Job Worries? Create a Backup Plan

Learn the steps you can take to ease your mind and maintain your career.

May 1, 2008 — -- Dear WOUNDED: I'm worried about getting laid off. What do I do?

ANSWER: Layoffs happen! During an economic recession, careers can take a fall from grace. When it comes to overcoming a fall, we think of Alcides Moreno. His name might not be familiar, but his story is impossible to forget. Mr. Moreno is the New York City window washer who fell 47 floors to the pavement and lived to tell the tale.

An NYC Fire Department spokesman said surviving such a dramatic fall was nothing short of a miracle. Don't get us wrong, miracles are great. We're just not sure that hoping for a miracle is the best strategy for surviving a career fall, especially during a recession. You'll want a backup plan to help you explore new options in the case of a career tumble. For more, check out our backup action plan at

Unfortunately most of us don't just do our job, we ARE our job. A layoff can feel like identity theft. Ask yourself: What do you like to do? What was your all-time favorite project? What is your fantasy job? There are 28,800 job titles listed in the U.S. Government's Dictionary of Occupational Titles. There's probably a title in there that's a perfect fit for you. But it's not going to come looking for you — you're going to have to find it.

People reinvent themselves all the time. Take a look back at your own resume. Chances are you've had a dramatic career shift or two during the course of your work history. We all have. But we tend to forget the zigs and zags of our own careers. Gig Zig is a tool you can use to provide a variety of career options related to your current job and possible paths to get there. Talk to a career counselor. Ask friends and colleagues what sort of career they see you pursuing, you may be surprised by what they suggest.

Some people just aren't built to work for someone else. That's why it's important to explore the entrepreneur inside of you. Between the two of us, we've started six corporations, so we're used to the ups and downs of the start-up lifestyle. Create a business plan outline for your best ideas. Talk to entrepreneurs. Play a game of "Sim" business.

If you're thinking about a career change, you need to prepare yourself for possible gaps in income. Do you have a paying skill that you know will bring in money? For example, have you ever met a waiter in NY or LA that wasn't an actor? We haven't. Do you have a lapsed teaching certificate, jazzercise teaching background, or experience as a night watchman? Have a job to bank on while you develop a new way to make bank.

Creating a backup plan is like a safety net that will help you bounce back should your career ever takes a serious fall.

Thought for the Week

List of the Week

Too much drama?...Workers tell which type of movie describes their workplace

32 percent of workers said drama

28 percent of workers said comedy

11 percent of workers said adventure

6 percent of workers said horror or war movie

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. Check out his 13 years of searchable content at He'd also love to hear your workplace rants or raves, at publishes a new Working Wounded column every Thursday.This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.