Finding Work When You Fear Losing Your Job

With headlines screaming about the economy hitting very rough waters, it's only natural to wonder, "Could this result in my losing my job?"

If you fear being downsized, there are many strategies you can employ to navigate to a new job, according to John Challenger, CEO of the well-known outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

On The Early Show Tuesday, he outlined several of them to co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.

Among them:

  • Look while you're employed
  • Post resume online anonymously
  • Network on weekends
  • Look outside your local area
  • Look at all size companies
  • Learn new skills

    Industries where the job picture is stable include:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Energy and Mining

    Challenger offered this guidance:

    You have a right, even when you're employed, to start looking and try to get a jump on it. Many people do look for jobs while they're working. You can post your resume anonymously on job boards online, you can start networking your field or industry on weekends, doing things such as meeting people for coffee or tea.

    Sometimes, you can take advantage of tuition reimbursement that your company may offer, or you foot your own bill to go back to school to increase your skill set.

    It's indeed a tight job market, because fewer jobs are being created and more people are looking for them. Some two-point-two million more people are unemployed now than a year ago. So, people need to be considering several ways to expand their search:

    Look outside of your local area. If you live in a small town, be open to finding a job in a big city. A lot of people in small towns may have built up intolerance to living in a big city, but they may have to. That would give them more options. You have to do things that expand your potential.

    Geography may not help much, though. There are not really any safe havens with this economic slowdown, driven by the credit crisis and energy crisis, because they are such fundamental forces in our country. Everybody is affected. One of the strongest areas has been the Southwest, because its energy sector has been so strong, and is likely to stay that way. Energy prices are coming down, but it looks like the demand for energy will have a longer-term effect that will outweigh the short-term effect of this economy slowdown.

    Be open to changing industries and open to developing or enhancing skills in your field or developing new skills by retraining.

    Look at companies of all sizes.

    Fields where the jobs front is more promising include:

    Healthcare: The strongest and most stable. You may choose to get skills in physical therapy or to go back to school to learn medical imaging technology, or to go back to school to learn new medical records technology. This is for people who are considering making a career change.

    Education: There are teaching and teacher's assistant positions, and also business education or training and development jobs. There are companies in the private sector that have large demand for training and development, where they educate their people in the skills that the company requires. More companies are providing this.

    Energy and Mining: People coming out of the automotive sector want to consider this. There is real demand in the energy and mining industry and in raw materials. There is a lot of demand, because of energy shortages, for alternative power. Some growth in coal and alternative energy and nuclear power is likely. So, energy shortages are leading to much more development and jobs in those areas. Mining is one of those areas that are growing because of the demand for raw materials.

    As for one industry that's simply been reeling -- the financial sector:

    If you are leaving a bank, maybe you can go to a smaller firm, hedge fund, or and private equity firm. Some people are going into allied areas, such as insurance, that require similar skills. And some are changing industries. About 40 percent of people do. If you were a relationship manager, you may go into sales, because your real field is not necessarily banking. It's maybe more in business development and relationship management and customer services. If you are in human resources in banking, where jobs are declining, you may want to go into a healthcare company. Most people do have the kind of skills that enable them to go from one industry to another.