Do you have a Job Search Plan Z?
Most job seekers concentrate on either what they are doing now or changing careers.
What you are doing now may be the easiest path to a new job because it’s easy for hiring managers to connect your abilities to their needs. You’re more likely to have recently solved the problems a hiring manager has today.
However, changing careers to a path that seems more fulfilling is tempting for those trying to move to a new job. After all, if you’re going through the effort of changing jobs, why not get a job that you’ll enjoy more, make you feel like you’re contributing to society, or that will earn you a higher standard of living?
In typical job search planning, job seekers have been encouraged to think of a:
- Plan A: What you’re doing now (or your most recent job). – This not only may be your smoothest way to finding your next job, it’s also the easiest to visualize. In tough job markets, many candidates seek the easiest and most predictable path.
- Plan B: What you’d like to be doing – If you’re a career changer, this is your new career; if you’re looking longer term, this is your next step towards your dream job (see Dream Job Visualization at: http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/05/11/if-you-cant-describe-it-how-can-you-find-it-dream-job-visualization/). Even if your dream job seems far-fetched, starting with visualizing that job you can start to plan a path to get there, breaking it into smaller achievable steps – if you’re a janitor and you want to be a test pilot, you might want to start with a couple of flying lessons.
- Plan C: Your fallback plan – Where do you go if you don’t want to do what you’re doing now and you’re not able to make that next step to your dream job? That’s plan C. More senior candidates might consider a step (or more) backwards, while rookies might consider temp work or work outside of their major. Plan C is the work you can get, rather than the career you want. Plan C pays your basic bills, but it’s unlikely (on it’s surface) to make you rich.
- Plan Z: Your safety-net, “what if nothing else works” plan. Plan Z might be consulting, freelancing, interning, or starting a small business (anything from eBay sales, a website for Bruce Springsteen fans, to lawn care services). Plan Z might seem like your worst case scenario, but Plan Z can turn up some very pleasant surprises.
Reid Hoffman, founder of Linkedin, writes in a recent Mashable article, “if you’re in your twenties and single, working at Starbucks and living with your parents might be a viable Plan Z, but if you’re in your thirties or forties with children, your Plan Z might be cashing in your 401(k).”
Plan B might be a job with another company, or might be starting up your own as an entrepreneur. Regardless of this choice, an entrepreneurial thought process will help you.
Having a viable Plan Z gives you the guts to go all-out in pursuing your A & B plans. If you have a Plan Z that you can live with (not like, but live with), it allows you to go after Plans A & B with 100% of your effort … because you won’t be distracted by worrying about “what if things don’t work”. If you have a livable Plan Z, you’ll know you won’t be left out on the street.
In his book “The Start Up Of You”, Hoffman relates in his Plan Z for starting Linkedin: “When I started my first company, my father offered up an extra room in his house in the event it didn’t work out — living there and finding a job somewhere else to earn money was my Plan Z. This allowed me to be aggressive in my entrepreneurial pursuits, as I knew I could draw my assets down to zero if necessary and still have a roof over my head.”
Hoffman’s book teaches us how to be entrepreneurs of our own lives – he states: “We must act as CEO of our careers, take control of our professional future, and become globally competitive. Not everyone should start companies, but everyone must be the entrepreneur of his or her own life.” Hoffman focuses his readers on “start-up mind-sets and skill sets you need to adapt to the future.”
These mind-sets are critical as candidates adapt to a flatter corporate structure, to global competition and competition from automation.
Global competition and automation doesn’t just affect the market for products … it affects the market for jobs also. As technology has brought increasing productivity gains and the internet has enabled work to be done away from a central office or factory – this was on the horizon for years, just waiting for an event like a major recession to kick the transformation of work into full gear.
But with every loser (the traditional definition of work) there’s a winner – the entrepreneurial work force. Seth Godin writes about the changed nature of work in “The Forever Recession”, giving this message of hope: “every forever recession is followed by a lifetime of growth from the next thing … ”
What’s right for you? Hanging onto the status-quo of your career (Plan A)? Reinventing yourself to create your dream job (Plan B)?
By developing an effective Plan Z, you’ll have the strength to give Plan A or B your best effort.
What’s your plan Z?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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