Playing Like the Big Boys

Watch the market with corporate eyes. Look for growth sectors and aim to transfer your skills.

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Outside Voices - ''Working Girl'' aka Karen Burns
So, you've just been pink-slipped. Or you've still got a job but you're worried it's not for long. What do you do?

You play like the big boys.

When times get tough for Google and Motorola and, heck, even General Motors, the first thing they do is diversify. Why? Because they know that when one part of the economy is tanking, another part is just taking off. Sure, jobs are being eliminated or sent elsewhere. But at the same time, whole new categories of jobs are being created.

You find these jobs by diversifying. Some tips:

Think skills transfer. Much of what you already know how to do and like to do can be done in different industries.

Consider contract work. If a good company wants to try you out as a temp, give it a shot.

Watch business news. Know the trends—who's doing well, who's in trouble, who's starting a new venture.

Start right now. Work on your "diversification" every single day.

Make many contacts. It's a numbers game. Keep a lot of balls in the air and the inevitable rejections won't hurt so much.

Make them personal. Face-to-face contacts are hugely more effective than, say, posting your resume on job boards or answering blind want ads.

Get/stay smart. Take classes. Update certifications.

The trick is to find and go after the go-go parts of the economy. Every economy has them. Even this one. The big boys know this, and now you do, too.

Don't cry. Diversify.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009. She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com.