One day, you are called down to a conference room with 15 of your co-workers. You sit outside the room, waiting – dreading – your turn. But eventually, your name is called. The HR manager and your boss’ boss sit at one end of a very long table, and you take a seat at the other end. The walls seem especially cold and sterile.
The HR manager speaks: “The past several quarters have been very challenging for us. In the analysis of our operations, it has been decided to downsize. We regret to inform you that you will be laid off…” You hear nothing past that point, save for the buzzing in your ears and your own jumbled thoughts:
“How can they do this to me? I’ve been doing such a good job!”
“Abby is just starting her senior year in high school. What are we going to do with college coming up?”
“The dentist recently referred Justin to an orthodontist for braces. There’s no way we can afford that now!”
“Why is this happening?”
“What is my family going to say?”
According to a study published in Occupational Medicine, unemployment is among the top 10 most stressful life events to experience. That’s not really a big surprise when you consider the impact that a job loss can have on one’s sense of self-worth.
One of the many sources of anxiety related to being laid off is having to share the news with the family. There’s the worry of losing face with your significant other and kids, of not being supported by your loved ones, and of being blamed for the reduction in the household standard of living if another position is not found quickly.
A natural tendency at a time like this is to shut out the entire world, including those closest to you. Unfortunately, keeping your family at arms’ length will make the situation worse, not better. You need the support they have to give, now more than ever.
Here are some ways to bring your loved ones close when experiencing a job loss:
1. Talk with your significant other often. Ideally, your beloved would be the first person you would talk to about this news, even before breaking the news to the rest of the family. And then, even after you have shared the news with everyone, still reconnect regularly with that special person in your life to touch base and to get that all-important support.
2. If you have children, share in an age-appropriate manner. No matter their age, kids do pick up on shifts in the household – when someone who has been previously gone during the day is now around more, the stressful undertones that accompany a job loss, etc.
To keep the kids in the dark about what is happening can actually cause more anxiety for them, so it is better to share with children in a way that will fit with their age. MoneyWatch has an excellent breakdown by age for what information to share and how to share it.
3. Consider including extended family in the updates. I know the thought of telling immediate family about the job loss is bad enough; adding extended family to it seems impossible! However, the benefits of telling siblings, parents, and cousins – which can include an expansion of your network and additional support for you, your significant other, and your kids – make this a wise option.
4. Have fun! The last thing you may want to do when you are laid off is to whoop it up, but staying negative not only will strain your relationships with family members, it will detrimentally impact your job hunt efforts.
Look around for free or low-cost activities in your community, such as a visit to a local zoo or hiking on area nature paths. Taking a break from an intense job search and reconnecting with your family on a social outing strengthens the bonds with loved ones and keeps you from getting burnt out as you look for new employment.
Every job, class project or volunteer work assignment teaches us something. While the position itself might not be something that you’d like to emphasize on your resume or in your work history (such as that stint you worked in fast food), it can still be a valuable experience in terms of transferable skills you gained at the opportunity.
Transferable skills are the skills you’ve gathered through previous experience (jobs, hobbies, volunteer work, etc.) that can be used in your next job or new career.
Determining transferable skills
Take a look at the previous jobs you’ve held. Think about what skills you used to successfully complete tasks and projects during your time working there. Even if it was a retail position or babysitting gig, there are still skills that can easily transfer over to your ideal job. Here are some examples of skills you might already have that you can emphasize to land a future job:
- Customer service
- Public speaking
- Written communication
- Technology/computer programs
- Basic math
- Handling money
Emphasizing transferrable skills
Once you’ve identified these transferable skills you already have, you need to share these skills with potential employers or clients.
You can do so in your resume by adding the skills to your skills section or by including these previous work experiences (if you don’t have others that are more relevant to your current field) along with the skills you utilized and learned.
You can also include these skills in your online profiles, either in the skills section, your biography or online resume portion.
Your cover letter is a great way to tie in your transferable skills to the ideal position you’re seeking. Explain to a hiring manager or recruiter how these skills will benefit you on the job you’re applying for and highlight those skills you’ve acquired that make you a great candidate for the open position.
What transferable skills did you gain at previous jobs, volunteer positions or other opportunities? How do those play a role in the current position you’re at?
Typically if you read business books or talk to anybody about starting a business, you would hear advice that is centered on the importance of having a business and sales and marketing plan; the focus is on numbers, figures and logistics that you would need in order to turn your idea into reality. But rarely would you hear the advice about having a Life Plan. That’s right, regardless of the size and the nature of the business you’re planning to launch, if you are an aspiring business owner, you must assess whether you and your life is actually ready to take on this venture. Overlooking this can often prove to be a costly mistake and a lot of unnecessary headache can be avoided by paying attention and planning all aspects well.
So what do I really mean by a Life Plan?
Your Life Plan will contain several things:
1) Your personal goals, ideas, vision and aspirations long term
Business and work is a component of overall life, albeit an important one; therefore it needs to fit in your overall personal plan; it shouldn’t be the other way around. What is your idea of success? What are you looking for in your life ultimately? What kind of life would you like to have? How big do you want your business to be? Will your personal life be able to handle the new entrepreneurial lifestyle and all the changes being in business will bring? These are just some of the many questions you need to pay attention to, ideally ahead of time.
2) Is your family on board?
