Career Survival Tactics

Often the difference between surviving a layoff and having to find another job could be due to a simple opportunity lost by not following the following:-

Managing your current career

Be valuable and visible

Promote yourself

Specialise and brand yourself

Focus on making and / or saving money for your company.

Stay positive

Always make your team /manager look good

Consider mentoring opportunities


Invest in knowledge and self – improvement. Develop technical and non technical skills

Managing your future career prospects

Remember that job security is not tied to your ability to survive a layoff, but is more dependant on your ability to “bounce back” right away to find an equal if not better position. In the words of my first manager “it’s not the best candidate that gets the job, it’s the one that prepares the best that lands the job”. During my 15 years in the recruitment industry time and time again this proves to be the case. So increase your odds and prepare:-

Networking. How do you go about it? Well you simply go to a recruiter right? Well, statistics prove the vast majority of jobs are secured by other means than using a recruitment consultant. In fact MOST jobs are found through peoples own networks. Yes that means getting out and taking responsibility for your own search. You should take responsibility for your own job search and talk to everyone you know. Join industry groups, prepare target lists, become a social networker for hard core careerists leverage your contacts on Linkedin, Myspace, Face Book etc… Don’t forget to ask for peoples help, don’t forget people LOVE to help other people, don’t think you need to know the right people anyone can be the right one. Remember six degrees of separation!

Keep your resume current and professional. Once you have exhausted your networks and prepared your target lists you obviously need a resume. Remember this is a sales tool the only reason to put the resume together is to secure that interview. In general resumes are only read for 15 seconds, that means you only have a small window of opportunity to make a good impression, and secure that all important interview. On paper and online maintain a resume that markets your skills and potential, one that describes how you made a difference with concrete results. Employers look for results and for God sake SPELL CHECK!

Establish relationships with recruiters and headhunters. Like your network of industry colleagues it is important to know one or two specialist recruiters. They can be your “ears” as to hiring trends in your relevant industry. Relationships with recruiters go both ways – if you help them recruit by providing referrals, they can also recruit for you someday – whether your staffing your group or finding your next job. Either way, it’s a win-win situation. Because of their level and frequency of contact with other job seekers and hiring companies, you get “linked” indirectly to their network of contacts.

Interview Skills. Once you have secured that all important interview remember “ it is not the best candidate that gets the job it’s the one that prepares”. I can’t stress enough how extremely important this is. Devour the company’s website, come prepared with a written list of at least three well thought out questions. Challenge yourself to ask something that no one else interviewing for the job will think to ask. Feel free to word the same question differently to see if you get the same answer. If you interview with more than one person ask these different people the same questions; make sure everyone in the company is on the same page.

Negotiation Skills. Managing the next step of your career doesn’t end with a successful job offer – successfully negotiating the package you want, and from then on successfully negotiating your next steps within that company are crucial to achieving your goals. If you don’t negotiate for what’s important in your career, you have little chance of getting it. So how do you negotiate successfully? First of all, you put in your preparation. Research isn’t difficult. Or better still ask a specialist recruitment consultant. We know what the going rate is at this precise moment, and most of us aren’t scared to let you know!When you are asked what salary, or salary increase, you want, state your figure confidently. Don’t give a range – you’ll always be offered the lowest figure you mention. If you’ve done your research properly, the other party won’t be surprised by what you ask for.

And once you start negotiating, the key to success is to put yourself into the other party’s shoes – figure out why it is in their interests to provide what you want. If they genuinely are unable to provide, say, the salary you want, start thinking laterally. Ask “what if” questions. “What if I was able to cut costs by 15%, would you then be able to afford the extra $10K?” Sounds awfully like a performance bonus doesn’t it – and one that will benefit the employer as well as you. My experience is that candidates who are prepared to put some of their salary at risk are more likely to achieve what they want.

Use the skills of collaboration and compromise – if there’s a sticking point, ask “How can we work together to find something we’re both happy with?” If you still can’t find a solution, offer to split the difference: “I’ll settle for $5k over your initial offer.”

But first and foremost, remember negotiating is not a zero-sum game. It is possible to reach an agreement that both of you are satisfied with, even if neither of you are absolutely ecstatic. And if you’re both satisfied, you’re going to work well together.


Hopefully I’ve given you a bit to think about today. These are “musts’ and suggestions for anyone currently employed – whether facing potential layoff or not – to improve chances and maximize opportunities during these precarious economic times you must:

· Position yourself well. The idea is to be proactive with career options instead of starting to act only when the signs of trouble start. Have a worst case scenario plan.

· Keep your eyes on the company and your ears to the ground. Don’t be the last person left standing. Listen to your internal network, keep up with industry news. The more you know the more empowered you are to make an informed decision

· Focus on your current job. Don’t panic, don’t jump the gun. Instead of making hasty decision analyse the situation. Keep your head straight and your work priorities in order. Remember a downturn can’t last forever.

By fully considering all your options and implementing the suggestions listed, you can maximize your chances of surviving a layoff. And if you have to search for a new career you improve your chances of winning the interview game and landing an equally fulfilling position. It pays to be proactive and to be vigilant of industry trends. And remember it pays to make the most out of your current situation and be prepared for any change in your employment situation.

Good Luck



Louise has accumulated over 15 years of recruitment experience in the UK and Australia. After successfully managing teams for one of the world's largest finance recruiters, Louise transferred to the Sydney office in April 1999 to launch the Australian operations. Leading the Accounting and Finance divisions Louise launched new offices, and new product lines, managing the group through significant growth. After 10 years with this global listed recruitment company, in 2004 Louise founded Aequalis ...

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