- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Phoenix Rising

By Evan Offstein, Contributing Editor

Article Sponsored by: Vinnell Arabia

In the last couple of months we have seen unprecedented turmoil in the financial and equity markets.  Profit and not-for-profit organizations are fighting to keep their head above water.  Today I want to share with you a few ideas that will help you to not only stay afloat but even prosper in the current environment.  You can emerge from this turbulent situation stronger and ready to take advantage of the rebound that is sure to occur.

Rule 1 – Network Now. 

Even if you are currently employed, you should devote at least 10% of your week to activating, building, and energizing your network.  Networking is a continuous activity and not something you do only when laid-off or downsized, at which time it becomes an act of desperation.  Take a proactive approach and remember a couple of critical networking rules.  First, networking should be fun and genuine, not just an economic transaction where one tries to “get something” from a network partner.  Second, networking is not all about you.  It is an activity where you get more out of it when you put more into it.  Help others when you can.  Doing so will make sure that others will be there to lend a hand when you need it.  Third, there are many places to look for network contacts, including trade and industry associations, conferences, alumni networks, and on-line platforms such as LinkedIn.   

Rule 2 – Educate Yourself Now.

One of the best times to revisit your education goals is during a downturn.  Not only does education benefit the individual, but it also contributes to the organization and economy.  It makes you smarter and more competitive.  In a competitive job market, employers look for reasons to remove candidates from the recruiting process, and all else being equal, the candidate with a graduate degree or a professional certification is more likely to make the cut.  This alone however hardly justifies pursuing a degree or certification.   More importantly, organizations and markets need smart people to help us and others emerge from this downturn.  Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, remarked on CNBC that innovation will ultimately deliver us from this recession.  Since innovation requires bold and new ideas, education is often involved.  Education takes many forms, including undergraduate or graduate degrees, industry certifications, or specialty skill training.  If your current organization does not offer professional development and training, pay for it yourself.  Never forget that you are responsible for investing in and growing your own human capital – you.


Rule 3 – Find a Mentor. 

You should identify two mentors – one within and one outside your current organization.  Mentors fill many professional and personal related functions.  On the personal side, they can act as sounding boards and can even be a friend.  Sometimes during difficult times we just need a friendly ear to listen to our concerns and frustration.  On the professional side, a good mentor can shield you from corporate shrapnel, keeping you safe and insulating you from damaging organizational politics.  More importantly, they can help you navigate your career by ensuring you take the right jobs at the right times.  As with networking, it is imperative to give back and return the favor by mentoring someone else – an indirect way of saying thanks for the mentoring that you received.


The end of world is not near.  Our economic system is the gold standard.  Although the gold may have lost some of its luster, the power of free markets, innovation, and responsible risk-taking will return.  If you invest and live by the three rules mentioned above, you’ll position yourself to prosper handsomely when the economy rebounds. 

- Dr. O 

Return to June 2009 Issue