It’s 2017. We have a reality television star in our White House, a former Governor on TV, and we’re debating about which bathroom we’re supposed to be using. So, don’t be in disbelief when the unthinkable happens. You were terminated. There’s nothing more life altering than losing your job. And, there are a number of ways this can happen:
- You, yourself, were terminated due to poor performance (or perceived poor performance).
- Your department was let go due to funding issues or restructuring.
- The company you work for has ceased to exist in the capacity in which you were hired (run out of Round A or B funding, gone out of business, has been purchased by a competitor, etc…)
So, what do you do? The first thing you’re going to probably tell me is that it depends on the circumstances. It does not. The circumstances should be disregarded. The only thing you need to worry about are your own career needs and finding your next step. There are three phases to finding your next role, each with three steps:
Phase One- Crisis Day
This should be the first set of tasks you complete, preferably on day one. Phases two and three are about setting yourself up for success. Phase one is about preventing failure.
1- Apply for Unemployment: This should be the first thing you do. Don’t wait until your severance runs out or your actual last day. The minute you find out you’ll be unemployed, even for one day, set up your profile. In NYS this is fairly easy. While you can’t actually receive unemployment until your unemployment date, you can be ready to hit the button that day.
2- Take care, Medically: You don’t know how long this period of unemployment will last. It’s time to face the reality of unemployment. It’s going to be difficult. If you have a few weeks until your unemployment date, schedule appointments with your general practitioner or gynecologist, your dentist, and/or any other specialists. Also, make it a point to refill prescriptions early, if you can. And, figure out what your best health care option will be, post termination. Does your insurance company have a COBRA option? If not, applying for medicaid might be your best bet.
3- Update your resume: Even if you’ve been updating your resume and planning your exit strategy, have another look. Your views may change now that you are actively looking. You may want to be more aggressive, highlight different areas, etc. And, you’ll definitely want to explain this gap in employment. Have a c-corporation? Try doing some consulting, that’s an easy way to explain the gap. Or, highlight the great projects you completed before you left.
Phase Two- Path Selection
Don’t panic! Here, we’re going to make use of our personal and professional networks to make sure we figure out the best path. Do you have a Professional Advisory Board? Read our blog article about creating yours! It’ll be coming up soon!
1- Think!: Don’t take immediate action to find a job. Odds are that the first 10 jobs you apply to out of desperation will be the wrong fit for you, anyway. Even if you land one, it’s not a long term solution. Select your mentors that you wish to disclose this information to (honestly, 2-3, maximum- don’t start spreading your termination around, it’s not the right look for your personal brand and people will make assumptions). Figure out what made you truly happy about your role, what did not. Place all of the positives into a category, remembering you cannot ignore the negatives (some of those will still be there). Think of some of the roles in your field that you would be great at. What kind of transferable skills do you bring to the table? Of course, if you’re perfectly happy in your role, just find one like it!
2- Test: Try to take some free online job assessments. If you don’t know where those are, send us a note and we can help! There are assessments in personality, skill sets, and work cultures. Some of these, like an Excel test, you can actually put on your resume or LinkedIn Profile. But, all of them will help you figure out who you are and what your needs are.
3- Broad Networking: Don’t look at your professional and personal network with the idea of finding a job. Just set up meetings with three people outside of your Professional Advisory Board. Try to set up drinks, a lunch, and a dinner. Find out what your friends and colleagues are up to. These may be people inside your current organization. That’s fine. But, they will be in a similar boat as you, so perhaps looking outside is best. Tell them what’s been going on with you, highlight your skills. You may mention that you’re transitioning, but there’s no need to disclose your termination.
Phase Three – Search
1- Start Applying: If your network is small and you’re an entry level employee (this is really a challenge and I urge you to create your network the minute you get to your first year of college), you may be subject to applying blindly on Linked In, Indeed, etc. Find some recruitment firms (like us!) to help make it easier for you.
2- Focused Networking: If you DO have a network (and I hope you do), tap them. Tell them you’re actively looking. Apply to jobs in their organization and let them know you’ve applied. OR, better, ask them for a cup of coffee and see if there’s an immediate or future need in their organization. Send personal Linked In messages, emails, and even letters.
3- Hone your Skills: Is there something that you can do that nobody else can? Or, at least, that you can do really well? Start doing it, even if it’s on a volunteer level. Join some non-profit organizations, consult, or take on small unpaid or paid projects. Blog about it, build your brand, and send that out to your friends and colleagues. You’ll start to notice their attitudes change.
Notice I said nothing about your relationship with your employer. Remember that this isn’t about them, it’s about you. Speaking ill of your employer will do nothing but paint you, poorly. All three of these phases (and their three steps each) are about YOU. What will YOU do to find your next role? Figure that out, and you’ll be in great shape. And, of course, we’re here to help. Contact us if you’re in a jam. We’re here to help!