Yesterday I lost my job.
I, along with 11 others from Habanero (many at Hab longer than I), were let go. You can read all about the reason and the outcomes if you want. It’s a first for me. In the past, career change has been either driven by me or by the merger, acquisition or sale of companies I’ve worked for. Never money or economics.
Disappointed pretty much sums up how I feel right now. As many of you know I made a big change to join Habanero and moved my family from Vancouver to Calgary to work for the company. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I expected a better outcome.
But now the task of finding new work begins. And I have to be positive about the future.
What I wanted to talk about though in this post are some things to consider about your career and about creating a safety net so if you ever find yourself in this situation, you’ll land feet down and moving forward, not standing still wondering “what just hit me?”. Here’s my list:
Always keep your portfolio and resume up-to-date
Funny enough, I had just tweaked my resume a few weeks earlier – I usually keep it up-to-date with recent project work and had fallen behind. It can be hard after-the-fact to recall past work, successes and stories. One thing I did forget to do though was grab copies of my work (e.g. wireframes, sitemaps, workflows, strategy and planning, etc.). Not all employers are going to be supportive of giving you stuff after you’re gone. So be prepared. That way you can show what you’ve got when new opportunities arise.
Never doubt the power of family, friends and networks
They say that more people find jobs through who they know than anywhere else and that those who find work fastest have the support of many people. Family and friends are critical parts to your recovery.
Start with family. Tell them what happened. Let them help and be supportive. After I got home and cleared my head I first called Daria (my wife) to talk to her about the changes her first words were “we’ll be OK”. Immediately I felt better. As my friend Robbin said so wisely via email “the good news is that jobs are replaceable, and family, not quite so easily”.
Spread the word. Next, I updated Twitter, Facebook and sent out a few emails to key contacts. As the word spread people offered up ideas and suggestions on where to look, extended their contacts and networks to me and played a big role in keeping me positive on the first day (and the days following). It’s an amazing feeling to see so many supportive people pop-up and say “what can I do to help?” By the end of the day I had leads on some contract work, an interview booked and a potential gig to consider. Not bad for Day 1!
Get references. Seek out those who will be able to speak to you, your work and the outcomes. You’ll need these later when you find your next job. Doing it now will make it easier.
Reconnect with your network. All kinds of possibilities can fall out from a simple email or phone call to update on where you are at. Contacts from your past project work are also a great resource. Let them know what has happened, where you have landed so they can keep an ear out for new opportunities.
Don’t forget about the people you left. Drop them a note to say you’re OK and give them your new coordinates (email, phone, etc.) so they can keep in touch. Make arrangements to hook up again soon. Don’t just disappear!
Update your profile. We all have so many places where we say what we do. Be it Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, associations, your email signature, etc. Make sure you update these.
Consider all your options
Maybe you’ve been thinking about a different career direction, going solo, or have been thinking about exploring or expanding on some other areas in your skill set. Now is the time. Be frank about what you want to do, especially if you weren’t happy doing what you did before (not my case) and seek those opportunities out.
Plan for hard times, not just good times
Live practically, keep your debt in check, your savings robust and make sure you don’t over extend yourself. It makes it easier to ride out these changes and downturns when you aren’t under financial pressures too. Not every job end comes with a big buyout.