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You’ve been called into a meeting at work where the CEO outlines the budget forecast for the following year. It’s not good; the company needs to downsize in order to remain profitable and this means that people’s jobs are on the line. Your job is on the line. What should you do next? Where will you go? Why now and why you?
Layoff refers to a permanent termination of employment of an employee or (more commonly) a group of employees for economical (or business reasons), during a business slow down or when certain positions are no longer necessary. In the UK, this is usually referred to as redundancy.
In a poor economic climate, the threat of being laid off is experienced regularly by many workers. The emotional turmoil and stress that it causes is equalled only by divorce and bereavement as a negative life experience. Much of the stress is caused by feeling out of control and being powerless to influence your own fate. However, this need not be the case. With a positive mental attitude and approach, you can take charge of the situation and regain control of your life:
It helps to acknowledge the emotions you are feeling and write them down. Note down the feelings you have inside, the feelings you have towards your employer, your fears for the future and anything else that is eating away at you. Recognising the emotions you have is the first step towards channelling them in a more productive and useful way.
Be objective about the future and list what you want to do. Start by assessing your options and choices. What are the essential features of your new job? What are the desirable features? What do you want more or less of? Be methodical and list every point that you identify. Once you are clear on what you want, it makes it much easier to plan a course of action.
Make sure that your résumé is up to date and reflects your most recent experiences. It helps to have a generic résumé on file that can be quickly adapted and honed to the precise requirements of a specific job specification. An up to date résumé means you’ll be able to respond to job advertisements much more rapidly and efficiently.
Start looking through the advertisements for jobs that match your criteria. Search as widely as you can across newspapers, magazines, journals and the internet. Remember that jobs can often be advertised in several different publications, both locally and nationally. It helps to be systematic in your search, as an occasional cursory glance through a newspaper will not be enough to reveal all the jobs that are currently available. Using job search sites on the internet can speed things up enormously, but you still need to be thorough and determined to leave no stone unturned. Set aside a period of time during the week for job searching and stick to it.
Sign up to business contact websites such as LinkedIn and post your details to the worldwide web. Many of these websites provide a fantastic way of networking with colleagues and provide a forum that you can use to get noticed by potential employers. The wider your list of contacts, the more people are likely to view your profile and see your résumé.
Get back in touch with contacts that you’ve made throughout your career and let them know you’re actively searching for a new job. Word of mouth is still a tried and trusted method of advertising and it may pay dividends to build up your list of contacts.
It may be the case that you need a new set of skills to apply for the jobs available or those you are interested in. Be proactive and make it your mission to acquire these skills. Sure, you may have to make do with lower paid or unfulfilling work while you retrain but your focus should be on long term goals. Get specialist advice on the skills, qualities and qualifications that employers are looking for and start training yourself to match these requirements.
It may have been a long time since your last interview and you may be understandably nervous at the prospect of presenting yourself to prospective employers. Reduce your stress levels and regain your confidence by practising your interview technique. Arrange to have a mock interview with a trusted colleague or senior manager and ask them to give you an appraisal and feedback on your performance. Keep practising until the interview feels natural and you can give confident, fluent answers to difficult questions.
Inevitably you’re not going to be successful with every job you apply for. You may not receive an offer of an interview or you may be rejected following the interview. Although rejection like this hurts at the time, it can be turned into a positive tool for your future development. Take the blow on your chin, pick up the telephone and ask the employer for feedback on your application or interview. They will tell you where you went wrong, why you were rejected and what you can do to improve. It may be unpleasant to hear, but this sort of feedback provides useful knowledge and will help improve your performance next time.
Finding a new job takes time and will require a great deal of your time and patience. Be sure to remember there is a positive side though; by taking a proactive stance in the face of your lay-off, you are no longer a victim of circumstance. Take charge of your life and enjoy the freedom that comes from deciding your own destiny.
Getting laid off can be demoralizing, demotivating and a stressful experience for everyone, but please be aware that it is NOT about your abilities, because incompetent workers tend to get demoted or fired. Getting laid-off is quite different and if you can learn to see it as an unfortunate course of action, which undoubtedly will open new doors for you, you will be able to gather yourself and move forward.
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