Moving On: What to do when up is out

Aug. 1, 2002

What to do when up is out

By Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon

Where's your career going? If you used to think of yourself as "climbing the ladder," take another look at that ladder. It's more crowded and competitive than ever before. And with corporate "de-layering," the ladder isn't as long as it used to be.
Whether you want to move on or - because of downsizing or lack of opportunity - have to move on, you must create multiple career options for yourself.
Research indicates that job-holders will make 13 job changes during their work lives - and only half of those will be voluntary. You are going to have to move sometime, so get prepared.
Go team. When Rick and his co-workers were laid off from their jobs in a defense plant, he had a solution - hire all 12 and start his own business - refilling laser toner cartridges. By hiring his colleagues, Rick knew their capabilities and personalities.
Go back. Do you have a former career you could return to? Jim, left the Navy after a 20-year hitch. He's going back to construction work - something he did summers while he was in college.
Go sideways. Make a lateral move in your organization. Get to know people outside your department. What other area could use your skills? What sectors of the company are growing?
Go over. Take a job with a supplier or customer. When a vendor Susan had worked with for years heard she was looking, she was hired - without an interview.
Go narrow. Find a niche and fill it. Burt, an "I do everything" management trainer, found his employability soared when he specialized in diversity and cross-cultural issues.
Go home. Start a home-based business. Study your market. Learn the business skills needed beyond your specialty. Join an association of home-based business people to put advice, support, and information at your fingertips.
Go south. Don't just settle for a job change. Make a lifestyle change. Move to a slower, warmer, less expensive, less stressful area of the country. You'll find America's most livable cities in all directions.
Go temp. Take a short-term position. Many temporary agencies are now focusing on placing professionals.
Go part time. When Tim's boss informed him of an impending layoff he negotiated a part-time job for a year. That way he was able to retain a salary and some benefits while he started a catfish farm.
Go entrepreneur. Accountant Jeannie combined three interests - gourmet cooking, llamas, and her love of the outdoors - to start a tour business as the Llama Lady in Arizona. After taking tourists for a llama ride, she serves a gourmet lunch. She also breeds and sells llamas and packages "La Manure" for gardeners.
Go franchise. When Sarah knew she was going to be laid off she explored franchising. After careful evaluation of the opportunities and an extensive training program, she turned her interior decorating talents into a business with Decorating Den.
Go help. Volunteer John raised $68,000 for a camp for kids with AIDS. He learned valuable fund-raising skills that helped him land a new position with a non-profit agency.
Go play. Take a hobby and turn it into a money-maker. Diane, a systems analyst and ventriloquist decided to spice up a customer service presentation by bringing her dummy along. Audiences raved. She and "Bart" became full-time, professional speakers.
Go moonlight. Join 7.5 million other Americans who work at sideline businesses. Jon, a lawyer, handled legal issues for his brother-in-law's remodeling firm. Eventually, John left his government job and became a managing partner of the growing business. The most acceptable (to bosses) sidelines are writing, speaking, consulting, and teaching.
Go teach. Jose left a high-stress sales job to teach high school Spanish. He supplements his income doing business translation. Look outside school systems for teaching opportunities. Organizations spend more on training every year than all the school systems in the United States combined.
Go together. Jan, an interior designer, and Marilyn, an accountant, joined forces to create a wallpapering business. Jan works with clients and trains paper-hangers; Marilyn handles the business end.
Go combo. Put together a collection of money-making ventures. Ted is a full-time parole officer. On the side he uses his military pilot training to ferry patients to and from a mental health treatment facility. He's stayed in the Air Force Reserves, where he backed up his assignment as a disaster preparedness specialist with a second role as admissions liaison officer for the Air Force Academy. For fun, he restores antique tractors - and sells parts through mail-order - and hosts corporate executives who come to his farmland to hunt pheasant every year.
Should you open up your career options? Absolutely. "Consider the little mouse," said a Greek philosopher, "how wise, never to trust its life to one hole only." Of more recent vintage is "Never put all your eggs in one basket." In today's uncertain career climate, that's great advice.

Professional Speakers Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon provide keynotes and workshops. Contact them at 1-800-352-2939.