Whether we are let go, downsized, part of a strategic alignment, made redundant or just plain fired the result is pretty much the same. We don’t have a job anymore.
A thousand thoughts go through our minds as we clear our desk, give back company items to HR and sign the documents. That bastard Boss! What do I tell my wife, my family, my kids? When do I call my wife, or shall I tell her when she gets home? How do I explain being home to my neighbors? What funds have we got to allow me time to find something else? Why have I been treated like this? Why me? Where’s the nearest bar?
How we react and decide what to do can define our future. Our initial reaction is normally bitterness. We take it personally. After all, it didn’t happen to anyone else, did it?
We get enraged and go through all the things that we suffered that were so unfair by the company, by the boss and by our colleagues. We apportion blame. Before we know it, we’re caught in a downward spiral of regret and hate that prevents us from thinking objectively and positively about how we should move on. We get caught in the slipstream of the past and start wallowing in self pity.
I know, because I have had the misfortune of this to happen to me four times in my career. I got better at handling it each time, but not as much as I hoped I would. So what have I learned? It’s good to have a process to deal with such a setback, because that is how we should view it; as a temporary setback that allows us to take stock, take control and decide how best to proceed with our career.
Recently, a friend and client was in this position and I suggested the following to him. I told him that the first step is to get rid of all the angst and try to leave it behind, in order to focus on the positives and the future. I took him through these nine suggested steps.
As a previous boss rather graphically described, “Let’s get all the vomit out on the table.” As soon as possible, get a coffee, sit in a quiet place and divide a page into 3 columns and start listing things that capture your experiences as Good, Bad and Aspirational. In other words, what did you enjoy in your role and with the company? (Good) What did you dislike? (Bad) and what would you have changed had you been king for the day? (Aspirational).
Such thinking makes you boil down the essence of what was right and wrong with how you felt you were doing. It also surfaces what you were good and bad at and what you enjoyed. It allows you to get that hate stuff out in the bad column. Lastly, it helps you focus on the positive. What would you do to make things better, now and in the future?
Look at your list and identify the things you could have done better. What are the things you did really well and the things you didn’t like? Are you doing what you should be doing, or should you look at a different role? What can you learn from mistakes or action that you took?
This cleansing process helps put the hate and the negatives behind you. It allows you to start thinking about what you should be doing to seize the next opportunity and focus on what you can learn from what happened and be stronger moving forward.
Allow yourself a couple of days to get over things, to talk with close friends and family and then start scheduling your work. Your work is getting another job. So it’s a Project and you need to list all the things that it entails; such as preparing a standard e-mail, an opening for a telephone call, or a left message.
If you are not already, get into a fitness regime. There is nothing better to help focus the mind, maintain personal discipline and feel proud about yourself than feeling and looking in shape. When I had my first let-go experience, I started road running and ended up doing a half marathon.
Dust down that Resume. If it hasn’t been done professionally, consider having someone look at at it and give it a professional look and feel.
Check your LinkedIn page. If you are not on LinkedIn (really?) then make sure you are. Make sure the photo is professional, the information is up to date and make it easy for people to contact you. Be succinct and accurate about the Summary section. This is the most viewed area when people look at Profiles.
Go to your network and list all those people that could offer advice and access to their contacts as you start a search for your next exciting role. Look at ALL contacts, whether they be in LinkedIn, on Facebook, in Google Plus, in your address book and your e-mail contacts. Go through them all and identify the people you should mail and call.
According to a report from ABC News in 2012, 80% of jobs are landed through networking. Personal and online networking will normally get better results than CareerBuilder.com or other such sites.
Set realistic goals of the job you are after and the salary it should offer. Be specific about the industry and the role so you can be laser like and focused with your search.
Start mailing and calling your list.
These are hard times. Many people are chasing the same jobs. However, we need to move on as quickly as possible and put all the blame behind us. With the right attitude and preparation, you can find something you really want to do and move your life forward to that next exciting opportunity. Good luck!