I reconnected with a colleague today who was “right-sized” by his employer after 15 years. He told me he’s currently an “in transition consultant”, a way to put food on the table while scrambling to find a new job.
In these uncertain times with high performers out of work, here are some less conventional ways to proceed.
Become conscious of your moodThe first step is simple, but not easy. Examine and reflect whether you’re feeling bitter about your “ex” and how you were unfairly treated after years of faithful service. While resentment is natural — and there are hundreds of friends who will fuel the evilness of The Dastardly Company — it’s essential to consciously put energy into accepting the situation.
Why … especially because feeling “victimized” makes you feel so “right” and them so “wrong”?
As human beings, we’re always communicating, and people can “hear” what we don’t say loudly. In other words, our bitterness will be evident to potential new employers, and that’s not something they find attractive. Employers are looking for resilient people with positive attitudes.
Consider that resentment is a choice we make (albeit unconsciously). That opens the possibility of our choosing acceptance, a counter-intuitive, but healthy alternative. To do so, we need to find a way to reframe the situation that allows us to move on to the future rather than getting stuck in the past. How? Come up with reasons why the business decision to let you go was smart. It’s not about right/wrong, but moving yourself through the change process.
Don’t automatically driftThe second step is to realize that we can design our future or drift into the future. Again, it’s our choice.
Let’s call my colleague “Fred”, and his project “Designing Fred”. Rather than drifting into applying for jobs similar to what he did previously (knee-jerk reaction), “designing” has two components “Reading Fred” and “Reading the World”. The former is getting to know yourself better and the second is increased knowledge on the world (business) since you will be uniting both.
Take a computer/pencil/paper and jot down answers to the following questions. Keep a journal so you can reflect, input, wait, sleep on it and input more. Allow yourself to float in the questions rather than look for “right” answers.
- What is the value that you bring to an organization? (This is not “resume speak”.)
- What are activities you love doing, even if they don’t add up to a “job”?
- For each, what about it gives you energy and joy?
- If you could design the worst job in the world for you, what would it be asking you to do?
- What are your talents? (Don’t be shy.)
- What were key moments for you in life? What did they offer you or what did you learn?
- What haven’t you done, but the thought sounds exciting? Why?
- What environment brings out the best (worst) in you?
Reading The World
Your access to “the world” is through perceptions of senior level people in various fields. Your goal is to engage them in provocative conversation, not to sell yourself as a possible candidate, but to learn insights and perspectives. Consciously get outside of your comfort zone industries. Questions to ask them might include
- As you look off to the future, what are the challenges you see organizations facing?
- What are the changes you see coming down the pipe?
- What is different about what you’re looking for now compared to a few years ago?
- What kinds of jobs/roles are becoming more (less) necessary?
- What are lessons you’ve learned from your customers/suppliers/shareholders?
- Where recently were you blindsided? What did you learn from that?
- What lessons have you learned through success and failure?
The resultsWhy are the questions valuable? These are the issues that will drive job creation. Consider that a job is the gap that exists between the world as it was and the world as it’s becoming. Why might an executive even engage with you? I believe that profound and extraordinary conversations are a gift to executives. These questions help them articulate thoughts never uttered but dancing in their heads.
So, if you were downsized out … consider that your Ideal Future might be something more invigorating than a repetition of the past.
- image courtesy of Svilen Milev