Surviving and Thriving During Turbulent Times

"Sooner or later the economy and the markets will take a decisive turn for the better," states Money magazine. The operative words "sooner or later" are what create concerns for the employed, and especially, the unemployed. In our conversations with candidates and clients, we work with this reality every day. Therefore, we want to focus this newsletter on some positive steps executives can take to successfully manage their career during turbulent times.

"While there are fewer opportunities and the market is volatile," states Susan Chadick, "hiring is still occurring. Companies do have specific talent needs, some very critical ones during this turbulent time. They need talent with specific competencies and experiences that will help to improve operations and take advantage of opportunistic market conditions. Finding the ideal candidate is always a challenge. Job opportunities do exist for those who have unique skills that companies view as imperative; the key is to be highly strategic and thoughtful about where to concentrate one's efforts." While we typically see the world through the lens of Wall Street and what is happening in the financial services sector, there are other sectors that are not being impacted quite so severely.

If You See It, You Will Achieve It

“Always keep an external focus in terms of marketing yourself and your career,” states Janice Reals Ellig. “While committed to what you are doing, keep within sight, your next potential move, which could be inside the corporation or outside. Most importantly, continue networking, internally and externally, and remember, the more you help others, the more they will help you.”

“It is important to maintain a positive and proactive attitude about change,” states Stacy Lauren Musi. “See it as an opportunity to learn, be challenged and grow. Now is a good time to acquire additional skills and take on new responsibilities that will ensure your relevance going forward.”

7 Steps to Maximize Your Career

1. Develop Internal Champions
Reach out to others within your organization. Look for any and all opportunities to enhance your visibility. Volunteer for projects and work collaboratively across departments. The internal relationships you nurture may become your future champions.

2. Maintain an External Focus
Network widely. Develop contacts and relationships with a broad group of people outside your company and industry sector. Volunteer for non-profit organizations that you are passionate about. If possible, chair a committee — it is a great way to demonstrate leadership and to get recognized. When meeting people, be sure to follow up with them, as they may be of help to you in the future.

3. Be Viewed as an Expert
Writing and speaking helps to build your reputation, credibility, and visibility. Get media attention by being quoted as an expert in
your field. Get involved with professional associations. Participate on conference panels, or as a coordinator or moderator.

4. Become a Trusted Source
Become a mentor to peers and keep confidences. Always help others in terms of jobs or career; it will come back ten-fold. Take calls from executive search consultants and try to be helpful to them. They will remember you and call again — at a time when you might want or need their call.

5. Develop Positive Support Systems
In your professional and personal life, be selective. Connect with individuals who are supportive and positive. Set boundaries around those who act and think negatively and can potentially pull you down. Surround yourself with winners, those who take control of their destiny and do not act like victims.

6. Remain Focused
Avoid becoming overwhelmed. Have an action plan and check off the steps. Remain focused on the goals that matter and stay organized. Be wary of unproductive distractions. Avoid negative gossip in the workplace or isolation as it increases anxiety. Stay in control; it will demonstrate to others your self-confidence, resiliency and strength as a leader.

7. Be Resilient
Everyone feels anxiety during turbulent and changing events — the trick is to be resilient. Remain resilient by focusing on the positive aspects of your situation and what steps you can take to be resourceful, adaptable and creative.

Marilyn Puder-York, Ph.D., Psychologist and Corporate Sponsored Executive Coach who works with executives on adapting their behavior to fit the needs of their workplace states, "Anxiety can bring out the best or the worst in business men and women. Healthy anxiety spurs us on to become more energetic and authentic." Marilyn also privately coaches executives to strengthen their resiliency skills.

Julie Johnson, President and Founder of The Reid Group, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development of high potential employees, women leaders and senior executives advises, "keep your eyes open; take calls from executive search consultants. I once worked with an executive from an insurance company who said he was always looking for a job. He was with the company 37 years but he felt it kept him and his company sharp because he knew his worth in the marketplace and what was going on in his industry.”

“Having perspective is helpful during downturns, because, in fact, we have been through them many times before, in 1987, and after 9/11 for example, and we do rebound,” observes Chadick Ellig. “The point is not to panic. Continue to be visible and positive. Be flexible and thoughtful about the opportunities you choose to pursue either internally or externally.” CE