You’re a Woman, and You’re About to Lose Your Job–Make These 5 Career Moves

business woman holding box with office items.

Layoffs in the U.S. are up–20 percent last month over the previous month–and many workers are finding themselves unprepared for the impending job loss.

For women, job loss can be particularly difficult because most professional women are really busy. We’re so busy getting tasks done and taking care of others that we aren’t in the habit of focusing on what we need and what’s good for us.

In the recent economic climate and in a world swirling with unknowns, we can’t risk leaving ourselves out of the picture. Otherwise, we risk being blindsided.

So, sisters, here are six steps to get your work affairs in order and prepare for the worst.

1. Know your strengths.

We need to be acutely aware of what we’re good at. Ask yourself some simple questions–like, “What do I love to do at work?” or “Where do I bring value to my team?” Write down your answers. Ask others what they think your strengths are, too, and review old performance reviews.

Use this material to create your personal brand statement that succinctly outlines your capabilities, what you’re passionate about, what you stand for, and what you might want to aspire to next.

2. Shamelessly self-promote.

A lot of women have a tough time tooting their own horns. They don’t want to sound boastful. But, it’s important to highlight your success and attributes, and there are ways to do so that don’t sound obnoxious.

So, speak to where and when you’ve brought value. Talk about achievements you’ve made as a team or in collaboration with others. Promote the leaders of your organization when discussing your work successes.

Let people know about projects you’re excited about, how you contributed to them, and what’s next for you. Bonus points if you talk about new challenges you hope to work on next.

3. Target your network.

There are many ways to network–cold calling new people, attending conferences, meeting with mutual contacts–but doing something called “targeted networking” holds the most promise–especially for those whose jobs hang in the balance.

Targeted networking means making a list of the key people who can help you be successful or get you to your next play, and then set up a short meeting with them (even over the phone). The purpose is particular. You have a goal for the meeting and an outline of what you want to say. This outline includes sharing what you’re working on and what you want to come next for yourself professionally.

4. Refine your ask.

Know what you want and ask for it. Know what you’d like to have in your next career move–a new title, more money, or new work content. There’s no reason to think you can’t make lemonade out of a sour job loss. It may give you the guts to spring for the job you’ve always wanted.

5. Talk with your manager.

If you’re in the unfortunate situation that you know you’ll be jobless soon, talk with your manager about it. Put your feelings aside and ask them if they can help you with the next step by writing a recommendation or putting you in touch with key contacts.

Exiting gracefully is essential as you never know where your paths may cross again.

6. Talk with recruiters.

An impending job loss or not, it’s never a bad idea to put yourself out there using social media like LinkedIn and other recruiting sites. Update your photo and information, and leave yourself open. LinkedIn even has a new function where you can let only recruiters know you’re looking for opportunities.

Doing this lets you know your market value and can help build confidence. And, it can give you a plan B if plan A falls apart.

Even if your job is secure and you think you’re not going anywhere, life is full of surprises. No one has ever been sorry for being prepared for the worst.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

It’s a Digital World. How to Keep the Human Touch Alive

Thanks to modern technology, and our digital world, we may have more time to focus on relationships.

These days, pretty much everywhere you turn, there’s talk of digitalization–in how we travel, the products we buy, and how we pay for those products. The trend is sweeping the world, many industries at a time. And with it, come a lot of fears.

Fears of security threats. Fears of machines replacing humans in the workforce. Fears of a loss of jobs. Some people are cynical, wondering if machines in this new digital world will be reliable as workforce partners to get the job done.

I spoke with Otto Schell, founder of The Diplomatic Council Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation, and he feels strongly, “We must remain open to digitalization as it is rapidly enveloping us. Humans need not fear exclusion by Artificial Intelligence (AI), but understand we need to harness it and engage proactively by setting and maintaining the economic and social governance for our co-existence.”

A Diversity colleague of mine, Annika von Redwitz, and I are very interested in understanding what digitalization will do to the way the workforce builds relationships and interacts with each other–particularly in a diverse, globalized, and multicultural world. We spoke about whether or not digitization will make human connectivity obsolete.

For her, the answer is no. Human connectivity may be even more critical.

Below are the highlights of our conversation.

Melissa: “Annika, what is digitalization exactly?”

Annika: “Today, many businesses are looking at transforming their organizations to stay competitive in a fast-changing market. They may be moving from a product-oriented to a service-oriented business model, or adding new online services to their existing products.”

Melissa: “So, it sounds like digitalization is a significant evolution from humans using technology as a tool to, now, programming machines to run the business autonomously. Is that what makes the concept unique today in your mind?”

Annika: “In the nineties, the concept of re-engineering came up and described how companies re-invented their business processes with the help of the Information Technology available at that time. A lot of manual work was automated, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems became the standard.

Today, we call this “digital transformation”–for example, the Internet of Things, connecting machines with each other, or Artificial Intelligence doing things humans would have otherwise done. But it is a more radical shift than in the last century.”

 

Melissa: “Annika, if our job is to help leaders and teams work with people more efficiently and effectively, will that even be needed in the future?”

Annika: “It won’t become obsolete. In fact, digitalization will offer new ways for human beings to interact with each other.

Ideally, thanks to modern technology, employees will have more time to focus on strategic and complex tasks. And, remember, robots are programmed by humans, so it is essential that diverse teams (of humans) work well together to develop those algorithms.”

Melissa: “So, it sounds like we may be needed more than ever! If humans don’t need to focus on machines and simple tasks they need to do using technology, all they’ll need to focus on is human interaction.”

Annika: That’s right.

Melissa: “If an organization is looking at digital transformation what are the first steps?”

Annika: “It depends on the size and age of the company. According to the book, Radical Business Model Transformation, traditional companies need to analyze their status quo and enable established products and services to co-exist with new offerings.”

By the end of our discussion, we had agreed, leaders need to establish “a corporate culture based on mutual trust, support, and curiosity. They need to be able to explain the vision and purpose of digitalization and keep positively communicating those goals.

In other words, never underestimate the power of good ol’ fashioned communication.

 

A version of this post was first published on Inc. 

Photo: 123RF.com