By: Greg Roche, Managing Director – Transition Services
Bad things happen. Cars crash. Houses burn. People get sick. Sometimes they die. All of these things have financial consequences. In most cases, people don’t have enough cash in the bank to pay for these consequences. But everyone knows these things happen. To protect themselves, people buy insurance.
Insurance exists to reimburse you if something bad happens to you. If you die early, your life insurance policy helps your family financially. If you get hurt and can’t work, disability insurance helps with your bills until you get better. If your house burns down, your homeowner’s policy gets you a new house. If your car is in an accident, auto insurance pays to have it repaired.
There are other bad things that happen. Losing your job is a bad thing. In the U.S., when you have a job, your employer pays for unemployment insurance. If you lose your job involuntarily, you can qualify for unemployment payments. These payments are intended to replace half of your income while you look for another job, but that’s not enough for people to maintain their current of standard of living. For most people, their job is their single biggest, and likely only, source of income. Income that pays for housing, food, and everything else. Like the car, house, or life insurance examples, most people don’t have enough cash in the bank to pay the bills if they don’t have a job. Yet, there is no insurance policy you can buy that would replace all of your income if you lost your job.
But there is a way to insure your income in the event you lose your job. You can’t get this policy from a broker or insurance company. You have to build this policy yourself, over time, in small, incremental steps.
Your professional network is your career insurance policy.
It’s the quickest way to find your next job. Everyone has heard you need to network to find a job. Everyone also knows you need to have a will before you die. In both cases, it’s too easy to put it off until it’s too late. Some people who are currently employed tell themselves, “If I work hard and do my job, I won’t need to look for a job.” Others tell themselves, “I really need to get out and meet people, but I’m too busy. I don’t have time.”
These people are turkeys.
The turkey has the best job in the world. Everyday, the turkey is fed and sheltered. His life is good. He doesn’t have to do anything but get fat and stay happy. Up until the 4th week of November. Then, the turkey is taken away from all this comfort and put on the chopping block – literally. He never sees it coming. People with jobs usually don’t see it coming either. They work hard, do their jobs, and one day, they are on the chopping block – figuratively. (Turkey story courtesy of Nassim Taleb in Antifragile)
And like every other type of insurance, career insurance is difficult to get after you have already suffered the loss.
How prepared are you for the sudden loss of your biggest source of income?
- Do you have a professional network that could quickly notify you of potential career opportunities?
- Would your network know what you are currently working on, what you are really good at, and how you could solve another employer’s problems?
- Would your professional network be willing to refer you to their connections or would they think to themselves, “I haven’t heard from this person in years, and he’s suddenly contacting me because he needs a job?”
How do you create a career insurance policy?
Build a vibrant professional network.
What does that mean?
Vibrant means full of energy and enthusiasm.
- Does that describe your professional network?
- Do you interact with your network on a daily basis.
- Do you add new connections every day.
- Do you contact existing connections everyday.
- Do you add value to the people in your network everyday.
It sounds time-consuming. It’s not. It can be 15 minutes out of your day, but it needs to be consistent, and it needs to be deliberate.
How do you make your professional network vibrant?
- Get active on social media.
- Find the communities that have interests similar to yours and share your opinion and other interesting facts.
- Open yourself up to letting people contact you. We all get solicitations and offers from people we don’t know, but take some time to see what people are saying or selling. Maybe it doesn’t work for you, but it might be good for someone in your network. You don’t have to give your contact’s name to the vendor, just pass the question along to your contact.
- Write and share your opinions and views on LinkedIn, Medium, or Quora.
- Not confident in writing? Start commenting on posts. Do this constructively and meaningfully. People who publish online love to read thoughtful comments, and if they see you are active, they may connect with you.
- Think about all the people you have worked with in the past. Connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Make a target list of companies. Why? Because you want to see how many people in your network already work at these companies.
- Make sure your online profiles are up to date and you have a good profile pic. If you are commenting and connecting with people, you want them to look at your profile and see you as someone who is active and providing value.
- Finally, turn all of these online connections into offline, in person relationships. Coffee, lunch, or just a phone call. Make it real.
If you do these things each day, over time, you’ll have a vibrant professional network.
As your professional network grows, your career insurance policy becomes more ironclad.
The day you hit the chopping block, figuratively, your professional network will spring into action and help you find a job to replace your income. And you can rest easy knowing that you’ll always have a career insurance policy to protect you in the future.
My name is Greg Roche, and I sell career insurance. I help people build vibrant professional networks so they can be confident in their ability to find their next great career opportunity. You can follow me on LinkedIn and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how I can help you today!