"Laid off, terminated, fired, downsized, let-go"; no matter what the guise, many of us have heard those words spoken. If you have not, consider yourself fortunate because it is common in today's cyclical business environment. We've all seen the headlines, "Local Company Lays Off Workers".
It doesn't matter if you've been with the company two weeks or twenty years, the budget was cut, the position was eliminated, the department moved and your career focus has been altered.
How, if at all, can you adjust to this sudden change? The answer, as any good Scout Leader will tell you, is to be prepared. In today's marketplace, "I'll do this later" is now not an option. There are three areas of preparedness I'd like to stress: mental, physical, and financial. They are in that order intentionally, as one begets another.
Now more than ever, you can put your professional skills to work. Just as a new assignment may be given to us, we must challenge ourselves to be ready for career changes or adjustments at any given time. This is your new assignment, approach it as such.
- Don't become too complacent in your work environment. Continue to challenge
yourself; continue to survey your surroundings. What is happening in other
departments? What is happening in other companies? Where does your profession
seem to be going in today's market? Are there areas you can accentuate?
- Attend at least one educational class a year. This includes seminars,
networking groups and the local community college. The goal is to be infused
with new ideas and energy. Remember when you first began your job and you
witnessed archaic methodologies that no one seemed to notice? This is the fresh
set of eyes you want to bring back to your workplace.
- Those clients and vendors who are challenging? Patience, please. They may
just be your next employer or referral!
- Prepare yourself that you may be challenged with a different assignment at any given time.
- Is your resume updated? Now - today? Your resume should be reviewed every
six months and updated at least once a year. Even if it involves adding only one
line of text describing a new responsibility or adjusting adjectives for a
stronger delivery. Revise and have it ready. You will have many more credentials
to discuss in your performance reviews as well.
- Engage in a physical activity at least once a week. This can be as simple as walking the dog (which is also a perfect time to meditate and pray) or as regimented as a health club (another place to network). The benefits of physical activity cannot be discounted; you look healthy, you exert energy, and you tend to be less likely to overindulge.
- Remember when your financial consultant asked you to have a separate "emergency" savings account equal to your household net income of 3 months? Do it! If you never have to dip into it during your professional working career - reward yourself with a luxurious vacation later!
But now it has happened - the unexpected.
Mentally, you've just suffered an emotional shock and a kick in the self-esteem. It's hard not to take this personally. There are tens of thousands of people in this position right now as we speak. How we react will make the difference as to whether we are waiting weeks, months or years to obtain our next assignment. If you need to take a week to reflect and recover - even be irritated, allow yourself that. But do not take it further. Let's turn the corner.
- Lay out your game plan, time lines, and goals. And remember, these
are subject to change! Be kind to yourself.
- Network, Network, Network. If you didn't previously partake in a
networking group, find one now. Even meeting once a week will benefit you by
keeping you in a professional environment, requiring your professional attire,
and feeling professional.
Check your local paper for group listings, call the Chamber of Commerce, the local Job and Family Service Agency, ask a friend or surf the web. Near Columbus, Ohio there's a job networking group. You may have one in your area. It's an avenue to get advice and network with others seeking a different assignment. It's a way of getting your name and skills passed out to even more!
- Seek professional career counseling. If you feel less than confident
about your abilities at this time, get the advice of a professional. They can be
wonderful motivators and will find skill sets you overlooked! Additionally, most
of them have a HUGE network! Be sure to check with your previous employer, as
they may have contracted a firm already to assist their displaced workers
through this process.
- Find a reputable staffing agency to work with. If you don't know how
to do that, ask a Human Resources Professional. Most HR Professionals have one
or two favorites. Staffing agencies can assist in finding you not only permanent
placement, but temporary assignments in the interim. They can guide on you on
interviewing techniques and some offer free training on computer programs.
- Take some educational classes. These classes do not have to be in
your professional area. They can be a second language, classes on traveling
Europe, or abstract art. The focus is learning something new, exercising another
part of your brain, and making more contacts. Renew yourself. It's the perfect opportunity.
- Pray. Ironically, for some it's difficult to pray when we need to the most. We may feel depressed, resentful, and unworthy. But try and remember how healing it is to talk to a good friend. God won't spill any secrets and He will even give direction. If you can't pray ask others that will. When I say others I'm including spouse, children and close friends. Their prayers will guide you into positive thoughts, ideas and faith. It will also promote healthy communication and more love than you ever thought possible.
- Physically, you won't feel like doing anything. The best game plan
seems like going to the couch from the kitchen with a bag of chips; timeline -
now. Again, allow yourself this for one week. But get back in the groove. You
will want to feel and look your best when you are called into your next interview!
- Now is the time to work on things you've not had time for before and
that includes reducing expenses. When was the last time you obtained competitive
quotes on insurance, long distance, home and credit card loans, internet/cable
connections, medications, or personal care items? Something as simple as cutting
coupons and watching for sales could make a great difference. Make it a family endeavor!
- Health insurance. COBRA rates are extremely expensive. With the time you are given to decide whether or not to commit to COBRA, check with a local insurance agent and get recommendations on the possibilities of a private health plan.
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