New Years: Remembrances and Resolutions – Part 1

Looking back – wow!  Its hard to believe that 2015 is over.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect on this year – the good and the bad.  For me, this was a good year professionally.  It was a good year educationally as I’ve finished my coursework and begun working on my PhD dissertation.  I can celebrate having a wonderful and supportive family.  That family celebrated the life of my father who passed away in May.  My respect for him and the impact he made on so many people’s lives continues to grow.  Editorially, I’m Fired came out in print and for the second consecutive year over 1,000 people visited the website.  If you are one of those people, thank you.  I can confidently say I am a fortunate man.

So, how about you?  If you’re reading this blog it is likely that you are a job seeker.  Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not, but there is more to your life than your job.  Use this opportunity to take it all in, and appreciate what you have, and make time to let others know that you appreciate what they mean to you.  If you are in job search, reflect back on what you know and what you’ve learned.  You will need a good sense of where you came from before you can clarify where you want to go.

Take time today, before the celebrations tonight, to look back on 2015.  Enjoy your successes, remember those who you lost, accept what you have, and know that you are not alone.  One of my favorite poems is Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and I encourage you to read it.  When I was in college, the Dean of Men had poster-sized version on the wall behind his desk and he would regularly recite it to young men who were struggling.  The final lines are:

“and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.  With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be careful.  Strive to be happy.”

Happy New Year!  Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about resolutions.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.


How long will this take …

I get it. You just lost your job. You have bills to pay. You’re ready to go back to work.  The question you ask is “how long will it take to find a new job.”  You better be sitting down, because you may not like my answer.

The rule of thumb that I use is that you should be prepared for your job search to take one month for every $10k of salary you want to earn.  So, a $30,000 annual salary job could take 3 months and an $80,000 job could take 8 months.  I’ve been fired/laid off/RIFed/what-have-you six times.  The fastest I’ve ever found a job was 2 weeks (and actually I had some advance notice so it was really about 4 weeks) and the longest was 13 months.  That is not completely true because one time after about 4 months I decided to open my own consulting business and stopped looking.  After about 2 years that consulting business led me to my next job.

This does not mean it will take that long.  Some people are in the right place at the right time. Also, if you already have a strong and well-maintained network, you may be able to speed up the process.

Likewise, this does not mean that it will only take that long.  For the 1-month rule to be a rule, it has to be an average.  For many of you it will take longer – but hopefully not much longer.

What this means is that you need to be patient and you need to be prepared.  If you think you are at risk for losing your job, evaluate your assets.  If you have no other source of income and will rely on unemployment and savings, how long will they last?  If you don’t have enough money for the rule of thumb it will change your search process. You may be forced to settle for a lower paying job just to get some income flowing.  You might have to lower your standards, or look in another geographic area.  You just need to be prepared.

If, like me, you have a loving spouse with a good job and you can get by, be patient and work the process.  Know that it probably won’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen on its own either.  You have to do the work, build the network, and get the system to work for you.

Patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to finding a new job, impatience often is just as important.


Holiday Giving …

In about a week many of us will be sitting down with family and friends to celebrate the holidays and exchange gifts.  What gift can you give a job seeker? Here are some of the items that have been on my wish lists over the years:

Resume Support – not all job seekers are equally gifted with grammar, writing or word processing skills.  If you have those skills offer to help the job seeker with their resume and cover letters.  Help with the phrasing, proofreading and layout so the resume presents the job seeker in the best possible light.

Networking – actively work to help the job seeker expand their network.  Just because you don’t know anybody that you know is seeking to hire someone with the job seeker’s background, does not mean that you don’t know someone.  Introduce the job seeker to the people you know and let the network take care of itself.

Time – job seekers are often unemployed and may need support like day care or transportation so that they can go on networking meetings and interviews. They may need someone to run some errands so they can focus on meeting an application deadline.  Give them some of your time, so they can spend their time focused on the job search.

Financial Support – while many won’t want to ask for help, being unemployed can be financially draining.  Financial support, no matter how small, can be incredibly uplifting.  Offer to pay a phone bill or water bill, buy some groceries, or whatever you can.

Emotional Support – more than anything, job seekers need your emotional support.  Most job seekers didn’t plan to be job seekers. They lost their job, and while often that was not their fault, that does not mean that they don’t see the loss of a job as their failure – their inability to provide for their family.  Often, they don’t need advice as much as they just need to someone to be there, to listen, to encourage and just be a positive and affirming presence in their life.

Holiday giving isn’t about the dollar value of the gift; it is about the thoughtful act of giving.  Give your job seeker a hug, tell them that you believe in them, and you’ll support them during their job search.

Happy holidays!


On Being Fired …

In 1969 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a book called On Death and Dying that changed the entire way that we looked at the grieving process.  In the book Kubler-Ross identified five stages in the process:  Denial – this isn’t happening to me, Anger – it’s not fair, Bargaining – please God, I’ll do better, Depression – what does it matter anyway, and finally, Acceptance – we had a great run now let’s look forward to the next phase.

With some perspective one can apply these same five stages to many of life’s challenges and they definitely apply to being fired.

Denial – no, there must be some mistake – they can’t fire me I’m a good person and a hard worker.

Anger – it’s not fair!  I do way more work than Joe, fire him!  This is discrimination!

Bargaining – there has to be another way. How about if I take a cut in pay?  Could I work part-time for awhile?  Maybe if I get some more training?

Depression – whatever – I’ve seen this coming – there is nothing I could have done – I probably deserved it – I should have left when Bob quit.

Acceptance – Okay, what’s done is done – time to move on and find that next job.

We all grieve at different speeds.  I’ve worked with hundreds of terminated people and I almost always see these same 5 steps. Some people take months, others can fly through the range of emotions in minutes.

The deal is though, that you will not be effective in looking for a new job until you get to stage 5.  While this may sound harsh, you just need to get over it and move on.  You might have been discriminated against; there might have been a chance for you to take a cut in pay; maybe there was a mistake; but at the end of it all, you’re sitting at home on the couch watching Judge Judy when you should be out looking for a new job.  No pitty-party, no woe is me.  Get up, brush off your resume, start networking, and get to it.

Looking for a new job is a full time job. If you let your anger at your former employer come out in your interviews, no one is going to hire you.  If you pout and whine during a networking meeting, no one is going to refer you to their friends.  If you can’t get off the couch and make some phone calls, your network isn’t going to grow.

It’s hard, but it’s life. I’ve been there. I’ve seen many other people do it.  You can too. Now get up and get to work and find that next job.