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10 Tips to Weather the Layoff Storm

It seems we have sauntered from The Great Resignation to The Great Layoff Expectation. There are so many announcements about the layoffs happening these days that employees are becoming jittery, wondering when it will be their time.

Of course, layoffs happen all the time, and they are difficult for those affected, but the disrespectful, and unconscionable ways in which they are happening these days is doubly hurtful. Employees being laid-off / fired over Zoom, email, text, is inhumane!

The reality is that none of us are insulated from layoffs. Although the news is usually shocking, layoffs don’t just happen. Invariably, there are subtle signs that things are amiss, and as companies make these critical business decisions, struggle to maintain a tighter rein on costs, and create “simpler nimbler” structures, job seekers can do their part to weather the layoff storm, if and when it comes.

  1. Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs in your company.

If you are becoming a bit jittery at work because things don’t seem right, and if the grapevine is quite active, conduct your own due diligence. Has the company been in the news lately? What for? Did it meet analysts’ expectations? Did it have a management shakeup? Are there dramatic fluctuations of its share price? This is not to suggest that you become paranoid, but you also don’t want to be the ostrich with its head in the sand. The answers to these questions will be a good indicator of where your company is heading and if you should jump ship.

  1. Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by the company.

Many employees do not take advantage of their company’s professional development offerings. These may be formal training where you attend classes outside of work, or free in-house courses offered as lunch-and-learn programs. Even if your company does not offer training, don’t forget the myriad of elearning programs available on the Internet, but also on LinkedIn Learning. Although your job may appear safe at the moment, it doesn’t mean you should stop learning.

  1. Be on the lookout for internal vacancies, and assess yourself to see if your skills match the requirements.

Speak with someone within that department to gather additional information about the position and then submit your application. In addition, climbing the career growth ladder might sometimes mean having to make a lateral career move, so be flexible.

  1. Find out if there are opportunities to job-shadow another employee or be cross-trained on a system.

Such initiatives will put you ahead of your competitor, or prepare you for your next career opportunity, whether within or outside the company.

  1. Arrange career conversations and informational interviews to keep abreast of industry developments.

Career conversations are similar to informational interviews but they are usually initiated by your manager. Don’t wait for that to happen. Be proactive. Arrange a meeting to discuss your career aspirations, growth and development. Informational interviews tend to be arranged with people outside your company. They allow you to learn more about a field you are interested in, or to keep current with trends in your industry. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive, so be alert to see if you can use any of the knowledge gained to enhance your current position.

  1. Start a journal of your special achievements, comments made by your supervisor or coworkers, and awards and recognitions received.

Review your performance appraisals. What did your supervisor say about you? What special projects did you work on, and what role did you play? Check your email for messages from vendors, coworkers, even your boss, that attest to your capabilities. All these notes will come in handy when you are ready to brush up your résumé, and articulate your successes in interviews.

  1. Develop and nurture a network of contacts, even if you’re not yet looking for a job.

Many people have the misconception that networking is “brown-nosing,” or it’s done only when one is job hunting. Those are myths. Networking is an ongoing process that takes time to grow, but when you nurture your network, it becomes very valuable when faced with a layoff, or when changing careers. As author Harvey MacKay said, you should “dig your well before you are thirsty”.

  1. Join professional associations, and contribute.

Some people join professional associations but do not participate; they do not volunteer for leadership positions. Their goal in joining the association is to beef up their resumes. Contributing allows you to learn new skills, meet new people and build credibility among your peers. Also, many organizations send their job postings to some of these associations before they hit the job boards. Demonstrating that you are an active member of a professional association will be a great addition to your résumé.

  1. Find a mentor, and ask for help.

Is there someone whom you admire in or outside your company? Contact that person and ask if he or she would be willing to be your mentor. Even if they cannot, you could still discuss your uncertainties or your career plans with them. It’s never a weakness to ask for help.

  1. Embrace change.

There are times when a layoff is just what you may need to propel you to action; to change careers; to do something different. Redirect your energy into something productive and don’t feel sorry for yourself. Take a long hard look at where you are in your career. Are you satisfied? Have you reached a plateau in the company? Is it time for a change?

Bottom Line

After all this, if you are still uncertain about your future, enlist the help of a career coach who can steer you in the right direction. Whatever you do, make proactive choices now, not reactive ones later.

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Article first published by the author on Job-Hunt.Org.

