Six ways to prepare for a career apocalypse

The world's not going to end this week.

But the impending end of the Mayan calendar and the associated ridiculous banter regarding an impending apocalypse provides an excellent opportunity to exploit the "end of the world" as an angle for a post.

Which got me thinking: how can women prepare for a career apocalypse? The unexpected kind: a sudden need to leave one's job, a dramatic restructuring that sees you being let go, or even just a gentle nudge out the door?

Here are my six preparation tips:

  1. Remember that if this should happen, it's not the end of the world. Sure, I've used the term "apocalypse" here and when the unexpected happens it can feel that way, but a dramatic and unforeseen turn in your career may be difficult at first but could later be the best thing that's ever happened to you. Change is an opportunity, if not now and not tomorrow, then at least at some point in the future. It's important to consider how you'd feel if you actually lost your job – and remind yourself now that much worse things could happen to you.
  2. Maintain personal email and social media accounts. This is a great way to manage contacts and stay in the loop of things that are happening in and out of your industry. You don't want to suddenly lose your Twitter followers or your entire email address book because you've lost your job. Keep the names and content within these accounts as professional as you can (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. won't look great on the resume) and use them to let contacts know you're moving on.
  3. Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. Keep it comprehensive, with an updated professional photo, and use your account to link and respond to articles relevant to your work. You never know who'll drop in to take a look at your profile: potential employers might be looking to snap you up if they hear you've left your job. Essentially, it's a resume in progress – a dynamic and constantly evolving report on the goals you've kicked and projects you're working on.
  4. Keep some personal business cards in the office at home. Get these done online now and it'll remind you that you're not defined by your job and who employs you, but rather that the skills and attributes you have are unique and scalable to a wide range of opportunities. And should things suddenly go haywire at work, you'll have these already made up and ready to go.
  5. Maintain your wellbeing. It's important to look and feel your best as you don't want to suddenly find yourself on the job market looking tired, unhealthy and like you haven't had a holiday in years.
  6. Do one thing every day to build your network. This is a little tip I got from Forbes on what to do should you lose your job, but I can't see why you shouldn't do it anyway. Your network will be key to landing the next big thing, so you should always be working at building it up and cultivating existing relationships. Your one thing a day could be: sending an email or note on LinkedIn, interacting with contacts on Twitter, arranging a coffee date, picking up the phone to someone you've never spoken to, attending a networking lunch, going to a seminar.

So there you have it. These tips will not only help you, should the unexpected occur, but may just assist in landing the next big opportunity. Get started today in preparation for 2013 – because the world won't be ending tomorrow.

Meredith the Mentor

Meredith is a contributing writer to Women's Agenda. She is is not a consultant, or a management guru. She's not even a published author. Just someone who's made plenty of mistakes, and learnt a few lessons along the way.

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