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Recession-Proof Your Career
Overcome Your Recession Fears
By Bob Rosner and Sherrie Campbell

Fear. It's palpable during a recession. We can all feel it in the pit of our stomachs. We're going to give you an action plan to address your fears so you can not only survive, but thrive during this current United States recession.

Let's start by identifying your attitude. To help you, we've outlined four specific recession coping strategies below. You'll undoubtedly note a bit of "fowl" play in our list to coincide with our current economy.

  • Chicken Little - "The sky is falling!" "The sky is falling!"
  • Ostrich - Sticking your head in the sand.
  • Buzzard - Circling your company just waiting for it to die.
  • Eagle - Using the economic turbulence to rise above the storm.

Some of you have already figured out where you fall on the list. We'll help you build an action plan to address your fears, below. If you aren't sure which flock you're in, keep bird watching, it should become clear soon.

chicken-current-recession
Chicken Little.
No threat can be overestimated. But, heck, even during the worst Montana thunderstorm, we've never seen the Big Sky fall. Mr. Little's refrain is to always anticipate the worst, regardless of recession history or facts.

There is one big difference between Little and you. He got a big movie deal with Disney, residuals and lots of plush toys. In other words, he has turned his act into a money-making machine. Trust us, he is one rare bird. That paranoia probably won't work as well for you. So start by asking yourself the following questions:

Chicken Little's Checkup Questions:

  • Have you survived a recession before?
  • Who do you know that is succeeding during the current United States recession while others are panicking?
  • What is your recession goal?

If Chicken Little's shoe fits you, then you should take specific steps to get out of that frame of mind and address your recession fears.

Chicken Little's Action Plan for Surviving a United States Recession:

  1. Learn from yourself! If you are over 7 years old, you have survived at least one recession. If you're 45 or older, you made it through the economic recession in the 70s (not to mention Woodstock and bell bottoms) and three additional recessions. But chances are that you've forgotten your survival strategies. Pull out bank receipts and bills from past recession periods to see where you cut corners. Look through old calendars or files to remember workplace strategies you used that were successful.
  2. Learn from others. Look at all the people you know. Chances are that at least a few of them are doing well despite the economic challenges. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee and then pick their brains. Let your friends help you through this current recession.
  3. Establish a career goal. Chicken Little burns up a lot of energy running around unfocused. Avoid that mistake. Establish clear goals for your career and where you'd like to end up.
ostrich-current-recession
Ostrich.
Did you know that Ostriches are the fastest animal on two legs? Isn't it ironic that the big bird has the reputation for putting its head in the sand as opposed to running away from a serious threat? Maybe that description also applies to you! Start by asking yourself the following questions.

Ostrich's Checkup Questions:

  • Are you paying attention?
  • Are you constantly on the lookout for new opportunities?
  • Are you ready to run?

If you are feeling like an Ostrich, use the following as a foundation to your plan of attack for the current recession.

Ostrich's Action Plan for Surviving a United States Recession:

  1. Stay in the know. It's easy to check out when the going gets tough. (Is the economy still in a recession?) After all, you can only ingest so much bad news, but a bird still needs to eat. It is important to know what's going on in your community and in your industry so opportunities don't pass you by.
  2. Pursue long shots. Spend a half-hour every day pursuing long shots. Write to people you read about in the newspaper and on the Web to explore possible business collaborations. When everyone else is pulling back you should be pulling out all the stops.
  3. Respond quickly. You've worked hard to open doors and get where you are in your career. If you see an opportunity, be ready to react. Have an information packet about you, or your business idea, ready to go on a moment's notice.
buzzard-current-recession
Buzzard.
It's tough to have energy while you are watching your organization struggle. We understand the temptation to just circle the carcass looking for your pound of flesh during an economic recession. But remember, life goes on. And so should you. Start by asking the following questions.

Buzzard's Checkup Questions:

  • Do you ask yourself what's next?
  • Is there anything going right inside your company?
  • How can you keep your attitude out of a death spiral?

If the buzzard point of view matches yours, then consider following the action plan below.

Buzzard's Action Plan for Surviving a United States Recession:

  1. Look ahead, not just in the rearview mirror. Sure you want to focus some effort on severance and unemployment insurance. But don't put the majority of your efforts there. Start looking forward to your next opportunity.
  2. Look for signs of life inside your company. Rarely does an entire company go dead at once. There are often departments that are successful. Seek out places and people that are succeeding during the current recession.
  3. Find techniques for staying positive. Exercise. Eat better. Stay away from the news just before bed time. Volunteer. Find creative ways to use your nervous dark-side energy for good!
current-recession
Eagle.
There are a lot of possible ways to cope with a storm, but the Eagle's is impossible to top because they fly OVER storms. Eagles will let the turbulent winds push them over the storm to bluer skies. "Yeah, right," you're thinking. "I'm no eagle!" That's why we've included the following questions to help you soar to a level you might not have thought possible during this current recession.

Eagle's Checkup Questions:

  • Do you anticipate, but not fear, trouble?
  • What would someone in your position never do during the current recession?
  • How can you rise above your current situation?

Ready to fly like an eagle? We've included an action plan below.

Eagle's Action Plan for Surviving a United States Recession:

  1. Create an early warning system. Eagles are famous for anticipating a storm before other animals. You need to do the same during the current recession. Identify variables in your industry that point to trouble ahead. For example, pay attention to key customers whose buying patterns are leading indicators for the entire industry. The earlier you spot potential trouble, the sooner you can start developing solutions to address it.
  2. Try something unexpected. The eagle flies right into the storm. What can you do that is equally surprising? Do you have a former boss that you left on bad terms? See if you can repair the relationship.
  3. Expand your vision. It isn't an accident that we refer to someone as being eagle-eyed. Because eagles have great vision and the largest hunting range of any bird. How can you expand your vision? Start by looking beyond your zip code. Or to another industry.

Bob Rosner and Sherrie Campbell author the weekly internationally-syndicated workplace911 column. Bob's a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. Sherrie's a work relations expert and award-winning comedian. Together they offer 12 years of quick, intuitive and humorous column responses on their workplace911.com website. You can e-mail them at bs@workplace911.com.