A while back I suffered a set back… I was laid off. Lets be honest it felt more vicious that just being “laid off”, it was like being tossed into a bottomless pit and I had no idea how I was going to climb out again. If you have ever been laid off, fired or “asked to step down” you know exactly what I mean and all to often things like this come out of the blue. At least that is what happened in my case.
I ran the design team for a medium size firm that was owned by a much larger company. Our team had just finished an amazing shipping container project and several green roof designs. We were going strong and the team was feeling like we were on top of the world. Unbeknownst to us, during the course of our small successes, several poor investment decisions had been made by the larger company, which meant it had started to hemorrhage profit and to stem the flow, our small firm lost it’s funding.
As the project manager, I was the highest paid member of the team and somehow that translated into asking me to leave first. Over the course of the next few weeks, each of my team members were also let go. A few lucky ones were able to start looking for jobs before their notifications came up but that even that was of little comfort.
It felt as though we had been cut off at the knees. Not only had we been in mid celebration of our own success but many of out design team had refocused that energy into other parts of their lives. One had just bought his first house, two others had enrolled in classes to learn new design programs, skills which the hoped to apply to their work with our company. For me personally, I was left thinking of my wife and son for whom I am the soul financial earner. How were we going make ends meet?
Well we did! In fact things are actually better off now then they were before things fell apart. Here are some tips for overcoming the difficulties of losing your job.
Access the situation:
The first thing you should do is take a good look at what is happening, what needs to be taken care of immediately and what can be put on the back burner. Not only do you need to deal with the bills that are due at the end of the month but you also need to take into account other aspects of your life. You may need to update your résumé or a portfolio if you haven’t done so recently and you will need time to do that.
I am a big fan of making to do lists. It may seem like a small thing but putting everything that needs to be done down on paper will really give you a clear idea of what needs to be done. I have a check-list that goes with me everywhere, it’s clipped to the front of my workbook that I carry with me at all times, so I see it every day, all the time. That is a constant reminder to stay on task because there are things that need to be done. My to do list is also ordered by what is most important at the top of the page, so see them first.
Reorganize your finances:
Things are probably not as bad as they seem. First, take a good look at your life style and think, how can you cut back on your spending. You may have to opt for patched jeans instead of buy new ones (but hey that just shows their history) and it may be necessary to slim down your holiday budget. It may also surprise you but food expenditure is a huge factor in family finances, so keep an eye out for deals at the grocery store and cook at home more often. It will make a huge difference. You may also think about planting a window box or hay bail garden. Both are inexpensive ways to grow a lot of your own vegetables.
Finding a new job:
Once you know exactly were your stand, finding employment will be at the top of your to do list. Hopefully you keep your résumé and/or CV up to date. If you haven’t, now is the time to start doing so. Take and evening, sit down and make sure your documents shine. There are loads of websites to help with this and it’s always a good idea to see if there are any new trends or styles that are popular for curtain kinds of jobs. Also, take the time to learn how to write a decent cover letter. It’s a skill that everyone should have in their job hunting arsenal.
Be aware that you may not be able to find the job you want right away. It may take some time and if you are not financially able to wait, you may want to accept a position that will help ease the financial burden while still allowing you to look for other jobs. You may end up finding a permanent place with the new company once they see how qualified you are.
Use your resources:
Your network of friends and coworker are probably one of the best resources you have. Reach out to them and see if they are aware of any opportunities. These are also the people that can help provide letters of recommendations and references that you will need as you start applying for new jobs.
Also look to the companies you have worked parallel with. There may be opportunities much closer that you expect. If you were an accountant and have been handling the payroll for a larger company, you very well may be able to apply to cover a similar job within that company and help the keep their finances in house.
Keep your options open. Many skills can be carried over to different kinds of careers and it may be a good time to move in a new direction. Sales and management experience can cross over to a wide variety of vocations. If you are a certified electrician, you can probably also do solar cell instillations. If you have a background in greenhouses or just have a green thumb, why not look at green wall instillations (a growing industry that Foreign languages are another skill that are rarely put to use they way they could be. Don’t turn away from the idea of doing something new or different from what you were doing before.
Keep moving forward:
Keep applying for jobs even if you feel like you have found one you like. It never hurts to keep an open mind about your employment. Going to an interview doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to leave the job you are at, but you also never know what kind of offer they may make. Also, this keeps you up to speed with pay changes and hiring trends that change constantly. If something unexpected were to happen with the new super cool job you just started, at least you would have some other options close at hand.
Stay focused, set and work towards specific goals and keep your options open.
Those are just some words of wisdom form a former “Green Innovation Project Manager” who is now an “Overseas Quality Control Agent”