Regardless of the field that you work in, there is one thing that you can count on. That things will never work out exactly the way you planned. Things happen that are just outside of your control. Your company may move jobs abroad, or restructure.

Your boss or co-workers may be replaced with people you just don’t get along with. When this happens, many people are left wondering what to do next. Their plan didn’t work out, so they are left adrift. You can avoid this by following the number one rule of career management: always be prepared.

Being prepared means having a “plan B” in place that you can turn to in case of emergencies. How do you develop a “plan b”? You can start by reading this list!

1)  Develop highly desirable transferable skills

No matter what your field, there are certain skills that are always desired in the workplace. Thankfully, these are skills that can be learned if you put in the effort and preparation.

  • Communication skills are invaluable. If you can’t communicate your ideas in an engaging way, it can be difficult to get other people to listen. Likewise, listening skills are essential if you want to ask excellent follow-up questions or provide feedback to your co-workers or boss.
  • Time management skills are useful to get your work done in an appropriate amount of time without causing any extra stress or panic. Learn how to structure your day to give you the right amount of time to finish your work and anything else that might come up.
  • Teamwork and leadership skills are necessary to progress in any type of organization. Management wants to see your ability to give and take with your co-workers. They want to be able to see if you can take direction while also being able to provide some. Learning to work with others is a skill that will help in every aspect of your life.
  • Technology skills are very important on the job. Knowing basic word processing isn’t enough anymore. Being proficient with Excel, with basic web design, knowing how to effectively use social media. These are things that employers look for and value in today’s job market. And with a little preparation, they are skills that you can possess.

2) Create a support network of peers

Everyone you meet on the job can potentially be a member of your career support network. Keep in mind that your fellow co-workers are all under similar pressures that you are. By becoming part of their support network, you can become part of theirs. This can lead to having the support of your peers at a time when you really need it. For example, if a member of your support network gets a new job and an opportunity or position opens up at their new company, they might think of you.

3) Develop a support network of mentors and coaches

Having someone in your corner who is also in a higher position than you are can be very valuable. Having a mentor or coach gives you a resource that can give you valuable advice and someone you can bounce ideas off. A mentor is someone who understands your strengths, takes you under their wing, and helps you reach your potential.

4) Build a personal support network

Having a network of peers and mentors to help you with your career is essential. But something that is often overlooked is having a healthy network of friends and family. For those of us who throw ourselves into our careers, we can sometimes take these people for granted. This a huge mistake. Our friends and family are the ones who can give us perspective on things, help us keep in mind what is really important in life. We can’t just assume that they will always be there for us if we are not there for them.

Part of your preparation must be to keep those relationships alive and healthy. Don’t lose sight of the people who will support you in ways that your co-workers and managers cannot. Also, by networking in social situations like a yoga class, you might develop personal connections that could help you in your career down the line.

5) Keep yourself informed

It is amazing how little some people know about the industry they work in. Keeping yourself in the “know” about what is going on in your company, the state of the economy, and where your industry is heading will assist you with long-term career planning. Keep in mind that many positions in today’s workplace are being replaced with technology. Is your job one of those positions? If so, it might be worth talking with your manager about moving to another role that is less likely to be eliminated.

6) Know what you want out of your career

Know yourself. Many people have no idea what they want out of life, let alone what they want out of their careers. Knowing what your passions and strengths are will help you create a career plan that will leave you feeling fulfilled and happy. By knowing your own abilities, you can start to maneuver yourself into opportunities at work that will show off your skills and get people to notice you!

7) Know who you want to work for

Many people in today’s job market find themselves working for companies that just don’t reflect their own values. Corporate culture is an incredibly important aspect of any company. If you find yourself in a job where you feel uncomfortable because of the corporate culture, it might be a good idea to decide if that is really the place you want to try to build a career in. When looking for a job, research the corporate cultures and values of an organization. If you find a company with similar values to you, you are far more likely to succeed there!

8) Work on your interview skills

If you decide that your current job just isn’t working out for you, or another more desirable job happens to come up, your interview skills will become very important. Every single point that is above this one comes into play.

You need to have the skills that this company is looking for. You need to have references, both from co-workers and from mentors that can prove you can do the job. You need to know the industry that you are applying for. You need to know what you want in your career and where you see yourself in a few years. And you need to know why you want to work for this company.

If you have prepared properly, you will have all of this information at your fingertips and can show this company why you are the perfect person for the job.

No plan is perfect and nothing goes exactly the way we plan. These are simple facts of life. In business and in your career, you need to be prepared for anything. Yes, it can take an awful lot of work. But when things turn bad, or don’t turn out the way you expected, this simple preparation might just turn a difficult situation into a wonderful opportunity!

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