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New Directions

By Jim Ward

New Directions
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I’m letting you go…

How many times have you heard these words spoken throughout the halls of corporate America? Being “fired” is a painful experience and can destroy one’s identity. It can also lead to self-doubt and depression. In fact, it has been said that three of the most traumatic separations in our lives can stem from divorce, death of a love one and being fired from your job. However, in today’s economy loosing your job for any reason is much more commonplace; many people experience being let go. It does not carry the stigma it once did. C-level executives and professionals at all levels loose their jobs.  With some pre-planning loosing one’s job does not need to be as traumatic. There are ways we can ease the pain of being terminated and it starts with you the individual.

Recently, I was reading an article that quoted Jessie Jackson: “Champions have to play with pain. You can’t walk off the field because your’re hurt.” Similarly, we can’t just quit life and working because we are fired.

Some thoughts to consider:

  1. Be Prepared – Don’t get caught blindsided. Pay attention to the organizational signals/feedback being sent to you.  Use the information as an opportunity to improve. Don’t rely on others to take control of your career. In one of my recent postings, I discussed the concept of the self-managed career, where you, the individual, are in change of your career, not the organization.  In my corporate life, I would always look at my employment status with an organization as a 1-year employment agreement, renewed annually. Each year, I would ask myself several key questions: did I like the individuals I was working with/for; was I continuing to learn and progress professionally; did the role continue to keep pace with my long-term career goals, etc? Positive responses to these questions would lead me to commit to another year. Most importantly, always have a back-up plan in case things go awry.
  2. Always upgrade your skills & experience. As professionals we must be continuous learners, acquiring new skills and tools to help us progress in our career. Volunteer for a new project at work, something which gets you out of your comfort zone. Most importantly, keep abreast with what’s new in your field and use that to your advantage.
  3. Network, network, network. This is probably self-explanatory but often undervalued by all of us. The contacts in your network are your number one best asset. Learning to use them effectively is a very powerful tool in managing your career. Speaking at industry conferences, using Linked-In, taking a leadership role in your professional association, etc will expand your network exponentially. Individuals you know and socialize with, both within your industry and within the community-at-large, are invaluable to you as you progress through your career. Someone once said, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts!”  Perhaps an old cynical adage but it does bear some truth when managing the complexities of a 30-year career.

Until next time…

Jim

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