Starting and staying in business is a long term decision and it’s not going to be like a 9-5 job by any means, where you go and come back at a set time and have a set schedule. Business requires long hours, total focus and commitment if you want to succeed. Especially the first few years when you are just getting established, trying to drum up business, building a steady clientele, takes a lot of energy and time. All this means time away from your family; do you think they will be supportive of the same? They need to be on board so you can do this successfully. And by no means should your personal life suffer because of your choice of work; it just wouldn’t be worth it.
3) Are you healthy enough to start and sustain a business?
If you’re wondering what correlation your health has with starting a business, let me explain. Starting and running your own business requires a lot of energy on a daily basis. There are times of stress and frustration due to the pressures of work and so it becomes imperative that you ascertain that you are actually physically fit and can handle entrepreneurship. You are equipped mentally and physically to handle whatever comes.
4) What about your finances?
A lot of people think about getting into a business because they feel this is the way to make money. And it may very well be but you must know as an aspiring entrepreneur, this stage comes after a while. Your credit score is important, good savings support is important as initially for at least a couple of years there won’t be any steady pay, if at all any. If you’re not in a financially strong position to begin with, your ability to stay, build and sustain your efforts won’t work out. And if you have a family to support, it just would make things that more challenging.
These are just some of the important aspects you must look into. It’s one thing to start a business, but another to sustain it. Don’t be in a rush into getting a business or a marketing plan ready, your first step should be to really have a Life Plan that addresses these aspects. Having this in order will help you succeed in the long run.
Pack your patience.
I travel 75% of the time for work which means devices, cords and work attire. I always pack in color themes, because it is less to think about! Magic three words—Mix and Match. Take a tip from a male co-worker: one suit, several clean shirts, and one pair of shoes. Keep it simple. Jewelry and scarves can keep it fresh and trendy just like us working gals like it! If you can, keep hair products, liquids, crèmes and potions to a minimum so you don’t have to check a bag. I do realize that not all faces are “3 ounce compliant” so many of my professional friends do check bags (including me). Ah well, can’t win them all.
Be organized when you get to the airport.
What does that mean? Have your boarding pass pre-printed or smart phone app ready to scan. Don’t put on belts and jewelry for the day until after you clear security (saves time). I keep mine in a plastic bag ready to wear on the “other side”. For early flights, I always pack a protein bar and a piece of fruit. You never know if you are going to get the option of upgrade, or if the airline will actually have food onboard that is appealing at o’dark-thirty! Be ready. Once you are in the security line start de-robing! Faster is better. Some airports have fast-track lines for seasoned travelers. Know which airports have them and get in line! If I am traveling outside of the USA, I always register my passport with the State Department. You can go to statedepartment.org and follow the simple instructions. Heaven forbid, but if there is a catastrophe, our USA Embassy or Consulate goes to that registered database to see what citizens are in-country and may need help. They can also assist with communication back to the States and your loved ones. If you visit any country, yes even Canada (they are NOT the 51st state), you should do this.
Staying connected means different things to different people.
For me it means operating (and knowing) in the REAL time for the time zone I am visiting. I keep my watch set to my home time zone (yes, I do travel so much that that is what I call EST). My smartphone deviates to local time so I am covered either way. I don’t call my children at inappropriate times this way. I tend to text “motherly” messages of encouragement, don’t forget (fill in the blank: homework, water the plants, feed the cat etc.) and I love you. For work, I think most workers are used to colleagues that travel, but just in case I always include the time zone in my signature line. With so many ways and devices to communicate from , this is less of a problem (or surprise) than it used to be.
Patience packed, clothes streamlined, organized boarding and security, and communication channels enabled—that’s best practices in travel for the 21st century. Two last tricks that have served me well: 1) Always have food and any medications I need with me; and 2) Leave the TV on a low volume when I leave a hotel room…trying to fool anyone with less than honorable intentions.
Safe Travels to All….
Nowadays, everything is so ON! At work, people can connect with us via phone (landline and cell), fax, email, text, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Skype… The list is endless!
And when we do get home with the work cell and laptop in tow, we have to fight the urge to do a “quick” check-in while eating dinner or giving the little ones their baths.
Unfortunately, being fractured like that doesn’t do anyone any favors. Children and significant others can feel slighted because we are still somewhat in work mode, and any work we try to do may be compromised because we can’t fully focus on it.
So don’t do the crazy juggling act. Pull the plug.
I know what you may be thinking: “What if there’s a problem at work and I’m needed?” or “But I’m waiting on correspondence from an important client!”
If you hold a position that does require you to attend to work in the evening, you can still pull the plug, but in a strategic way:
- Delegate. If your company’s operations continue after you leave the building, be sure to identify and train one or two people on your team who are key individuals for handling routine problems that may come up. Define critical situations in which they can contact you, but overall, these folks should make it possible for you to have some quiet nights with the family.
- Have a back-up. In addition to the team members who will handle the everyday issues, you should also have a peer who is able to do the heavy lifting in case you are not available. Because runs to the ER and other family emergencies are never expected, not to mention the fact that you do deserve a vacation now and again, it’s important for you and for the well-being of the company to have that additional layer of support.
- Schedule your time. This is especially necessary if both you and your partner have demanding jobs. Implementing a schedule for the time after work will remove that chaotic feel of trying to figure out on the fly who will cook dinner, who takes the kids to their activities, and whose turn it is to be the homework helper. When you know in advance what your schedule will be for the evening, you can take steps during the work day to allow yourself to be unplugged (at least some of the time) and fully focused on your family.
What other measures do you take to be able to pull the plug at home?