CareerQuest Newsletter
How To Make Your Job Recession-Resistant

January 2008
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

The fifth annual "Boost Your Career" Day, Five-Hour Marathon-Telethon, offered by CareerQuest as a public service, took place on Thursday, December 27, 2007.

CareerQuest's book, Career and Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career Is A Pathway To Your Soul!) is on target, and publication is expected by December 31, 2008. Several favorable pre-publication reviews have been received. Apparently, there is no comparable book in the market, and this book has a series of thought-provoking essays and musings. We will keep you posted.

This issue has an informative article, How To Make Your Job Recession-Resistant. We trust many of you will find it encouraging and useful in this recessionary economy. As usual, we actively solicit your comments and feedback. br>
Until we meet again through the magic of e-mail,

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.), PE
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach

How To Make Your Job Recession-Resistant  
(Special Focus on the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industry)

by Don Sutaria

The Present Situation

Does anyone remember the famous 'P' word in the 1967 movie, The Graduate? The advice being given to the young college graduate, Dustin Hoffman, is in one word, Plastics. The young man was told that if he wanted to succeed and make a lot of money, he should enter the field of plastics.

Guess what? A couple of years before that in 1965, when I was looking for my first job after obtaining a graduate degree in engineering and management, my mentor advised me that Pharmaceuticals was one of the most stable and well-paying industries. People are bound to get sick and one absolutely needs to buy medications. It is not a want or a luxury.

By and large, this axiom has been true for the past three or four decades, but the parameters are changing slowly but surely.

In recent times, not a day goes by when the pharmaceutical industry is not under fire. "The Nation's Medicine Chest" (The State of New Jersey), where a majority of pharmaceutical companies produce their products, have held employment at a plateau and in some cases the employment has even declined.

A blog called Pharmalot, managed by Ed Silverman, a prize-winning journalist with the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, keeps its finger on the pulse of the pharmaceutical industry. If you want to explore it, go to In December 2007, the planned job cuts by various companies are as follows:
  1. Pfizer - 10,000
  2. AstraZeneca - 7,600
  3. Bayer - 6,100
  4. Johnson & Johnson - 5,000
  5. Bristol-Myers Squibb - 4,300
  6. Novartis - 3,750
  7. Amgen - 2,600
  8. GlaxoSmithKline - 1,650
  9. King - 520
  10. Sepracor - 300
  11. PDL BioPharma - 250
  12. West Pharmaceutical - 250
  13. Abbott Laboratories - 200
  14. Merck - 7,000
  15. Wyeth - 5,000
  16. Sanofi-Aventis - 500
  17. Hoffmann-La Roche - Not available yet
  18. Eli Lilly - Not available yet
  19. Boehringer Ingelheim - Not available yet
  20. Genentech - Not available yet. P
Pharmaceutical companies have already cut an estimated 86,000 jobs during the four-year period from 2003 to 2006.

During career counseling and career coaching sessions, many of my clients have asked me as to how they can predict the future of their present jobs. Are they in harm's way and on the hit list? There are some telltale indicators and to be fair, most of us cannot see the forest through the trees. If you have ever been laid off, it is like being hit from behind by a Mack truck! Everyone sees it coming except the person being run over!

The Diagnostic Tests

May I ask you to answer the following seventeen (17) questions as honestly and undefensively as possible?
  1. Has the personal relationship with your immediate supervisor deteriorated during the past six months for any reason?
  2. Has you work performance diminished lately, regardless of the reasons?
  3. Is your industry currently going through a contraction cycle because of financial or technical reasons? (example: pharmaceutical/biotechnology, investment banking, Internet)
  4. Does the country's politics dictate the winds of change? (example: Democrats or Republicans in power)
  5. Is the competition for your company's products or services extremely acute, based on comments by sales people?
  6. Are strikes and benefits/wage settlements by your company casting a pall on its economic future? (example: airlines, automotive)
  7. Is there a new supervisor now between you and your previous boss?
  8. Are you, all of a sudden, being saddled with an exorbitant workload or very few assignments, to ensure your failure?
  9. Are you being moved to a smaller office or a cubicle?
  10. Are you receiving excessive criticism from all quarters, compared to previously, and your boss is not defending you as was done in the past?
  11. Is your company being acquired by or merged with another larger company?
  12. Are you are not being invited to important meetings and not receiving key reports?
  13. Has your supervisor dropped hints that your talents could be better utilized elsewhere?
  14. Have your contacts with clients diminished?
  15. Have you been frozen out of social functions?
  16. Was your title changed during the past three years, showing decreased responsibility?
  17. Did you not receive a substantial pay increase in the past year?
If you have answered at least ten questions in the affirmative, your job is highly vulnerable! Beware, the axeman cometh!

