In Wisconsin we like to say that we have two seasons, winter and road construction.
As beautiful as winter can be, it is hard to say good-bye to our warm and colorful season of traffic delays and omnipresent orange cones.
Like many Wisconsinites, I fight this transition the only way I can – by refusing to put on warmer clothing.
This is, of course, a ridiculous tactic. I’ve been practicing it for years and winter has come every time. Just the same, I think it’s similar to the way many of us react to career changes.
Given the current downturn, and the shape-shifting nature of today’s economy, pretending to ignore gathering clouds on your employment horizon is as silly as not putting the lining into your raincoat.
All you’re really doing is making yourself uncomfortable.
You know your employment situation will change, if not sooner then certainly later. If you took action, you could prepare yourself. As Pepper Giardino wrote, “Weather is a great metaphor for life – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.”
How can you suit up for potential inclement career weather? The first step is to stop expecting a time of clear sailing. Back when people used to take snow tires on and off their cars as the seasons changed, Wisconsinites always left their snow tires on.
You can do the same. Keep your resume up to date, even if you think you’ll be at your current job for a while. This will accomplish two things – you’ll be ready to jump on opportunities you discover and you’ll find it easier to keep track of your career accomplishments.
Stay current with developments in your field, and remedy any gaps you might have in your background. Acquiring expertise before you need it is a little like making sure your storm windows are in good working order. As you gaze through those well-maintained windows, you’ll not only get forewarning of what’s heading your way, you’ll be ready to handle it.
Keep networking, even if you think you don’t “need” to. Relatively stable times are perfect for making connections and helping out others, like putting in a good supply of firewood.
The French author Albert Camus famously wrote, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Maybe if we stop fighting a chill in the air, or the labor market, we’ll be able to discover our own endless summers and hot career paths.
by Danielle Dresden