What Happened at Our Quarantine Networking Party

Unsplash

At the start of 2020, the beginning of a new year, and a new decade, many of us had had lofty plans, resolutions and goals, or whatever we chose to call them. A few months in, and COVID-19 has upended every facet of our lives. We are now reaching for some semblance of stability in a world of uncertainties. Some of the everyday things we once took for granted now have a deeper sense of purpose. Chief among these are the relationships between family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. There seems to be an urgency to connect, of course within the #StayatHome restrictions.

Last Saturday night I decided to host a “Quarantine Networking Party” via Zoom with a few women from my Let’s GROW community. We hadn’t gotten together since January 11, and I thought it would be a good idea to schedule a quick check-in. What I thought would’ve lasted an hour, took two hours.

We opened with an upbeat rendition of Bob Marley’s One Love: “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.” What is striking about this is, I wanted to begin the get-together with something fun and upbeat. It wasn’t until one of the said out loudly, “Everything is gonna be alright!” (another of Bob’s songs), that I realized we were actually going to get together, and whatever happens post-COVID19, everything is going to be alright.

We took a few minutes to introduce or re-introduce ourselves and discussed how the evening would proceed. We then entered the breakout rooms where the aim was to go beyond the customary “How are you doing?” question and really dig deeper. This idea came from a Quartz article written by Elizabeth Weingarten of Ideas42.org. (Credit goes to my friend and supporter Kasindra Maharaj who shared the resource with me.)

In the article Weingarten says, “In this challenging moment, let’s move beyond “how are you doing?” and get more serious about the questions we’re asking our colleagues, friends, and family…It’s a matter of keeping our relationships strong and solvent during what may be a long stretch of healthy spacing ahead of us.”

Asking the right questions

In line with the article, I preselected a few of the questions to do just that – move beyond “how are you doing?” Each person was to choose any of the questions and discuss them in their group. The seven below is from an original list of 20:

  1. How are you taking care of yourself today?
  2. What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?
  3. What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?
  4. What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?
  5. Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
  6. What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
  7. What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
  8. “What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?”

The Debrief

We regrouped for a debrief. We learned that someone in the group was recently laid off as a result of COVID-19, and two had been job hunting. Someone immediately shared a link to jobs in the GTA. The others of us are okay at this point. In view of the COVID-19 crisis, it was not surprising during the debriefing to hear comments such as:

  • Family is much more than “How are you?” Deeper conversations are taking place.
  • Nobody knows what the new normal will look like. It is scary in one respect, but exciting in another.
  • People seem to have become more collegial, and empathy and compassion are more evident. This is one thing we would want to see continue.
  • Remote work is here to stay. More employers are going to buy into the concept that remote work makes good business sense. Put another way, the toothpaste cannot be put back into the tube.
  • There is more communication between employers and employees, online meetings are more prevalent, and relationships overall seem to be much better.
  • Those deemed essential workers are garnering more respect. Not only those in health care, but train and bus operators, retail and grocery clerks, delivery drivers, etc. People are waking up to how important they are.
  • Some companies are demonstrating social responsibility by, not only keeping their staff pretty much intact, but also ensuring that PPEs get to some hard-to-reach northern communities.
  • Being laid off come with blessings, but the job search will continue
  • Virtual coffee chats and kitchen table bible study groups have been created.

The last question, “What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?”, was reserved for the main discussion during the get-together. It was to put legs to a book idea I have been mulling over for my 2020 Let’s GROW theme. It was a question we agreed to contemplate beyond the meeting, but it provided a segue into a brief introduction of Ikigaki.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that examines all areas of our lives that give us purpose and meaning. “Having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.”

The plan, moving forward, is to apply aspects of the Ikigai concept to our lives: What’s our passion and mission? What can we do in the space that we have? Who can we empower, inspire and motivate? What will our legacy look like, and how can we capture that legacy? Equally important, what are we learning, or what have we learned? How are we growing, or how have we grown?

That’s how we ended our quarantine party – with lots of food for thought, as we consider the book project and where it will take us. The coronavirus may have descended on us and created a lot of uncertainties, but all is not doom and gloom. Out of a crisis comes opportunities, and we need to seize the moment. That’s what the Let’s GROW 2020 project is going to do.

What Jobseekers and Career Changers Can Learn from Tiger Woods’ Spectacular Win

Photo credit: Masters Tournament

Other than my job as a career coach, I am a sports fanatic! I don’t play any sport, but ask me what’s going on and I can tell you. Right now it’s playoff season for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors, and am getting nervous.

