Is it OK to panic?

Sports gone. Markets crashed. Office closed.

With the world falling apart due to coronavirus, you may be wondering…is it OK for me to panic now?

And you know what?

It’s probably OK.

At least for a few hours, go ahead and lose control. Go to pieces. Lose your head. Run through the disaster scenarios in the TV of your mind.

Panic.

If it’s helpful, go full panic and get it all out of your system with a good, old-fashioned freakout.

And then, do what you always do.

As a responsible citizen, a top professional, a pillar of our communities, do that thing that you always do in a time of crisis and concern.

Pull it together. Rally the team. Lead the way back to sanity.

You’re a leader in your community, your company, your church, and your family, and you’re always kind of called on to be the rock in uncertain times.

And every time, you’ve answered the call.

This time is going to be no different.

And maybe, just maybe, the cure for this awful epidemic isn’t quite so bad.

The facts are that the best medicine for preventing coronavirus is… staying at home and not seeing anybody for a month. If you do that, you just can’t get it.

Yes, yes, there are drawbacks to spending so much time with your loved ones. (But as I write this from the dining room table of my New York City apartment with three kids under 8 years old running around, I don’t want to hear too much complaining from those of you with backyards, blue skies, and a basement rec room.)

If you compare situations, though, suffering through Covid-19 Lockdown with home delivery of Chocolate ice cream to your door, the Godfather Trilogy or 24 seasons of The Bachelor available to stream, and the time suddenly available to read the Great American Novel you’ve always kind of been guilting yourself into reading, maybe this isn’t, like, as bad as World War I + the Spanish flu that your great-granddad had to live through.

Like most pandemics, this one will take a toll on the eldery. It will take a toll on the economy. And, for you, after you take care of family, friends, peers, and team members, you need to be aware that it can take a toll on your career.

In the last recession, many Ladders members were very surprised by how suddenly the downturn took their seemingly healthy employer — GM, Lehman, Chrysler, The Tribune — to an early grave.

They were caught unaware, unprepared, unexpectedly. And that lack of preparedness hurt them in the years following the financial crisis.

This time around, put whatever feelings of panic you might have to good use. Use them to spur yourself into action now.

Here are three suggestions on how to do it:

Pick 10 companies you’d work for in a pinch

Start by making a list of 10 companies you’d work if you had a chance — or if the chance was thrust upon you. Whether it’s Cisco, Edward Jones, Stryker, or any of the tens of thousands of companies on Ladders, write down your list of “alternatives in case of emergency.”

They should be reasonable targets that hire people like you to do work similar to what you do today.

Connect with professionals at those companies in your field

Use Ladders’ expert network to connect with professionals in your field and specialty that work at those companies. Make a connection, make a new contact, build a relationship for the future.

You’re not looking for a job, you’re just looking for a connection and conversation.

You might say, “I’m interested in what Acme is doing in decentralized computing – would love to chat and compare notes.”

You might say, “Been great seeing what your team is doing with research on oncology. Would love to learn more about your approaches to the field.”

You might say anything that a fellow professional would be open to hearing from a fellow expert in the field.

The important issue is to open the conversation, to create the dialogue now, before the next recession, plague, or crisis hits. Because, like insurance, once you need it, it’s too late.

Submit your resume for a Ladders review

You might be too busy with coronavirus contingency plans to take out your old resume and review it.

So let us do it for you.

Ladders’ Resume Reviewer will give you helpful tips and hints about improving your resume now. That way you can think over the next couple weeks about how you want to update it.

In a potential downturn, you don’t want to be the last one to the lifeboats — it’s important to get yourself prepared. A small thing like getting your resume updated now will save you a lot of headache should any future disaster befall your employer.

Well, I usually like to say have a great week, Meredith, but given the circumstances, how about:

Have a safe, healthy week for you and your loved ones.

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