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Five steps to career survival

Five steps to career survival

Christine FaderCcounselor
Christine Fader
Photo courtesy
C. Fader

Stay visible.

People have a tendency to withdraw from the world when something negative and unforeseen, such as a firing or a layoff, happens. Of course, it’s okay to do that while adjusting to the new circumstances, but eventually, it’s important to step back into the world of three-dimensional people. “Virtual people” who float around job search websites from the privacy of their backyard do sometimes land jobs, but using this as the only career strategy during tough times is probably working against the average person.

Instead of retreating, keep living your life.

It’s helpful to keep a social life going. Without visibility, job seekers or career changers have few opportunities to connect with cool stuff that’s happening outside their house.

Most times, jobs don’t knock on the door (or the email in-box) and ask for a date. They’re shy in that way.

Be specific.

While being brave and visible, Queen’s students and alumni should TALK about what kind of work they’d love to do. They should also be specific. Saying, “I need a job” doesn’t help. That’s too big and too vague.

Be more specific:

Tell people, for instance, “I’m really interested in purple shoes, and I’d love it you’d let me know if you hear anything about any place that deals with purple shoes or shoes of any kind.” Even though they might think these interests are a bit strange, giving people some keywords around your interests and skills will help them to remember what to look for, and when they see an article that’s about purple or shoes or foot artists, it will prompt them to notice it and to pass the information on to you.

Embrace some denial.

That probably sounds counter-intuitive, but in tough times, lots of advice gets thrown around about what fields or careers are “safe” and what’s “hopeless to even try.” Obviously, we live in the real world, but embracing some denial can pay off and help to avoid paralysis. Maybe a job in purple shoe design right now is out because the bottom has fallen out of the purple shoe industry for the moment.

Try exploring work opportunities in related fields such as fashion, colour therapy, or the retail industry. Sure, the unemployment rate might be high right now, but you can avoid getting swept up in the panic of the bigger employment picture and instead, choose to embrace a more manageable personal reality: All they need to find or keep is ONE job.

Diversify and have fun.

At Career Services, employers regularly mention that one of the main reasons they come to campus to recruit employees is the incredible diversity of experience Queen’s people bring to work. They have great degrees and they are renowned for volunteering and being otherwise involved in their communities and for having global experiences. Aren’t those the keener tendencies that people used to mock in high school? Maybe so, but these are also the kinds of activities that build the kinds of skills that employers value nowadays, and they allow Queen’s alumni to stand out from the crowd.

As you progress through your career, these are great habits to continue because they’ll help you acquire the flexibility of a nine-year-old Russian gymnast. That’s a life save when your personal interests and aspirations change or there’s an unexpected bend in the road. Or even a downsizing.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2009-2 cover]