Chances are you know a friend or family member who has lost their job. The reasons for being let go varies – mergers, position elimination, budget cuts, downsizing, poor employee performance, insubordination, breaking company policy, etc. Regardless of the reason, being let go from your employer can be a very embarrassing life experience. In this blog, I intend to focus on how to handle being let go for reasons such as downsizing, budget cuts, and mergers.
Before I do, I just want to touch on being let go due to poor employee performance or wrongdoing (breaking company policy). The best advice I have for anyone that has lost their job due to wrongdoing is “accept responsibility for you action, focus on learning from your mistake, and move on”! As you interact with prospective employers, keep your message focused on the experience being a life-learning lesson. The movie “War Room” would be a good movie to watch or refer to a friend if faced with being let go from their job due to wrongdoing.
Now, on to dealing with being let go for the other reasons that are for the most part beyond your control. Again, even if you have lost your lost your job for factors beyond your control, the experience can be very damaging to your ego and self-confidence. Below are a few tips to consider that will help you rise above your circumstances during this potentially low point in life.
• DO ask for a few letters of recommendation from select leaders within your former employer.
• DON’T allow yourself to slide into a 1 person pity party. This state of mind can be very damaging to your ability to move on. Try and talk with people that will help encourage you instead of those that will join in only tell you what you want to hear. Focus your energies immediately on preparing yourself for an even better opportunity. Regardless of your feelings towards your previous employer, DO NOT fall into a trap of bashing your previous employer during exchanges with prospective employers and friends. This could result in an infectious disease to your transition efforts.
• DO be open with your family! It’s very important to help provide your family with an ongoing update of your plans. This will help them be an encouraging force for you during the transition. Otherwise, they could be victims of embarrassment as well.
• DON’T waste too much time if severance package provided. It’s common for employers to provide severance packages during downsizing efforts following mergers or acquisitions. Severance packages vary, but most average 3-6 months of paid compensation. For mid-career professionals, it can take upwards of 6-9 months to land the next job.
• DO seek professional advice regarding your resume. Often times, your previous employer will offer some “off-boarding” or career transition services at no costs to you – use it! Otherwise, search online for resume and cover letter tips or seek the advice and help from a human resource professional friend.
If you or someone you know is employed now, but feeling insecure due to a recent merger or downsizing activities, here’s my advice. First, focus on doing your job to the best of your abilities. Second, be open with your supervisor regarding your feelings and maintain regular communication. Third, it might be worthwhile to update your resume and begin quietly building a backup or “insurance plan.” Such activities may include keeping an eye open for open positions within your industry sector using online employment communities like AgCareers.com. If you do not see your current employer advertising jobs on employment sites, there’s little to no risk in posting your resume to these sites.