Your “Plan B” Wardrobe

Five ways to plan for the unexpected

plan b wardrobeEarlier this month, a textile mill in Tennessee closed abruptly one day when the owner couldn’t make payroll. Hundreds of people were thrown out of work. In Colorado, a friend is waiting to see whether her husband will lose his job of 20 years because his company hit rough times and became vulnerable to a hostile takeover. Here in Delaware, several friends who work at Bank of America have already lost their jobs.

No doubt about it: the current financial climate is claiming unsuspecting victims at every turn. No one knows who could be next.

So how are YOU responding to this threat? Are you crossing your fingers and hoping for the best? Or are you putting together a “Plan B” just in case?

My recommendation is to make a “Plan B.” Because when you take time to consider all your options, it gives you more control. Why willingly trap yourself in a corner when, with a little forethought, you could have an escape route in place?

Now I realize that thinking about alternate plans is a challenge for some people. It smacks of change, and change is hard. Even THINKING about change can be stressful. So don’t think of “Plan B” as change. Think of it as “exploring your options” as you play a REALLY tough game of WHAT IF? with yourself:

What if you lose your job?
What if you have to relocate?
What if you have to change industries?

Does is make you nervous just thinking about it? It’s probably because you don’t have an alternate plan! Or, if you’re really happy where you’re at or if you’ve been there a long time, just the idea of having to look for something else is nerve-wracking. It’s like being part of a couple for years and years and then suddenly finding yourself single again. Just how in the heck do you “get back in the game”?

By being competitive and marketing yourself appropriately.

Here’s an image and wardrobe “Plan B” for these hard economic times:

  1. Update Your ResumeYou should update your resume as often as you go to the dentist for a check up: twice a year. If you keep up with it, it’s a five minute job twice a year that accurately reflects your most current skills. If you neglect it, it can take days or months to pull the info together, and you may forget half of what you do or know. If you haven’t looked at your resume in a while, now’s the time to do it.
  2. Get Interview AttireA well-fitting, single-breasted jacket in a dark color means business in countries all over the world. You may not wear a jacket to work ordinarily, but it’s almost always appropriate for interviews — and speaking engagements, and funerals. If you don’t own one, get one. It will serve you well for years to come for business and other important occasions.
  3. Update Your Hair and MakeupIf you haven’t reviewed your grooming habits in a long, l-o-n-g time, now’s the time to do it. Get current with your hair and makeup styles. No weird pearl eye shadows, no early 90’s poodle perms. I’ve found that there’s a direct correlation between hair styles and business skills, as those with outdated hair styles also tend to have outdated skills. If you want to be competitive, you need to update both.
  4. Know the Uniform for Each IndustryDoctors and bankers wear different types of clothes to work. So do lawyers and fashion magazine editors. If you’ve been in one industry for a long time and are looking at another, learn what’s appropriate for the new industry. Otherwise, your clothes may brand you as an “outsider” and you may have trouble getting a job. Just ask all those former real estate brokers and mortgage lenders who are now looking for work in other industries.
  5. Lose WeightIf you’ve put on some extra weight over the years, now’s a good time to take it off. While weight isn’t supposed to be a factor in the hiring process, the reality is that heavier people generally have more health issues than those of average size, which drives up employer health care costs. In a competitive marketplace with everything else being equal, the healthier person becomes the more cost-effective hiring choice.

So – has this got you thinking about some alternatives? I hope so. Even if you’re 100% sure that your livelihood won’t be affected by the current global economics, having an updated resume, current skills, and available interview clothes allows you to be ready at a moment’s notice if a fabulous opportunity knocks. You never know what tomorrow may bring.

As the old saying goes, “Hope for the best – but plan for the worst.”

About Diana Pemberton-Sikes

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of Wardrobe Magic, an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at Fashion For Real Women. Need some tips and tricks? Pick up a copy of Wardrobe Magic. Visit her site for more information.

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