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How to Be a Career Prepper

Hannah P. Morgan

You may have heard about National Geographic's television program Doomsday Preppers, which chronicles the lives and activities of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for a catastrophic event, such as nuclear war, financial crisis, or major natural disaster. This edutainment program, 50 percent education and 50 percent entertainment, shows Preppers, as they call themselves, stockpiling food and taking other proactive measures to protect themselves and their families in case of a disaster. What can you learn from Preppers to help you prepare for a career catastrophe? These are some proactive measures and supplies to stockpile in case you find yourself suddenly without a job.

Have a plan. No one likes to think about their job ending or being laid off. But having a plan can ease your mind. Just ask yourself what you would do if your job were to end tomorrow. What will you need to start looking for a new job? How long can you survive on your savings? Is that enough? If you needed a job tomorrow, where would you work? Doomsday Preppers don't live in a state of constant fear. They have thought through their plan and know what they will do and as a result, and many say that this gives them piece of mind.

Save money. Preppers strive to stash enough food to last them two weeks. Many do this by making small incremental food purchases. You can take the same approach by regularly putting small amounts of money into your savings account. If you are like most Americans, you don't have sufficient funds to cover six months of being without an income. In fact, 41 percent have less than $500 in cash, according to a CreditDonkey survey done in late 2012. Expect your search for a new job to take longer than you want, and remember that unemployment benefits generally are not enough to live on.

Be ready to run. A well-stocked go bag is an essential part of a Prepper's evacuation plan. It contains vital supplies they'll need when they leave their home base. We've all heard stories about people who were walked out of their office without notice, leaving personal belongings and files behind. Instead of a go bag, which you may not be able to take with you, store your important paperwork at home. This might include your copies of performance reviews, contact information for people you've done business with, emails from satisfied customers, recognition from the company, training certificates, and any other documentation supporting your successes and growth in your job. One final reminder: Be sure your LinkedIn profile is connected to both your personal and work email address so you will always have access to it.

Build a bunker. Preppers have a pre-determined location they will go when they need to hide out. In many cases, they've built a bunker. You can do the same by identifying who your next employer will be. Decide where you would like to work next and take steps to build contacts within that new bunker.

Watch for signs. Preppers look for signs that indicate an event is eminent. They regularly monitor global and local news sources looking for warning signs that might trigger a disaster and require them to take action. You should also watch for the signs. Listen to water-cooler chatter for hints of a merger or acquisition, forthcoming downsizing, or even closure. Don't just listen to your company leaders. Listen outside your company by monitoring news about your competitors and watching industry trends.

Other ways to prep. Some people say Preppers are just looking out for themselves, but others say that Preppers are building a network of support by educating others on what to do. To survive for a long period of time, most people believe you will need a community committed to working together. What are you doing to create a long-term survival strategy? Building alliances within your current company is important, but won't help you very much if you find yourself out the door. Begin seeking opportunities to meet people who work outside your company and build mutually beneficial long-term relationships. Also begin creating a personal reputation of excellence, on- and off-line.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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