Most everyone has a job loss at one time or another in their career.  Or, asked to resign, fired, laid off or restructured out of the organization.

job lossIt is inevitable.   It is usually not a happy day for the one losing their job. They worry about their mortgage, the monthly bills, their wife, their kids…  It is a very traumatic moment.

Now here is the sad part of this scenario: Most people are so poorly prepared for this moment that the transition to the next phase of their professional lives begins as a very bumpy journey.

Unfortunately, there is not much I can write here that will somehow magically save someone from losing your job.  The economy is changing. Organizations are restructuring or merging.  There are, however, some steps you can take NOW, to make the transition a little easier for you.

  1. Keep your resume up to date.  If you have not looked at it for a couple of years, you need to understand that the rules of the road for resumes is vastly different today than even three years ago.  I have written several posts on this.  Take a look.
  2. Do not keep your career management documents and contacts on your work computer unless, of course, you think digging a big hole for yourself is a good way to get started looking for your next job.  Keep it on your personal computer and BACK IT UP.  Bad things happen to PCs when you need them the most.
  3. Take some time to grieve.  Unless you were working for the King of Jerks and your departure was a blissful blessing for you and your family, most people are shocked and shaken.  A sense of loss, anger and frustration are all normal.  Take some time to grieve before you start interviewing.  I have seen some amazingly colossal interview meltdowns by people who only thought they had gotten over being fired or laid off.  The really good jobs are harder to get these days so do not waste an opportunity, or damage your brand, because you pushed ahead looking for that next job all the while thinking you had it together when you really didn’t.
  4. While there are a few serial job seekers out there, most people I know with successful career records, are NOT experts in today’s job search environment.  Know this, things have changed fairly dramatically in recent years.  If you have not been in the job market, you are in for a real surprise.  So, get professional advice.  Even if your former employer doesn’t offer it, push for outplacement services, someone who understands how to help you navigate the transition waters and prepare you for the journey ahead.  It is not that expensive.  Moreover, push to select your own consultant, someone you trust and relate to one on one.   Some major corporations have national contracts with outplacement mills.  Push back if you can.  Choose someone who knows your industry and who can teach you the career management skills that will serve you well for the rest of your career.  Even if your company does not provide this level of outplacement support, consider engaging a coach on your own.  If you pick the right person, you will never need outplacement support again.  The really good ones will teach you lessons for life, not just until the next time you need help.
  5. Keep a career journal.  Document your jobs, dates of employment, supervisors names, beginning and ending salary, notes on your performance reviews, and a description of your successes with quantifiable data to support those.  Everyone thinks they will remember the important accomplishments, the salient details however, if you interview as many people as I do, you will know that, sadly, they don’t.

The new year is not that far along.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to make some resolutions to improve your career management strategy, and your chances for finding a BETTER job if you need to.