Whether you think you might be in danger of losing your job, or you’ve already been terminated, this blog may help you make the successful career transition to your next job. [Note: Be sure to check out these success stories with clients.]
What’s important to remember is that you can be great at your job and still lose it. The economy, changes in the industry, mergers, and acquisitions — all of these can affect your job. Even if you were fired because of something you did (or didn’t do), this moment doesn’t have to define your career.
In the first quarter of 2013, there was a total of 154,374 “separations,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It defines “separations” as employees “separated from the payroll” during a specified period. This includes employees who left voluntarily (quit), as well as layoffs and discharges, retirements, transfers, deaths, or separations due to employee disability. With people changing jobs an average of every five years (according to the BLS), it’s not unusual for some of those changes to come from layoffs or being fired.
Signals & Clues & Red Flags
Sometimes, there are signals when the loss of your job is imminent.
- Your company is bought or merged into another company.
- Duplication in job titles or functions within both companies being merged.
- Company loses a major client or the industry as a whole faces a crisis.
- An economic downturn may make you wonder if your job is safe.
- The company grapevine about rumors of layoffs can have a grain of truth.
- Anytime you get a new boss, beware.
Executives are closer to sources and knowledge of company layoffs and firings than the average employee. Don’t let that blindside you when it comes to your job. You may not have an inkling that there is trouble in the company, and you may be fired “out of the blue.” In hindsight, you realize you had started to be left out of key decisions or meetings. Or, some of your workload was shifted to others. But the changes were subtle.
Things you can do to prepare for layoff or firing
• Create or update your LinkedIn profile, but be careful about doing too much at once while you’re still employed. Don’t draw attention to yourself by populating your profile overnight and change the setting for notifications so that your network doesn’t notice when you update information on your profile.
• Update your résumé. Getting a head start on collecting the information for the résumé will help you be prepared in case you do get fired. It may also give you a 2-3 week head start on your colleagues who haven’t kept their career marketing documents updated.
• Collect the information you’ll need for your résumé while you still have access to your company records. (For example, dates/names of training, copies of performance evaluations, sales records, etc.). Make sure to keep this information on your personal computer at home, not at work.
• Check out your company’s employee handbook and/or your employment agreement to find out what’s owed to you. What is the company policy on accrued — but unused — benefits? Are you entitled to cash out unused vacation time, or is it “use it or lose it?” Also, review the section that outlines what constitutes “termination for cause.”
• Tighten your belt (financially speaking). Are there expenses you can cut out for the time being? Now is the time to start stockpiling an emergency fund for your living expenses, especially if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. Don’t wait until you actually lose your job to assess your financial situation.
You may want to start searching for a new job. It’s almost always easier to find a job when you have a job, so if you think your job really is in jeopardy, you might want to start looking for your next opportunity now.