Ray’s Take In the “good old days,” many individuals felt comfortable with a lifetime employment approach to their careers. Perhaps they might not become wealthy, but they felt their jobs and pensions were secure. They would then blithely go about their tasks without paying attention to what else was going on in their company. The world is very different now, and it is now essential to regularly scan the health of your career, the company you work for and its competitors.
Do you know how financially stable your company is? If you work for a publicly traded company, the stock market may give you some idea, though that is only one factor. There’s a host of public information out there, starting with things as basic as an annual report. A company’s financial outlook is just as important for the 52 percent of Americans who work for small companies. Either way, you need to be alert for warning signs to protect your future.
Small changes could add up to big consequences, and you are more likely to spot them before the research analysts on Wall Street. Sudden changes or cutbacks can be the beginning. Other signs are reductions in health benefits or 401(k) contributions.
Personnel changes could be warning signs, too. If top-level employees are leaving, they may know something you don’t. Changes in the regular workflow, an inordinate number of closed door meetings and employee vacancies going unfilled are other causes for concern.
Anytime a company is sold, sells off key assets or engages in a merger, it could indicate a potential problem. In the case of mergers, the resulting company may be stronger, but you might find your job is redundant.
If you start to see the warnings of cash-flow problems or major change coming to your employer, keep in mind your personal productivity has a lot to do with your company’s financial future. Try to be part of the solution your company needs, but keep your resume and networking skills fresh. Just in case.
Dana’s Take Just like an earthquake drill, a good career drill is writing down people you would contact in case your job, employer or industry started to feel shaky. Neighbors, church and school friends, and even former co-workers can be good sources of job possibilities.
If you’re out of touch with some of the people on your list, get busy. Reach out and catch up over coffee or lunch. Sign up on social media like Facebook and LinkedIn and get your name circulating.
If your list of contacts looks skimpy, get involved. Consider joining professional associations, business, or civic groups. Volunteering can be a great source of contacts, too.
So turn off that video game and get out there. Building a network of support can lead to great things in your work life and social life.
Ray Brandon is a certified financial planner and CEO of Brandon Financial Planning (www.brandonplanning.com). His wife, Dana, has a bachelor’s degree in finance and is a licensed clinical social worker. Contact Ray Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org.