By Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady
The Value of a Backup Plan
Career Resilience is all about being ready to deal with what comes. Thinking through scenarios, or contingency planning, is one way to prepare for possible outcomes. By thinking through your next steps before you are in that situation, you can ensure that you are better prepared.
When Work Is Great
When you’re in a good place at work, it’s hard to believe things would ever be any other way. Your boss supports your professional growth, your work fulfills you, your coworkers are amazing, and you can’t imagine a time when it could be any other way.
Conversely, there are times at work when you’re less than thrilled about your situation.
Scenario: It's Time To Move On
Here are a few indications that might prompt you to start to think it’s time for you to leave your current role:
Once you decide that you need to leave your current job, it’s important to take a look at your financial state. Your ability to pay your bills without the income you receive from that job will be a major factor in your next steps and timeline for leaving your role.
If you have other streams of income, household members who can cover bills with their income, or savings that you are willing and able to spend on your core living expenses, you may consider leaving your job right away without a new one lined up.
Be sure to think through the insurance implications of making a job change, too since your healthcare coverage might end with your job. You will need to determine how you will pay for any health-related costs. This could include switching to a family member's plan, finding and paying for other health care coverage, or determining how to handle possible healthcare costs outside of an insurance plan. Each of these options has a different price tag and level of risk.
Act Now and Figure It Out Later
Know, too, that if your current position is bad enough, you may decide that leaving right away is worth the financial hit you’ll take. Be sure to pause and think through the implications of potentially not having a main income stream and how you will cover your basic living expenses in that interim. Maybe you'll get a roommate, sleep on a friend's couch, or just deal with issues as they come.
Regardless of what may make sense to others, you get to make the decision that is right for you.
Launching a Job Search While Working
Many people will choose to stay at their current job until they are able to find another one. This way, you’ll still have a paycheck coming in while you also search for a position that is a better fit. From a purely financial standpoint, this is often the best choice.
Looking for a job while you’re already employed is a different challenge. You’ll need to get your job search toolkit together so that you’re ready to apply for opportunities as they arise. You’ll also need to juggle doing your current job while also actively searching for another role. Since finding a new job takes as long as it takes, you may have to live in this state of uncertainty for a while until something new works out.
Maintaining Job Search Momentum
When you’re working and also looking for a new position, maintaining your job search momentum can be a challenge. As you face job search rejection, you may be discouraged and not put in as much time looking for a new role. You may apply for roles only sporadically and not make much progress.
You may also find that you’ll have good days and weeks at that job you’ve decided to leave. You may also have times when things are going well enough at your job that you temporarily slow down your job search activity. Then, you may have a rough week at work and renew your commitment to finding something new.
Possible Contingency Planning Steps
Before you are in a position where you realize you need to leave your job, it’s valuable to do some preliminary thinking about how you might manage each of these factors. Consider doing the following to help inform your contingency planning:
What Do You Think?
What questions do you think you need to focus on as you do your contingency planning? Share your thoughts in the comments.
7-time layoff survivor Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady, waxes poetic on layoffs, job transitions, & career resilience.