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Hope. It is the lifeblood of our dreams.  It starts in our brain and settles in our heart.  Our lives are lived in phases, each beginning with hope.

We hope for true and lasting love.  We hope for a good education that we hope will land us a great job that will launch a career that is professionally fulfilling and financially rewarding.

Hope is what drives us but it is also what can derail us when a prolonged recession
leads to the loss of a job.  This is a phase of life that most executives hope to avoid.

“Hope is not a good career management strategy,” says career coach Craig Honaman of
H&H Consulting Partners in Atlanta.  Honaman, who has assisted many executives navigate the dicey waters of transitioning to a new job or new career, advises senior leaders that they should always be prepared for a career derailment by having the necessary resources available: a current resume, a robust network of professional contacts, and a strong career brand.

Hoping you can find a new job within three to six months is unrealistic in this new
economy and ousted executives without a strong network of professional contacts
could face a more prolonged period of unemployment.  Yet, the average senior executive says that their professional network consists of between 10 and 20 colleagues, which are
not nearly large enough.  Many executives agree that they should have more but argue that they have little time to build or sustain such relationships given the demands of their jobs and their commitments to family.  Unfortunately, when the layoff or termination occurs, it is too late to build a network.

What many executives may not realize is that search firms handle only 30 to 35 percent of
available executive searches.  Most are conducted by the organizations themselves.  Relying only on a search firm to open doors will substantially limit the number of
opportunities to be considered.  It is the network of peers, former bosses, advisors and vendors who can produce leads, helpful market intelligence or, perhaps, even generate the next job.  The vast majority of executives that I have interviewed over the past 20 years admitted that their job search was made more difficult, was more frustrating, and lasted longer than they ever imagined because they lacked a vibrant network of contacts. 

I would like to think that when executives recognize the value of ongoing networking a few might become born-again converts and then, once they find a new position, begin
to make the time for this important career investment.  Surprisingly, most do not. 

I guess they live in hope.

© 2010 John Gregory Self