Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Critical 48 Hours After Termination

That ordeal of the “termination meeting” is now behind you and while you still may be working out the details of your severance package, you’ve just entered Phase II in the process of moving toward your next career step.

The next 48 hours are critical. Follow these six guidelines and you will prevent many of the problems discussed in the New York Times by those who lost their jobs.

* These first few days are a time for planning and reflection. With few exceptions say nothing. Contacting your significant other about this event is probably the only communication you should make. Even if you anticipated this termination, you are bound to be in shock and your emotions raw. That means you are dealing from a position of weakness.

* While you may consult and involve an attorney, matters could worsen if you personally say anything that appears threatening or display what could be interpreted as behavior not befitting an executive. Stay cool and find a safe space to be.

* Determine how and when you are going to inform those who are emotionally and financially dependent on you. That includes your kids, who are suddenly going to see a lot more of you, and the rest of your immediate family. While you don’t need to provide an unduly optimistic spin, you should let them know the facts, communicate any upside associated with this event and maintain a positive demeanor. Remember, they will base their reactions on your behavior.

* List all your contacts (Your Network Is Not An Add-On ). Segment them into the groups you are going to have to deal with through the next several months. Think about how you will handle each. What you say early on will determine how the members of each segment perceive and treat you during this transition. Yes, this means sketching out a brief “speech” explaining what’s going on and often ending with the tag line “…and I’d like to get back to you once I’ve determined exactly what kind of help I could use.”. Rehearse it with those you trust. There’s no reason to rush out and say anything yet but when you are ready, it helps clear the air, makes it easier on others and let’s them know you’d welcome their help.

* Begin the concrete steps required for your search. Take some time to analyze your career. Inventory your skills and accomplishments. Determine what types of jobs and firms you are targeting. Overhaul or fine-tune your resume based on the needs of your prospective employers. Begin listing job sources, ranging from alumni groups to online sites. And start working on what the career experts call the “elevator speech” that succinctly says who you are, what you’ve done and what you’re looking for.

* Recognize that a job search is a full-time pursuit and these are only the first steps. Whether you complete them in the first 48 hours or not ... most important is that you plan first, then act.

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