Thursday, May 15, 2008

Career Blindsiding At Its Best

What’s an executive to do? Six months after landing a top job at a new company, you’re fired.

It’s a Wall Street firm, suddenly bleeding billions and laying off thousands. But you just finished putting your family photos on the desk. To make matters worse, your last employer is in good shape … no layoffs there.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too real and repeated all too frequently.

And one of the many examples of why it is always best to negotiate an exit package as part of your employment agreement, whenever joining a new company.

For executives, losing a job is rapidly becoming a predictable part of life in corporate America. Depending on age and level, the likelihood of your getting fired during the course of your career is high and growing higher everyday.

Changes in top management, market conditions, company performance, dollar valuation and a host of other variables all conspire to affect the security of your position.

It’s all the more reason why you should insist on an exit package going in, rather then try and negotiate one going out.

So what do you do when after recently joining a firm, you’re informed that your job has been eliminated and told it is best if you leave immediately.

Well, if you’ve already negotiated a separation agreement, do nothing!

Except for perhaps your significant other, make no phone calls, write no emails and resist the temptation to immediately contact your best buds or that recruiter you’ve known for years. This is a time for reflection and planning not immediate action or reaction.

Second, acknowledge your emotions.

If you’re like most people, you’ll go through a series of predictable steps that will start with shock, denial and then anger. Losing a job is high on the stress scale and no amount of false bravado will change that.

Three, don’t muddy the water.

The rule of thumb about active job hunting is that you’re hottest right out of the box and, from early on in your campaign, that curve starts heading downward. That’s not all that surprising because in the early stages of your campaign, you’ll tap into your reservoir of contacts, often producing amazing results.

But that only applies when you’ve carefully thought through who you’re going to contact, what you’re going to say and exactly what help you need. So, don’t run and call everyone you know until you’ve crafted a job-finding plan and understand how to execute it.

While the injustice of losing a job so early in one’s tenure can be maddening, the upside is that no one will question your performance if your exit is part of a larger downsizing.

And besides, that attractive severance payment you received will go a long way towards easing your pain.

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