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Get Ahead of the Curve If You are Feeling Uncertain About the Security of Your Job

As HR practitioners it’s all too easy to get caught up in looking after everyone else’s issues in your organisation without sometimes pausing to take care of yourselves. Recent downsizing exercises and organisational transformational programmes across Asia Pacific Japan have been leaving HR Leaders stretched to full capacity since late last year, especially considering the cutbacks in HR teams that would have in the past provided operational support.

We have witnessed some unfortunate situations in the past six months where HR Leaders, heavily focused on downsizing efforts to meet corporate objectives, have fallen victim to the corporate axe themselves. Some of these HR practitioners, blindly loyal to their organisations, have found themselves not only without a job, but also without any plan on how they will find a job.

“In the back of your mind”, says Matthew Chapman, Managing Director of The Chapman Consulting Group, “it’s always important to have a ‘Plan B’. Even if you’re loyal to your organisation and see a long term future there, take occasional time to think of the ‘what if'”. Chapman continues: “This doesn’t necessarily mean actively looking to the market or attending interviews every week – it’s about formulating a career development plan that is in your hands, and not necessarily being left in the lurch by your current employer”, says Chapman.

In formulating a back-up plan, Chapman advocates some of the following strategies, should you fear the security of your current HR job could be threatened in the future :

1) Involve Yourself Actively in Well-Thought-Out Networking

Be selective with your time and prioritise what you should attend. This doesn’t need to be networking with the overt purpose to secure a new job. It can simply be to connect with other parties on market information or even to update each other on career progress. “Industry forums where peers from competitors will be attendance can be extremely valuable”, says Chapman. “You can attend or, even better, do a presentation”, he says. Reconnect with ex colleagues from previous organisations who have a good impression of you – particularly those in positions of influence. “These people are valuable as they know your track record”, believes Chapman.

2) Maintain an Updated Re€sume€, a Bio Document and ‘LinkedIn’ Profile

Should you get a call out of the blue for a potential career opportunity or even a casual discussion on a future opportunity, it’s sensible to be able to send a CV or biographical ‘snapshot’ to the other party. Don’t wait to prepare it after a call – you could be too busy to do this when the call comes. And always keep the document updated. “Naturally you need to be careful and selective where you send your CV”, says Chapman. “Apart from a CV, we think a bio document outlining your career experience succinctly, much the same as you might expect to see in a corporate profile on a website or an internal intranet, is also sensible”. ‘LinkedIn’ profiles have also become extremely popular and allow a more passive way for HR Leaders to keep an ‘iron in the fire’ for potential employers to search on.

3) Selectively have Discussions on Interesting Opportunities in the Market

“Some HR folks see the job-hunt process as an on and off sort of thing, and this is a mistake”, believes Chapman. “It should be a continuous process that seamlessly happens, even when we are happy and comfortable in our current jobs. External market discussions on opportunities equip us with a strong awareness of market conditions, an understanding of what competitors are doing and most often reinforce how good our current job is versus what’s for offer in the market”, says Chapman. He does caution though about being selective about which external discussions to have and warns that these should be done in moderation. “Put yourself too ‘out there’, and you risk jeopardising your market reputation and sometimes confidentiality”, mentions Chapman.

4) Take on More Responsibilities Internally and be Visible

If you are feeling that your current role could be in jeopardy or see the risk of this in the future, try to proactively take steps which can increase your role security. Talk with your leader about taking on additional responsibilities. “Double-hatting or triple-hatting, has been a life-line for some HR practitioners in retaining their jobs”, says Chapman. According to him now is not the time to be sitting around idle and not being busy. “Take on every HR project you can get your hands on and make sure people know about your achievements”, Chapman advocates.

5) Seek out Your Career Mentors

Look to the people who know you well and know your ambitions. These could be ex HR bosses, family and friends, people you admire in the HR field externally or even business stakeholders. Talk candidly with them on your career and use them as a sounding board. Seek their advice and guidance, and continually keep them apprised of developments in your career. “Your career mentors know you best and will be able to provide you a reality check, keeping you honest on whether you are making the best career decisions”, says Chapman.

6) Ensure the Right Headhunters Know You

“The smartest HR practitioners, I’ve always felt, are those who see a relationship with the right HR headhunter as one resembling a career coach and mentor. It should be someone who can you talk openly to, on an ongoing basis, about how your career is progressing and where you see it going”, says Chapman. “Equally, the most successful HR headhunters are those who give their HR alumni the degree of trust that allows them to open up”, adds Chapman. Like job hunting and maintaining an updated rƒesumeƒ, the relationship with your headhunter should resemble that of your career mentor — it should be a continuous one and shouldn’t start just when you are searching for a job. “You also want to be on the radar as early as possible”, according to Chapman.

In managing your career in times of uncertainly like today, the trick is to be proactive enough to visualise the unexpected happening before it happens. Even if your job remains safe now, you’ll be much better placed to ride out these turbulent times without any adverse career affects if you formulate back-up strategies. For sure, keep your focus on delivering as well as you possibly can in your job as, now more than ever, strong performance is critical. But don’t forget to keep an eye on yourself and make sure you’re managing your HR career in way that gives you the best security and options possible.​

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