Going to work expecting to finish up a report and lead a meeting and having your workday end abruptly at 10:00 AM walking to your car with a box containing all of your workly positions, is jarring. What's even more jarring is the realization that now--SURPRISE--you have to find a new job so that you can continue your extravagant lifestyle of living indoors and eating on a regular basis.
For the whole of my professional career, I have worked in the field of corporate education in positions like software trainer, training specialist, sales training manager and instructional designer. Like many of my colleagues, I've also been laid off three times in my 20+ year career. (I know people who have me beat by at least a couple of times.) While fixating on the fear of losing your job is a horrible way to exist, there are a few things that you can do now--while you're happily, gainfully employed--that can help lessen the blow if you do happen to find yourself suddenly in need of a new position.
Build Your Professional Network
If you read any articles about effective ways to find a new position, leveraging your professional network is a key piece of advice. It's also harder to start networking when you have your proverbial hat in your hand and need something. It's better to start building your professional network before you need something. Your network is also much more than a job search resource.
LinkedIn is a great tool to help you build and connect with your professional network. At my current job, I connect with people on LinkedIn after we have met in person and even had a chance to work together. This way, the people in my LinkedIn network are not just a collection of random people I have as connections, but people who I actually know in a work context. I connect with people from my company, previous coworkers, friends from college, people I meet at professional development meetings and people who work as vendors with my current company.
I also foster a give and take of information with my network. I promote awards that my current company receives, share video content I've made and share resources that might benefit others. I also learn a lot from other people's postings, whether it's a useful article that a colleague wrote, an event that I may want to attend or industry news that might impact what educational content I might want to create next.
Update Your Resume In Real Time
My most recent layoff (which was 3+ years ago) happened after I had worked at the organization for 8 years. When my position was eliminated due to corporate restructuring, putting my resume together again was a challenge since I had years of diverse work experience to document. At that time, I knew details about recent projects, but it was harder for me to piece together all that I had done, and salient details that would help me get hired elsewhere.
Fortunately, and in rather unusual fashion, I was given a couple of months of notice that my job would be ending. That gave me the time to review my calendar, and files, to put together detailed descriptions of what I had done. This helped me put together a master resume. This isn't the final resume that you use to apply for a position. This is the big huge ridiculous document that contains everything you've done ever. From here, you pick and choose details that you'll include in your for real applying-for-a-job resume.
In general, I've become more proactive about recording what I do. In my time with my current company, I've had multiple job titles, managers and responsibilities. While these projects are fresh in my mind, I write down specifics on what I did, who I worked with, outcomes and tangible results. This helps me not only for a someday job search, but it also helps me position myself for additional projects, with professional organizations and as my company grows and evolves. Keeping a detailed list of projects, responsibilities and skills you were able to use will make resume writing much easier when the time comes.
Learn New Skills
Once upon a time, I was planning on being a high school English teacher. While my current career path focuses on education, suffice it to say that I ended up in a very different place than I originally envisioned. For example, much of my work in my day job revolves around planning, scripting and creating microlearning videos. Even 5 years ago, while I understood how to break down complex concepts to help others understand them, I did not have the technological skills created educational videos.
When I look at how the world has changed since earned my undergraduate degree, it's amazing. One of my first training jobs was as a software instructor teaching people how to use the big scary Internet. My first few job searches were done relying predominantly on the want ads in the Sunday newspaper. At one company, we were on the bleeding edge of technology by using instructor-led web based training before training by webinar was standard. With advances in technology, the workforce, and worldwide economic factors, things are always changing, and to stay employeable, you need to keep up.
Don't wait until your job's future seems uncertain to start learning. Go to professional meetings. Read website dedicated to your field. Listen to podcasts on topics of interest. Look at job descriptions for emerging positions to see what kinds of skills are in demand. Keep updating your skills so you're not left behind when change happens around you. Be Amazon, not Nokia.
What Do You Think?
What other career advice do you have to share?
Many people think of retirement as the magical day when they no longer have to work. The reality is that retirement is not just a one-time event. Instead, retirement is a phase of your life that could last decades. Part of the challenge of planning is making sure that you have enough saved in your retirement account so you can enjoy yourself without outliving your money.
My Experience with Retirement Planning
In a previous life, I worked as a corporate trainer supporting a group of Financial Coaches in one organization’s Retirement Planning Group. The goal of this team was to help people prepare to retire. This included financial coaching conversations about topics including saving, investment options, health care, and the million factors to be considered when figuring out the logistics of retiring. In addition, we also focused on helping people envision the lives they want to lead, and figuring out what financial resources would be necessary to make those retirement dreams a reality.
A Note on the Use of The Information in this Article
Here is my disclaimer regarding the content in this article. (We all know there has to be one of these just to set the record straight.) The ideas included are for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial advice. Concepts covered here are overly simplified examples of basic retirement related information. Please consult a qualified financial professional to learn additional details about each financial concept and to help you figure out what is right for you.
Just Tell me the Magic Number
Now, let’s get back to an often asked question about retirement planning. Many time, when having initial conversations about retirement, people just wanted us to tell them what they perceived to be a very simple question: How much money do I need to save for retirement?
One Common Answer
Sometimes, articles on retirement planning suggest a simple answer that even includes an actual dollar amount: $1,000,000.
That’s right. ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
Doesn’t that sound like a CRAZY amount of money? Certainly, if I had a million dollars, I’d be rich—and for sure able to do whatever I wanted in retirement.
One Key Factor: How Long Will Retirement Last
The trick with retirement is that it may last a really long time—think 30, 35 or even 40 years. When we’re working, we get more money every couple of weeks as long as we stay employed. In retirement, though, we start with a big pile of money and our goal is to figure out how to not run out of money while we’re still alive. So how do we do that?
How Much Yearly Income Could You Get from $1,000,000?
One common strategy for attempting to not outlive your retirement money is the 4% rule.
In super-oversimplified terms, the thought is that if you withdraw 4% of your total account value annually, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll have enough money to last you for 30 years. (Notice that the word “guarantee” is nowhere in this statement. There are no guarantees. There is only planning as best we can and adjusting our plan as we deal with the challenges life throws at us.)
Basically, if you start with $1,000,000 in retirement savings, and use the 4% rule as a guide, in your first year of retirement, you would withdraw $40,000 worth of income. If you’re for real using the 4% rule, you’d adjust what you take out each year based on inflation—meaning that you’ll typically end up taking out a little more each year.
How Much Do You Need?
Translating $1,000,000 into about $40,000 a year puts that amount in perspective. Depending on your lifestyle, you may need to save more, or less, money for retirement. One commonly recommendation for figuring out much income you need is to anticipate that you’ll need to replace approximately 85% of your pre-retirement income. If for example, your pre-retirement income is $50,000 per year, 85% of that would be $42,500. (Again, in this super-simplified version doesn’t consider other sources of retirement income, like Social Security, or inflation.)
One way to estimate the amount you may need to save is to take what you anticipate to be the annual income you want, multiply that number by 25, and use that as your overall savings goal. If, for example, you decide your annual desired income from your retirement account is $75,000 per year, $1,875,000 could be your desired retirement savings goal. (Again, in this super-simplified version doesn’t consider other sources of retirement income, like Social Security, or inflation.)
So Now What?
Check out these resources to give you another take on these topics. Don’t take my word for it—keep learning more so you can make the best decision for you.
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I learn for a living. I distill my research into useful blog entries. Geek, parent, knitter, yogi, writer, educator, businessperson, gluten intolerant & roller derby nerd.