If Your Industry is Currently Going Through a Contraction Cycle...
...Get the Advice of a Good Career Counselor or Career Coach.
Potential Solutions

But it is not too late! You can become a turnaround specialist for your own good! You can at least try to take more positive steps to make your present job a little more recession-resistant.

These twenty-one (21) suggestions are not cast in stone but they have helped turn the stakes in people's favor and allowed them to hold on to their jobs by the skin of their teeth. It shows that you are a part of the team and that 'we are all in this together'.
  • Project a new enthusiastic attitude towards your job and keep them wondering and guessing. I don't mean in a phony way, but sincerely.
  • Try to come in a little earlier and leave a little later than usual. An extra half hour at the start and end of each working day is not unreasonable.
  • Show eagerness to take on some extra duties, responsibilities and projects.
  • Keep an up-to-date resume in your briefcase at all times and keep up with your networking contacts.
  • Don't neglect your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, financial, cultural, and educational life. If you slip now, it will be very difficult to reclaim it!
  • Get active in professional organizations, alumni and other special interest groups related to your work life.
  • Get into the fighting-fit mode by regularly screening jobs on the Internet and other print media.
  • Register with at least six executive recruiters and employment agencies.
  • Get the advice of a good career counselor or career coach.
  • Cut back on wants and luxuries, and develop a stringent budget for family needs...and stick to it!
  • Make sure your project priorities coincide with those of your boss.
  • Keep a "Hero File" of your accomplishments. If it does not help in the present job, at least it will serve as a springboard for your resume and interviews. Leave behind good documentation in your present company's files, highlighting your accomplishments.
  • Don't whine and criticize your boss or your company, especially around peers and subordinates.
  • If you have a good mentor, seek their advice.
  • Do such a good job that your boss will get promoted.
  • See if you can get transferred to another department, with your boss's help.
  • Keep on doing a good job...nay, better than a good job!
  • Remember that 90% of success is just showing up!
  • Continue to contribute, and learn, and grow relentlessly.
  • Develop a survivor mentality by never assuming that your job is safe.
  • Realize that job security comes from your inner strengths.
Develop a Survivor Mentality by Never Assuming that Your Job is Safe.

This is a wake-up call—a call to action! As the Boy Scouts say in their motto: Be Prepared! Failure to act at this critical juncture may lead to a career disaster.

In spite of all our human efforts, the ball may drop on our heads. What should we then do?

Some suggestions:
  • Don't go into unreasonable panic.
  • Don't make your boss your enemy.
  • Don't badmouth your company or your boss.
  • Don't be so proud that you fail to negotiate a good severance package.
  • Do play upon your boss's emotions to receive an equitable settlement.
  • Do project confidence in yourself.
  • Do remember that good things, like getting an even better job, take time.
  • Do apply to medium and small companies where your talents are needed.
(Editorial Comments: A complementary article: Big Pharmas - Quo Vadis (Wither Goest Thou)? can be found in CareerQuest's Newsletter Archive at

Don Sutaria is Founder and President of CareerQuest (formerly New Life Career Counseling), located in New York and New Jersey. CareerQuest is also mentioned in "What Color is Your Parachute?" Sutaria is a consultant to individuals and various corporations, offering executive coaching and career management services. He has developed unique methods for capturing jobs in the new millennium. He appeared on a Phil Donahue TV special on unorthodox methods of job hunting. Known as "Career Doctor Don", he has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Star-Ledger, The Union Leader, WorkingSmart, SmartMoney, Fortune, Money, and on WINS and WOR radio. He specializes in counseling of international professionals, Generation X (age 20-29), career changers, freelancers, consultants, mid-career executives and people over age 50. He really believes that your career is a pathway to your soul.

Mr. Sutaria has over forty years of diversified industrial and management experience, complemented by training in career development and hands-on experience in career advising. He is an international cross-cultural trainer. He has also served on committees of several organizations, and conducted courses, seminars and symposiums at Columbia University, New York University, Nyack College, Alliance Graduate School of Counseling, Rutgers, and Stevens Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Association of Career Professionals International and the Career Counselors Consortium.

Don earned his MS degree in Management from Kansas State University, an IE (Professional) degree in International Management and Personnel Relations from Columbia University, and obtained New York University's postgraduate Certificate in Adult Career Planning and Development.