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Out of a Job

Understanding, Coping, Surviving

Part 2 of 4

Currently Employed?

If currently employed, keep in mind we are all at risk. Make decisions now and take decisive action to bulletproof your career! If you are currently employed, consider the following factors:

Companies, firms, and institutions laying-off employees are no longer "the exceptions to the rule."

Our turbulent economy, the competitive business environment, and the need for employers to meet the economic expectations of shareholders or partners create an environment where companies are willing to turn to layoffs as a business solution. This mindset is not necessarily bad, so long as decision makers treat employees honestly and with dignity and respect. This is not a temporary trend—we must prepare to work within such a business environment throughout the remainder of our careers.

The business environment has changed—once rather stable, it is now turbulent and ambiguous. Certain capabilities allow you to thrive in both environments.

To thrive in any business environment, you must possess marketable skills. Such skills allow you to help an organization deliver on its value proposition, whether it involves the creation of a product or the delivery of a service. Possessing the right capabilities alone is not sufficient; you must also be self-motivated and self-confident.

The economy may improve. This does not mean layoffs will soon be a thing of the past.

It is easy (perhaps convenient) to assume that job cuts result only from declining sales or slumps in revenue. However, this is not the case, even an "up turn" in the economy may not significantly reduce the number of layoffs (many companies now use mergers as a primary growth strategy—due to the prevalence of redundant capabilities, mergers almost always require lay offs)!

Some believe that—regardless of what you are working on—you should always "begin with the end in mind." This perspective is invaluable when it comes to career planning.

Not only is such a perspective appropriate, it is absolutely critical! Such a viewpoint helps you recognize factors and events likely to cause you to ultimately consider a job change. It sensitizes you to conditions you must recognize when they initially begin to surface. Such a perspective allows you to assess conditions contributing to your desire to remain with an organization, and to be alert and responsive when such conditions begin to change.

Although you feel you might be happier working elsewhere, think things through before submitting your resignation.

Take some time to reflect. What is causing you to feel unhappy? For example, is it that you are unhappy with your career choice? If that is the case, you should investigate changing careers rather than simply resigning from your current position. After looking inward, speak with others (friends, colleagues, and career specialists such as recruiters and outplacement advisors) about the job market. You may find the timing is not right, that you are better off trying to make a bad situation more bearable than losing what you have. Is lack of job satisfaction behind your decision? If so, you may find that initiating a change in your job duties or building a better relationship with your supervisor and/or co-workers will make your professional life more satisfying. Such actions are less complicated and less stressful than making a job change.

Never "burn bridges" when resigning from a position.

Resist the temptation to speak your mind! Remember, what you say probably will be reported to management and noted in your employment file. Inappropriate comments will come back to haunt you. You may need former supervisors or managers to serve as a professional reference. Do not lose the option by unduly criticizing them. Your former supervisors and co-workers also may become valuable members of the personal network you will use to find another job.

Be thankful you have not been laid off. But if you were, you could handle it!

Many of our colleagues and friends who have been laid off say they initially felt overwhelmed and insufficiently prepared to handle the crisis. However, they eventually realized they would get through it, everything would work out, and that this too would pass. With the support of family and friends, you could handle being laid off, if such an event were to ever occur.

For more information on this topic:

Refer to Fired, Laid Off, Out of a Job: A Manual for Understanding, Coping and Surviving (ISBN 1-56720-634-4, the Greenwood Publishing Group, base price $49.95, available at your local bookstore or through www.greenwood.com or at 800.225.5800).

-B. Keith Simerson, Ed.D. is a Partner with Tradewinds Consulting: BKSimerson@TradewindsConsulting.com.

-Michael D. McCormick, JD is an attorney in private practice in Illinois: michaeldmccormick@hotmail.com.

© 2003 B. Keith Simerson and Michael D. McCormick. All rights reserved.