LOSING your job is a tough situation to face, especially when it has nothing to do with your performance.

But to put things in perspective, it is never the end of the world.

Certainly, a job gives you a livelihood and a salary to pay for your needs. It often defines who you are and gives you a sense of self-esteem.

That is why it helps to remind yourself that there are other priorities in your life too, for example, family and friends, your hobbies and special interests, perhaps even community work.

I have coached enough executives who have lost their jobs over the past 18 years to know that there is usually a positive side to it. The trouble is, most people can only see this on hindsight.

In this article, I would like to share how June — a recent client of mine whom I worked with on an outplacement programme — coped with losing her job after 18 years with her employer, and successfully moved on with her life.

 

June’s story

In the mid-1990s, June left a promising job with an American multinational corporation in Singapore to relocate with her husband and young child to the United States.

She soon landed a new job in communications. Things were looking up until she was involved in a car crash one year after joining the company and within a week of starting a second job with her American employer.

The accident fractured her spine and left her in a wheelchair. Post-rehabilitation, she was eased back into working life with strong support from her supervisor.

Despite her physical setback, June performed well enough and eventually was responsible for two global roles based out of Singapore in employee communication and HR communication. 

Her career went smoothly for almost two decades until a few days before Christmas 2012, when she suffered another setback in her life, finding out that she would lose her job due to corporate changes.

Instead of giving in to despair, she focused on doing five key things:

 

1

 Reaching out

She called all her contacts — family, friends and business contacts — to let them know that she was looking for a new job.

Some people feel a loss of face when they are retrenched. But retrenchment is nothing to be embarrassed about.

No matter how good you are at what you do and how much you have contributed to your employer, you can still lose your job due to business reasons.

June knew she was a strong performer and was regularly awarded company shares as a “stay-on” incentive.

So, when she was told that her role was being made redundant, she knew it was not because of under-performance and accepted it simply as time to move on.

 

2

 Stepping out

She made it a point to meet new people and grow her network.

She also advocates taking some time off to cry, reflect and accept the changes, but cautions against withdrawing into your shell and shying away from meeting new people.

Her former employer engaged an outplacement consultant to support her in her career transition and she was introduced to the consultant’s wide network of contacts in the headhunting industry, as well as potential hiring managers.

She eagerly looked forward to each of these meetings with an open mind. 

She was coached on how to respond to the inevitable question: “Why did you leave your employer after 18 years?”

 

3

 Exploring new ideas

She took up her outplacement consultant’s suggestion to establish her own business in addition to searching for another job opportunity.

She now runs her own public relations and marketing communications consultancy. In less than two years, she has built up a regular clientele and gets to work on a wide range of projects that have enriched her experience.

 

4

 Staying engaged and
keeping up the learning

She subscribed to professional newsletters to ensure that she remained plugged in to new ideas about her industry.

She also enrolled in a wide range of courses to upgrade and learn new skills.

 

5

 Staying healthy

She kept herself healthy, physically and mentally.

She advises people to exercise more, watch what they eat and keep their minds active.

Keep up with your social life and do things that make you feel good, especially activities that give you a sense that you are moving forward with your life.

 

Article by Paul Heng, founder/managing director and executive coach of NeXT Career Consulting Group, Asia. For more information, visit www.nextcareer.net