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Career Breakdown--Or Opportunity?

Tuesday, 23 Sep 2008 | 10:49 AM ET

The turmoil that we are experiencing in the financial markets worldwide is creating havoc for many.

From a macro-perspective, we hear the horror stories of banks and companies that are being affected, but there are thousands of individual stories from people and families who have been adversely impacted: personal wealth depleted and career dreams shattered.

We have not seen the complete fallout from the market crisis yet. There will, no doubt, be more bank failures, consolidations and layoffs. This is a time to reflect, take inventory and prepare for the unknown. There are some very practical things that you can do to prepare, including:

Skills Assessment. Conduct an honest assessment of your skill set. Think about the things you have learned and determine new skills that you would like to learn. Develop a plan to gain exposure to these new skills and a way to learn them. Figure out how your current and new skills might be transferable to another industry. Find a way to articulate these new skills in interviews; and be able to write them down. Ultimately, they should be recorded on your updated resume.

    • Poll: Who Stands to Gain the Most With the Bailout?
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Renew Your Networks. The best time to network is when you really don't need anything. Learn to extend yourself to others and offer assistance to them when they need it. But even if you have not been networking and find yourself unemployed, reach out to as many people as you can and let them know of your predicament. You will be surprised at who and how many people will be willing to assist you. You also will be surprised at those who will not; do not take it personally.

Follow Your Passion. Sometimes unemployment can be a blessing in disguise.

More than five years ago after a confluence of circumstances, I took a severance package from my employer, The Home Depot. After taking some time off, I fully anticipated that I would seek employment with another large multinational firm as an HR director. In the interim, I decided to take time to do some soul-searching. This allowed me to step back and make hard decisions about how I could use my passion to make a living. I have been an independent HR consultant and leadership coach ever since. The whole process allowed me to find my vocation - not a job. I believe that everyone has a vocation or calling. If you follow your vision, your provision (money) will be there. It does not mean that the journey will be easy, but eventually it will all come together.

Whether you are unemployed already or you feel you might be headed in that direction, it is important to understand and/or update your skill set, renew your networks and follow your passion. This combination of things can only assist in catapulting you to new and higher ground. Don't let the financial market woes and their aftereffects be a setback - utilize this time as a chance to create bigger and better opportunities for you and your career.

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Wendell Bryant is the Principal of Bryant Solutions Group, LLC, a Human Resources Consulting firm that specializes in Executive Coaching, recruiting strategy, and organizational assessment. His corporate career included managerial and executive stints at The Procter & Gamble Company, General Mills, Inc, Ernst & Young LLP, and The Home Depot. He is a graduate of Morehouse College.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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