly is the development of a strong professional network.  SWE is a great start but there are also numerous professional events and organizations that can expand your network.  Stay in touch with your role models and mentors.  Help other people when they are in transition.  The people you know will be your best asset in uncertain times.

I hope this short list of “to do’s” has stimulated some thinking for you.  It is important to make your career a priority and to be proactive.  The above process can be completed over the course of several months.  Having a plan will pay off many times over in your future. 

© Helen Scully. All Rights Reserved. For more information visit

 Helen Scully
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