10 Tips to Help Land on Your Feet
The reciprocal post-World War II loyalty bond between workers and employers has long since evaporated. Back then jobs were careers and workers enjoyed an implied assumption of continued employment. Businesses benefited because they could assume a stable, loyal workforce.
Technology — specifically the invention of digital technology — changed all that. The velocity of change digital technology and computers spawned imploded traditional loyalty models. Companies were forced to scramble to adapt to changing competitive landscapes. Since the quickest way to lower expenses is to cut headcount and the second is to outsource, reciprocal job loyalty flew out the window.
The new workplace reality is one of mutual wariness: companies grumble about workers’ lack of loyalty, and workers are reluctant to commit to an organization that may or may not keep them around. The drumbeats pound loudest among Gen Y Millenniums, who have watched their Boomer parents hurt from career rugs rudely pulled out beneath them.
If the phone suddenly rings and you are suddenly and unexpectedly let go — what should you do? Follow these guidelines.
- Do not panic. We were all looking for every job we ever got. Your next job will be the same. Losing a job is hardly the worst thing happens in life. If you’re living right, a job won’t even be in the top ten.
- Do not blame. Blame is pointless; and irrelevant to the situation because assigning blame burns hopeless, negative energy with zero power to change a thing. Leapfrog the temptation to blame. Blame doesn’t matter. Move on.
- Do not wallow. No “pity parties.” Instead, follow The 3-Day Rule. When something goes wrong — and losing a job qualifies — you are allowed to feel sorry for yourself for 3 days (maximum). But after 3 days, you are not allowed to mope. The 3-Day Rule is a life skill guideline and a very beautiful thing to help stay grounded between the ears.
- Accept the reality of your new current state. Consciously transition from the emotional blur of bad new to a more logical place. Logic cannot overlay emotion but you need to get there — the logical place — so coach yourself to transition from the emotional place to a pragmatic, logical perspective. It is here — the logical place — that your future begins.
- Believe in yourself. This point is listed fifth because there is an emotional journey that sudden setbacks like this force us to go through (steps 1-4 above). You must navigate the emotional stage to the logic-based acceptance stage before you can exhale, look around, shrug your shoulders, and give yourself a now-overdue pep talk. What happened is business. You and business are not the same.
- Reframe what occurred into a larger context. The job you had is now part of your experience archive, the need for which could have been minimized by many things: downsizing to cut expenses, outsourcing, corporate politics, a shift in company priorities or objectives, competitive repositioning, etc.
Aside for non-performance, most termination decisions are for reasons aside from the individual. Step back, evaluate the big picture, and be practical about what happened. The learning lesson is that every job is temporary — and so is every company. Stuff changes, typically for reasons beyond our ability to control those changes.
- Map out — on paper — your personal value proposition. What are the tangible talents you bring to a fresh opportunity, the knowledge and skills you possess that can aid a new organization? List them — but don’t embellish.
As important are your intangible traits that add workplace value. If you stay cool under pressure, hit deadliness without drama, are nimble and quick to adapt, a proactive learner, self-motivated, punctual, positive and upbeat — all of these things have value.
Write down both tangible and intangible assets. These form your personal value proposition and are building blocks for future interviews. But when do this exercise, don’t lie: If you say you are a hard worker but spend an hour of company time each day on Facebook or texting your friends — you aren’t a hard worker. You’re middle of the bell curve or worse.
- Spread the word: You are available and looking for a new opportunity. Don’t keep quiet about it. There is no stigma about looking for work — all of us, at one time or another (or more), have been in job-seeking mode. The modern hiring model is heavy on creation and referral. Communicate.
- Parlay this situation into a better one — personally, professionally, or both. Don’t automatically think down or laterally. Think up. Parlay your talents into a new challenge.
- Remember #5 again: Belief in yourself. If you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else?
Finding your next opportunity involves the navigation of two things, your mind and the marketplace.
Jobs these days are like emerging technologies — they come and they go. As the years roll by and you do several things, perspective allows us to look back and realize that sometimes it was a hidden blessing to get kicked out of a nest.
Yesterday is gone. The magic lies before us. Hike up your socks and go for it.
Lori Peterson saysNovember 12, 2013 at 11:00 pm
I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated your blogs recently. This one and several others have motivated me to do much more than have “something to think about” – they’ve motivated me to action. I was fortunate enough to hear your inspiring message at our offices in Walnut Creek, California a few weeks ago. I remember telling you that if your goal was to “give us something to think about”, you certainly nailed it. I’ve thoughtfully considered my goals and options and have decided to make a job change. Being a “good fit” is crucial! I’m a little nervous about jumping into the future, but convinced it’s the best possible future. As I move forward, I promise you I will honor the history you shared with us about your significant life event and use my own experiences to encourage others. The world needs your message. Thanks for giving me the nudge I needed!
Ocean Palmer saysNovember 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm
I cannot tell you how much your note means to me. This is one of the nicest things anyone has taken the time to write and send to me in a long, long time.
Never fear making a move. The world is FULL of people who never had the guts to change jobs unless forced into it. They tolerate being unhappy or unfulfilled, as if they have no right to live in a happier, better place. When you land where you are destined to go, make sure you write and let me know how life looks from there.
The day in Walnut Creek was an interesting one for me. The firm is immature in a lot of ways, which is understandable given the cumulative variables. Most of it was fixable and I thought I outlined a good plan to help make that happen. For whatever reason the firm picked another coach, so I assume he or she was deemed a better fit.
I have a bit of a reputation (or so I’m told) of being at times too direct and a bit of a “tough love” kind of coach. If that’s a sin I guess I’m guilty and also guess that maybe that comes from caring so much. I love my work, the people I meet, and always try to be more positive than negative. Hearing from you reinforces that sometimes I might lose a job but win something more important, which is the trust and confidence of a new friend.
Yesterday I started working on a blog entry about leadership styles, a topic germinating from my trip to Walnut Creek and thinking about how the firm is run. Hopefully the piece will get finished before I head out of town on Thursday.
The Hawaii story is part of me and I carry it around all the time. Don’t share it that often but for whatever reason brought it up at your meeting, probably because I’ll never forget its anniversary. Life’s too short to waste a day, and if it’s time to go — it’s time to go. Do so with excitement and anticipation, not nerves or worries.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me. You kindness has landed on me with great impact.