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.