HOWTO BEAT THE DOWNTURN
Ten things that will keep you safe instead of sorry as the job market tightens
he Apollo 13 moon mission was what the US space agency NASA calls a successful failure: “The astronauts didn’t get to the moon but we got them home alive”. As the Indian economy heads into a jobs emergency, it is important that innocent victims— and there will be many— keep life in perspective and prepare for successful failures. Here are 10 things to remember for people who are looking for a job or those who are worried that they will be looking for one soon:
1 A job is better than no job. Hiring isn’t going to bounce back till after elections. Those who have jobs should wear helmets and hide under desks. Those that are looking should lower their expectations; this is not the time to be choosy. And a large part of our labour market is not yet mature enough to not hold gaps in resumes against the individual.
2 Stick it out. This is a great time to innovate, pick up the work of colleagues who have moved out, and volunteer for additional responsibilities. Don’t hesitate to market yourself.
3 Invest in learning. Downturns are a great time to invest in new skills, upgrade old ones or polish rusted ones. The pace of change is accelerating and the world of work— skilled or unskilled, rural or urban, manufacturing or services— is changing because of technology. This is about understanding the convergence of computing, communication and business.
4 Stay in touch. Most jobs are not found through people you know well ( strong ties) but through the periphery of your network ( loose ties). Stay loosely in touch with schoolmates, ex- colleagues, parents of your child’s schoolmates, and everybody else.
5 Save more. The best preparation for tough times is living within means, limiting credit card and other debt, and deferring discretionary consumption. Financial flexibility is crucial to the ability to wait for better options.
6 Don’t fight the age battle. There are some jobs which are biased in favour of the energy, enthusiasm and low cost of younger people. Avoid them. In tough times, experience counts for a lot. Remind employers that you are older, wiser and therefore more dangerous.
7 Keep friends and family close. Remind yourself that we don’t live in an economy but a society. The best things in life aren’t things and the economic weather of the moment will pass. Time with family and friends will act as the grounding for your recovery.
8 Negotiate and try harder. The hit ratio for interviews plummets in tough times. Make more statistically independent tries. There is less to go around and therefore the craft of negotiation matters. Be prepared to articulate what non- financial stuff like designation, learning opportunities, roles, location and much else you are willing to trade off for salary.
9 Consider entrepreneurship. I’ve never met an unhappy successful entrepreneur but know many unhappy successful employees. Tough times cannot only be the door to becoming your own boss, but offer unique opportunities because of less competition.
10 Don’t take it personally. A lot of people who will be looking for jobs in the next few years will do so for reasons that have little to do with personal performwww. indiatodayimages. com ance. The global and Indian economy is tanking. But those who will come out stronger on the other side will keep the faith in themselves.
Despite what it feels like, India’s long- term potential is unchanged. The global crisis has combined with goofy governance and election uncertainty to create a toxic cocktail. But this too shall pass and individual optimism is a key survival skill. As poet Oscar Wilde said, “We are in the gutter together but some of us are looking at the stars.”