Might lose your job?

Might lose your job?

The fear of losing your job, the process of doing so, the effort and diligence required to get another one – all these add up to a fair old strain on you and your family. But they can be coped with. I speak from personal experience and from dealing with thousands of people who have been through this trauma and come out the other side, some a little scarred, a few with a broken bone, but mostly whole, fighting fit and ready for the new job.

If you have grounds to think you are going to lose your job, get busy and prepare (a) to handle it emotionally if / when it happens (b) to work from home or somewhere you can find peace, the internet and a good cup of coffee. The emotional shock is similar to that which you get when someone close to you dies. However prepared you are, it is a shock. Losing your job is not the end of life for you. It can be a new start. But you must purge the shock first. For a half-day – just one half-day – go alone to an isolated, soundproof place and cry, scream, vent, rage, swear. You have probably been treated unjustly. Let the Gods know.

But only one half-day. From the other half of the day onwards you must be your normal, cool self. You will still be going through the shock stage but moving quickly on to disbelief. That develops as rage, followed by despair. These are perfectly normal effects of a job loss. A kind man called John Tyzac gave me half a day of his time to help me when I lost my job. He told me that I would vacillate between wondering which listed MNC I should become CEO of and whether I could hold a road drill steady for a few hours to dig up the highway. He was right, I did. Vacillate, that is.

It was, at times, a terrifying feeling. I learned to live with it. You should do so too. This will be greatly helped if you assert some discipline on yourself to substitute for the order you have been used to at work. I stopped drinking alcohol altogether for the duration of job hunting. Exercise is a must. It clears the brain as well as the stomach. Eat sparingly, you don’t want a foggy mind half the day. Avoid all except essential expenditure. It may not be strictly necessary, but this is a great time to live frugally and behave as many others have to, all their lives.

You will need your mentor(s) now. You have an informal mentor or two, I am sure, to whom you turn for guidance on contacts, opportunities and networking. You may like to have a professional mentor – well I would say that, wouldn’t I? But I do think the process of finding your purpose – the first stage of deciding what you will do – is best helped by those who have done this for others many times. And people have different paces. Some spoil their chances by taking the whole thing at too leisurely a speed. You have to be swift, agile and determined to get the next job. Professional help will steer you to the best use of your contacts and those you are going to make for the first time. It will also help you get your communications right – some of the letters and resumes I‘ve seen are for a comedy show first, the bin, second.

Purpose must drive your search. “Anything that seems reasonable and is well paid” is a mantra for drift. That’s great fun when you are twenty, sad when you are fifty. But we all have the right to live as we like, provided it doesn’t hurt others. What matters is that you have chosen your path with thought for the future and an understanding of what is going to make you happy. The dream of a yacht in the Mediterranean with flowing champagne and twenty nubile young ladies as guests wears very thin after the third day. Well, I’m told so, anway.

Most job interviews, even with very senior people, are ‘yes / no’ quizzes. The agenda is the past – the resume. The discussion is controlled by the interviewer(s). Why? Conforming to that doesn’t get you the job that you want. Curious, vivacious engagement is what makes an interview work, however grand you are. That is achieved by thoughtful, intelligent questions resulting in a two way conversation. It is through that engagement that people get the best jobs and end up being promoted to the top.

In fact the grander you already are, the humbler you must be. Approach the interview in the learning mode and your potential employer will be happy to see how you might fit into his business, even if not for the job he had in mind.

The people who get jobs, at all levels, are those who show initiative and interest. That comes from discipline and perseverance.

May you have the knowledge you need, the discipline you are capable of and the courage of a human to break the rules of norm. These three weapons equip you to get what you want to do.

When you do that you do it well.

I know you will.