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What NOT to do during a career crisis

Are you in a career crisis? Wait! Read at this article first, take a deep breath and then plan your next steps properly - you won't regret it.


You've just been laid off or your business has taken a nosedive. Or you realize you need a change -- fast. Nearly everyone panics and makes at least one of these mistakes. You're not alone if you've been there!

  1. Sign up for a resume mailing service.
    Resist the temptation to hire someone who will blast your resume to a thousand or more prospective employers, especially if you're beyond entry level. You may actually harm your own cause, as recipients will wonder, "Why would such a qualified candidate do this?"

  2. Sign up for an expensive "new career" program.
    Learn a new career for only five thousand dollars. Get certified as a communications specialist for three thousand. Learn the secrets of smart investing for a mere ten thousand dollars.

    When you're caught in the middle of a crisis, any of these options will sound like the answer to your prayers. Take time to do careful research before investing. Often you can learn all the skills you need at a local community college for a few hundred dollars.

  3. Accept a commission sales job if you've never sold anything and you even have trouble giving away a litter of kittens.
    My client Griselda called in great excitement. She had posted her resume to a computerized databank and now she had a job! Sure, it was straight commission insurance, and she really didn't understand insurance, but hey -- a job is a job, right?

    Yes! However, don't stop looking. Keep your resume out there. You may be a millionaire next time we talk, but you may realize after a week that you're not cut out for sales.

  4. Rely on an executive recruiter.
    Recruiters work for employers, not clients. When they send you on a job, you may be the designated "alternative candidate" rather than the first choice. Recruiters will fill openings they have.

    They will try to match the employers specifications, right down to the wire. Don't expect them to offer you career advice unless you're good friends or neighbors.

  5. Embark on a search for meaning.
    If you have ample resources, a sabbatical may be a good investment of time, if you have a plan and a goal.

However, all those books on "Find the work you love" were written for people who were not under pressure. Your first priority is to create a safety net, a buffer against financial and emotional disaster. Once you're comfortable, begin your search.

When you're adrift at sea, it's easy to grab for any floating object that appears to be a life raft.

Unfortunately, you may find yourself clutching a piece of seaweed or a piece of shark with a full set of teeth. Help will come if you don't panic. And you're a better survivor than you ever expected.


Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., author of Making the Big Move, helps midlife professionals navigate career and business transitions.


Click here to contact Cathy Goodwin


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