People have been furloughed or let go at alarming rates these past few months. Never before has the job market experienced this type of shift. Most people out of work are in this situation through no fault of their own and no fault of their company’s. Covid-19 through an economical curve ball on everyone.
Many are left feeling a sense of deep loss and sometimes shame. But many of the most famous business successes we know are experienced job losses. Steve Jobs was famously fired from Apple, the company he co-founded, only to come back later to reinvent it. Oprah Winfrey was told she was unfit for television news. Ford didn’t want to hear Lee Iacocca’s ideas so he took them to Chrysler. The list of successful people who have turned a closed door into a whole new path is endless. The question is, how do you make sure you create a rebound that brings you to a new level of career success.
Embrace this as another chapter in your career. Those that are reeling from losing their jobs and finding themselves struggling to move forward have a hard time embracing that they are starting a new chapter. We all struggle with and resist change that we didn’t ask for. But the sooner we embrace the reality of what has occurred, the sooner we can process the emotional upheaval it has caused.
Be kind to yourself. Val Wright, author of, “Rapid Growth, Done Right: Lead, Influence and Innovate for Success,” says, “Getting fired or pushed out is nothing to be ashamed of. Do not disappear from view, do not retreat, it is precisely the time you want to wake up your network and discover the possibilities ahead of you.” Traditionally, we’ve been taught to view a job loss that we didn’t choose as a sign that we’ve done something wrong. But chances are you were great at your job. Most people out of work at the moment are not in this situation through fault of their own. Sitting in shame will only inhibit your capacity to get back out there and find the next opportunity.
Write the story from the perspective of a business owner not an employee. An employee is someone who lost their job. A business owner is someone who needs to expand their client list. Their primary client is currently not in need of their services, so they need to expand and diversify their client list. This keeps you in the driver’s seat of your approach. It makes the job market the terrain you’re navigating vs. the force that’s dictating whether you are employed.
Increase your trilingual power. Most of us have a preference for the ‘language’ we speak when we work. In her book, Val lays out how there is an ‘innovation trifecta’ when it comes to being successful in any job. Some speak to the creative aspects of work. This is common in departments like marketing or product development. Others speak fluent technical. Engineering and IT are common departments where this language is the norm. Finally, others speak the language of business and financial impact. This tends to be sales or accounting. However, to really set you up for success, you want to learn to package what you do in all three languages. Focusing less on the language you’re comfortable with and highlighting how your approach and services support all three aspects of a company can help you get the job and keep the job.
Learn to spot the shifts of employment security. The reality is, many of us couldn’t have seen this one coming. But losing a job can have some predictable phases if we know what to look for. Val shares the five phases that can be used to spot employment challenges.
- Phase 1 – Being obliviously satisfied. “This is common for many high performing individuals. They are so fully engaged with the work that they are actually dehydrating their network,” explains Val. This is why having a business owner’s mindset helps you stay in tune with your network. A business owner is always growing their ‘market reach’ vs. having all their eggs in one basket. Val recommends asking yourself, “Who in my network could and would hire me?”
- Phase 2 – Doubts start to form. This is when we start to sense that something has begun to shift. This could be something as tough as falling out of favor with key individuals or even your function not being as much of a priority as it once was.
- Phase 3 – An explosive incident occurs. Something happens that signifies your work or role is in jeopardy. This could show up as a budget cut, shift in leadership, new executive hires or a conflict that severely damages trust and reputation.
- Phase 4 – You are exited. Whether it’s a furlough, layoff or firing, you’re told the job you had is no longer available. The question is, were there opportunities to turn the tide during phases one through three. By the time we get to phase four, there’s very little chance of reversing decisions.
- Phase 5 – You are dealing with the aftermath. This can be the toughest if you didn’t see anything coming. However, if you actively spotted and worked through the above phases, you will have been doing the care and feeding of your network along the way. Ideally, you find yourself understanding and aligning with the decisions that were made that brought you to this point. Regardless, you spend little to no time in shock and are ready to make your next move.
“The less we attach to a title or company, the more agile we can be in our careers,” emphasizes Val. This mindset invites you to evaluate the worth of the work you provide vs. seeing any of those decisions as a marker of your worth as an individual. When you get clear about that, it becomes much easier to think strategically and take proactive action on your behalf.