Even if your career is going well at the moment, there’s always the possibility that might change. Layoffs happen unexpectedly, and industries can be forced to deal with systemic shifts. Just as you have an emergency plan for natural disasters, or an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, it’s also a good idea to plan for any career-related crises that might hit in the future.
As Alaina Levine, a career coach and author of the book Networking for Nerds: Find, Access and Land Hidden Game-Changing Career Opportunities Everywhere, wrote in a recent column for the American Physical Society, “Crises can happen anytime to anyone. They can derail our plans for career advancement, cost us precious resources, or lead to job loss.”
Having a broad network is crucial
As Levine advises, having a crisis plan can help you weather any unexpected derailments for your career: dealing with a lay-off, finding yourself in an unstable working environment, or navigating an industry-wide shift. As she wrote, the key to a successful crisis plan is networking, as it will “help you craft and activate mutually beneficial relationships with the aim of supporting one another during challenging times—and enabling everyone to harness their hidden capacities for success in the face of loss.”
Simply put, you don’t have to navigate a career crisis alone. Having a broad network of peers, in multiple industries and at different stages of their careers, is known to offer a number of longterm benefits for career success. The same is true for weathering any career crises, as building a community of people who can help each other is often the key to adapting and thriving even in the face of uncertainty. The important part is to plan ahead and build a robust network before a crisis happens, so that it will be there when you need it.
Have a plan for how to problem-solve
Ultimately, a career crisis plan is about making sure that you have the problem-solving skills necessary to solve some of the really big, tough events that can happen over the course of your career, as this will allow you to course-correct.
As Levine advises, if a crisis hits, you’ll want to find a way to approach the problem in a rational way by assessing your skills, doing research on the current state of your industry, finding a way to market yourself (by updating your CV, website, or LinkedIn page), and reaching out to your network to identify any potential solutions or opportunities. When networking, it can help to identify potential ways in which your skills can help solve an organizations existing problems, as that creates a situation in which everyone wins—including you.