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Justin Case - how to prepare for that announcement

Justin Case - how to prepare for that announcement

Flicking through a catalogue recently I came across something called Justin Case. You may have seen it.

It's a normal looking briefcase and when you open it, the top half of a full size man in a business suit pops out. You can then put him in the car beside you to ward off muggers (or use high occupancy vehicle lanes - when they come in).

Justin has come to mind recently because for the last couple of weeks I've been working in a large blue chip where nearly 10% of the workforce will be made redundant by one means or another.

It's the first time something of this scale has happened and to be thrust into the outside world after 20 years or more can be a shock if you’re not ready for it.

Imagine if you came into work one morning and you’d been taken over, your job was redundant or your company had gone bust. All three have happened to me and a wise manager, like you, will be ready for something like this, knowing that it could happen anywhere at any time.

As I talk to people dealing with the impact of a life changing announcement it seems there are some things they wish they had done. Many of these are things you should be doing now - rather than wait to do them when somebody hands you a redundancy package.

So here's my Justin Case Survival Guide - things you can do NOW to prepare for possibility of career transition (ugh!) or redundancy.

Refresh your personal brand

As you walk about at work you are always advertising your personal brand. I regularly meet managers (mostly blokes) heading towards mid-life who have let their brand slip a bit. If you want a new employer to buy you then here's a few obvious reminders.

Know what your skills are so you can talk about them

Create a list of your core skills - a skill is something tangible that you can do - planning, organising, monitoring, controlling etc. Write down a list of your skills - one day you will need to talk convincingly about examples of using these skills.

Do work you care about

As far as possible concentrate on doing what you love and enjoy. Of course, this presupposes that you actually know what you love and enjoy - if you don’t, find out. Isolate the elements of your work that you love and do more of that. Do less of what you don’t love. This way you increase your productivity and pleasure at work AND most importantly you have a good idea of what to do next if the worst should happen. It's a win-win - you get to enjoy your work and prepare for the future.

Work your net

Make sure you have a copy of key contact names, addresses and phone numbers at home. One day you may need a network so warm it up now - get in touch with old contacts who have lapsed. Expand your Christmas card list. You never know when you might be able to help a key contact. Remember to include customers and suppliers in your network.

Keep your CV fresh - every month

Keep your CV up to date. A good way of doing this is to maintain a constant list of your achievements. Update it weekly with a note of what you have done - use the STAR format:

Doing this is a chore but it can pay off very big for you in increased confidence and readiness to talk about what you can do. (Bonus tip: produce your list at your next appraisal and give your boss a fright!)

Know who you are - apart from work

Base your self esteem and self identity on something other than your job title - so when someone takes it away then you will still know who you are.

And who knows? You’ll probably find if you do these things that you’ll get promoted and if the worst should happen then you’ll be ready for it.