Budget cuts prompt career decisions

‘Tis the season of budgets. The clouds of job cuts are moving in, bringing belt-tightening and restructures. Uncertainty will fog judgement. Rumours will flood the grapevine. Stress levels will rise. While some may welcome the opportunity to rethink their careers, many will feel threatened by these unwelcome and involuntary transitions.

Whether directly affected by these changes or not, May signals a time to prepare. Rather than wait till any changes are imminent, a career activist prepares and plans in advance. To help with these preparations, here are ten steps to consider.

  1. Keep informed. Find out what is proposed. Attend briefings. Read documents. Talk to people ‘in the know’ so you gain a realistic idea of likely possibilities. Be an active player in the changes.
  2. Avoid doomsayers. Avoid becoming embroiled in rumour, hearsay and negative conversations that incite anxieties and waste energy on false information.
  3. Tap resources. Use resources such as Employee Assistance Programs, to tap professional support.
  4. Build a support network. Surround yourself with people away from work who will support you when you need to whinge and gripe.
  5. Monitor your stress levels. Take extra care of your wellbeing. Stay healthy and active.
  6. Update your resume. Don’t wait till you need to apply for another position to prepare your documents.
  7. Conduct a skills audit. Knowing what you have to offer in terms of skills, knowledge and experience, helps you to identify where your strengths lie, what your passion is, and where you might be best matched for future opportunities.
  8. Consider your options. Take time out to look at all options, even if what you face is uncertain. Keep an open mind and explore all possibilities. Do you ‘jump ship’ early, wait until there is certainty, retire, take extended leave?
  9. Seek financial advice. Find out what impact a change in income will have. Explore options with a financial advisor to inform your choices.
  10. Keep networking. Stay in touch with people rather than bunker down. Opportunities can arise from people you know rather than formal recruitment processes. Identify who can speak on your behalf to support you in your next career move.

First published in The Canberra Time’s Public Sector Informant, May 2011.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.