Do You Have a Career Disaster Management Plan?

When disaster strikes, we are often incapacitated by fear and confusion. Rational planning and decision-making are not always easy in such situations. Fortunately, we can learn a lesson or two from our corporate counterparts. Almost all large organizations have a comprehensive disaster management and emergency preparedness plan, documenting every conceivable action the organization will take in the wake of an emergency.

A personal disaster management plan should, at the minimum, cover the following:

Outline multiple scenarios

What career (or personal) emergencies can an individual face? From accidents to terminations, there is an exhaustive list of "what if XYZ happens". Think about all possibilities – false accusations, defamation, career mishaps, termination, relocation, transfer, sudden death, long term illness, plant closedown.

Create an action plan

Once you have outlined scenarios, create action plans (or a common action plan if you are grouping the what ifs) listing a series of steps (long term and short term) you will undertake.

Work out the financials

If you are downsized (or lose the ability to work for an extended period of time), how will you ensure the bills are paid? Do you have emergency funds? Have you purchased insurance? Will you take up a temporary part time or full time job? If that is an option, do you personally know someone who could, at a short notice, provide work?

List contacts

Develop a core team of individuals (or institutions) whom you will contact in the wake of an emergency. Local law enforcement officials, attorneys, CPAs, physicians, family members, friends, peers, networking buddies, industry contacts, industry associations, consultants, unemployment offices, recruiters, local companies, and others. Prepare a detailed list with contact information.

Develop a career plan

How will you handle your career immediately after the emergency? If you will need to look for a new job, outline a comprehensive career marketing plan with job search strategies, networking techniques, resume material, etc. Don't just touch the surface by listing strategies. Get into details, such as who, when, where, and how for each component.