No matter how secure you think your job is, every once in a while you should conduct a “fire drill” and go over your own safe exit strategy. Don’t wait for rumors about lay off at your company. Be aware of the conditions of other companies in your industry and your state. Here are some ABC’s for staying flexible like the trees that make it through storms.
Assess your job skills, enthusiasm and energy. Try to see your abilities from the point of view of the employer. If you were in the boss’s place and had to lay off people, who would you lay off and why?
Think like an entrepreneur even if you never want to start your own business. When you feel like you are responsible and running the show, you sharpen your skills; you hold yourself to a “no excuses” standard; and you keep your enthusiasm high. That makes you very attractive.
What does the boss want? Many of them will tell you that enthusiasm and energy matter more than job skills. You can train a willing energetic person to do something new. What do you do with a bright person who is lazy, know it all, puffed up or unwilling to contribute?
Assess your strengths and make them stronger. Acknowledge your deficiencies. Figure out which ones could get you fired. Decide what to fix. Skills and enthusiasm will probably keep you employed and employable. It’s more fun too. It’s your life after all, enjoy it.
Be aware of your spending habits. Before any crisis hits, you should know how much money you really need to live on. That must include saving for days when you have no work, and paying on your debts.
You don’t have to be a slave to a budget, but if you have never given yourself the chance to really account for every dollar, you may be missing a golden opportunity to make the best choices for your life.
If you lost your job today, what’s your backup plan? How long will your savings hold up? The answer should be, “I have enough saved up until I find a job even if that takes awhile.”
Don’t carry more credit card debt than you can pay off in three months. If you owe more than that, check to see if your credit card has insurance that pays the minimum balance if you are laid off, or disabled. Good credit opens doors.
Chart a search plan for a next job. Volunteer; join groups, organizations, or clubs. Stay connected to people. Be there to help others too. Especially today, if your friend is a valued employee and recommends you as a good worker, don’t you think that would have some persuasive power on the person making the hiring decision?
Depression and other psychological reactions can be part of changing jobs. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself for the time it takes to drink a cup of tea, coffee or a beer. If your dreadful, down feelings take hold of you for weeks, maybe you are blaming the job loss, but that isn’t what is causing the bad feelings. What else is going wrong in your life? What fears did losing your job stir up?
Talk to the most upbeat, successful people in your environment. Go exercise. Walk around the block. It’s proven that physical exercise helps. If nothing is working, give yourself the gift of a professional who can counsel you on how to change jobs, or cope with the underlying problem.
Evaluate equivalent work on an apples-to-apples basis. Just because another job is paying more, doesn’t mean it is better for you. Check the benefits. What does the employer contribute to health, disability, retirement?
Check the advancement possibilities. What’s the dignity quotient of the place? Do they respect their employees?
Face the job search with the desire to learn and an adventurous attitude. New opportunities can develop new talents, and more of your personality. Nothing is wasted if it is done with integrity, curiosity, enthusiasm and a spirit of service.
By checking your safe exit strategy from the point of view of your money, your skills and your psychology, you stand a better chance of saying, “Next” with confidence and optimism.
*Adapted from the newly released guide Losing Your Job? Five Key Points to Surviving, which can be purchased through www.wealthychoices.com.
Dr. Tzougros is a registered representative offering securities and additional Investment Advisory Services through WS Griffith Securities, Inc. Member NASD/SIPC (781 893 0567)
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