The purpose of this article, however, is the big news about Tiger Woods’ win yesterday, and what job seekers and career changers can learn from it.

It was April 15, 2008, that he won his last major championship. Yesterday, almost 11 years to the day, he won his 5th Masters and added another green jacket. (It was 14 years since he had won his 4th Masters).

What did it take for him to make this great comeback after so many years of personal and professional struggles? His will to win. He said in an interview, “I feel I can win.” He ingrained it in his head that he could win, and went about doing all the little things it took to make it happen.

He didn’t spend time focusing on what his competitors were doing. His eagle-eyed focus was on where he was going and what was at the end – his goal of a fifth Masters championship and another green jacket.

What about you? Can you see yourself being so relentless with your job search or career? Do you see yourself bouncing back from so many failures and disappointments, or, are you getting ready to give up?

Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was rejected 27 times by publishers before getting his big break. He was ready to give up, and was planning to destroy his manuscript when he met his friend who had just become an editor at a publishing company. The rest is history!

Tiger said “This stuff is hard. I made a few mistakes at the British Open last year and it cost me a chance to win.” He said he had serious doubts if he could play well enough to win, but when it mattered most, he dug in and won. He told himself that despite not being as strong as in his prime years, he still had good hands and if he could put the pieces together, he could win, and he did.

Your struggles might not be like Woods, but am sure they are no less painful. You too, will have your doubts, you will make mistakes, but I encourage you today to:

  • Create a success plan and harness all the support you can get to see your dream come through.
  • Determine what your strengths are, and capitalize on them. Tiger relied more on his hands because his back was not as strong as before.
  • Be relentless in your pursuits. Remember that “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins”.
  • Never give up on your dream even if when it appears insurmountable.
  • Don’t jump off the train while it’s going through the dark tunnel; there’s light on the other side.

Tiger Woods didn’t give up. After a plethora of surgeries, personal failures, and disappointments, he fought his way back to the top. You can do it too. Ask yourself the question, “Why not me?”

Source: Tiger Completes His Historic Comeback

Changing Careers? Why Not Try Freelance Writing?

Planning a career change for the New Year, or are you going to accept your present situation as permanent? Author and Speaker, John Mason summed it nicely when he said,Don’t accept your present, temporary situation as your future, permanent situation. Despite your current circumstances, make up your mind to get on with your life and fulfill your divine purpose and calling.”

What is your divine purpose or calling? Could it be freelance writing? If it is, then my colleague Carol Tice has just opened her Writer’s Den for the last time this year and you are invited to look around then join if you think it’s a path you wish to take. The Den is opened until midnight December 13th. Click here for more details: The Writer’s Den.

I am not usually in the habit of recommending too many products or services, but as a member of the Den for the past several months, this is one I fully endorse. I can attest to the value of membership, including many resources to take one’s writing to the next level. Take a peek into the Writer’s Den, and see for yourself.

Monday Morning Rx: Don’t Sabotage Your Life with ‘BUTs’

How many times have you said to yourself:

  •  I would really like a promotion, BUT my boss is going to say ‘No’?
  • I would like to change careers, BUT I am too old, or I can’t be bothered?
  • I would like to start my own business, BUT I don’t have the time or the money, and it might just not work out?
  •  I would like to become a ____________, BUT my (friends, family, coworkers, spouse, kids) keep asking if I am crazy?”

How many of those questions resonate with you? These ‘BUTs’ are your fears that tell you that you don’t have the time, the money, the education, the nerve, or the skills to become who you should be. These ‘BUTs’ tell you to stay in your comfort zone, and not venture into the unknown, but if you continue to give in to these ‘BUTs’, a year from now you will still be wishing you had started today. (Karen Lamb)

Get rid of the ‘BUTs’ in your life and:

B – Become the person you were destined to be. Stop playing small.

U – Understand that obstacles are opportunities in disguise. Embrace them.

T – Try and try again. Don’t ever quit. Remember the little engine that said it could.

S – Stop engaging in negative self-talk. If you consistently have these conversations with yourself and allow the ‘buts’ to get in your way, you will never become who you were meant to be.

Today, ask yourself, What if I moved forward in spite of these ‘BUTs’? What if I take a chance?” You may be pleasantly surprised. Emerson said, Beware what you set your heart upon for it surely shall be yours. Set your heart on that dream, and see what happens to your life!