One way to minimize the fear around taking risks is to plan for the worst consequences. Short of having your boss or a coworker go postal on you, the worst that can happen is that you’ll get fired (not that that isn’t pretty bad). Below are some tips, excerpted from “The Corporate Creative”, to help you hit the ground running should that happen.
- Create a web site that includes samples of your work, a bio, a résumé and other relevant information about yourself. Make sure the design of the site showcases your talent. Include the URL on all promotional pieces and communications.
- Have a brand identity for yourself designed and ready to launch on business cards, letterhead, e-mail signatures, résumés and your web site.
- Establish relationships with recruiters, both permanent and full-time agencies, up front. Don’t wait to be fired to start looking for firms that are a good fit for you. Also, be willing to become a contract worker even if only temporarily. Many temp gigs turn into full-time opportunities, or you may find that you like the temp design lifestyle. One note, I’ve noticed a trend in corporations to staff up with full-time contract employees.
- Network like a maniac. Join industry organizations such as AIGA, InSource, Graphic Artists Guild and the Design Management Institute. Go to conferences. Stay in touch with former coworkers. More jobs are found through these types of connections than by responding to employment ads.
- But don’t rule out Monster, CareerBuilder and other employment sites. Register with them now. They’ll give you a sense of what’s going on in our industry. You may even want to take courses to bone up on skills you don’t have that you notice are in demand.
- Publish and speak on topics of interest to you and the design industry. Write articles for design publications, newsletters, web sites and blogs. Present to smaller regional groups and then larger conferences. This looks good on your résumé, helps you network and trains you in how to organize your thoughts and present them effectively (good skills when you’re interviewing).
- Put aside money as a cushion. This may not be possible, but if you’re contributing to an IRA or 401K, know that you can tap into this money though this should be an absolute last resort.
- Make sure you have an understanding of your rights, both with your company and the government, when it comes to severance and unemployment compensation.
- However the firing is handled, conduct yourself graciously and professionally. Former coworkers who witness your exit may one day be hiring managers.