Surviving and Thriving During Job Loss Downsized, re-structured, right-sized, terminated, fired. However you describe it, losing a job can be a devastating event in our lives. Most of us will lose a job at least once in our lives; many of us more than once. When a company reduces its workforce, good people can lose their jobs. Knowing this doesn't ease the shock, frustration, anger, powerlessness, confusion and sadness. Unemployment takes its toll on financial, emotional, social, and time resources, challenging us to rethink who we are and how we approach work. The workshop has 3 sections designed to acquaint you with expectations, information, and resources. Graceful Exits Maintaining Vitality Next Steps Graceful Exits Leaving a job is never easy, under any circumstances. Reading the signs of downsizing and knowing what to expect may help you to prepare for a graceful exit and maintain good relations with your former employer. Not burning your bridges will help you get a good reference and keep the door open to be re-hired later. The Writing on the Wall Sometimes companies inform their employees in advance that layoffs are coming. (Some states and the federal government require advanced layoff notices.) In other cases, it comes without warning. It's important to remain calm without ignoring the signs of change. In either case, you might be able to read the writing on the wall. Below are some warning signs of potential downsizing: Hiring freezes Earning warnings Spending warnings Budget cuts Restructuring Negative news articles Project cancellations Management resignations Termination of temps &contractors Attrition without replacement hiring Reductions in support staff Competitors, suppliers or customers laying off Search the Web and your local newspapers for layoff articles pertaining to your industry. Before you start to worried, remember that companies often have seasonal ups and downs. However, if you see two or more warning signs, keep your ear to the ground for a new job. It will be wise to reduce your personal spending. Talk over financial priorities with your family to develop a plan for managing money while you are between jobs. To help with budget planning, About.com has money saving tips. Disaster or Opportunity This is a good time to think about your long-range plans and goals. This may be a job you want to keep or an employer you want to stay with. If you truly want to remain with the organization, this is a good time to make your intentions and loyalties clear to your supervisor. Remember that he or she may have little to say about downsizing decisions and may not know their own options for staying with the employer. This could be a good time to explore something new. Contact the Center for Career and Professional Development for job search assistance, career counseling and assessment or career management coaching. Leaving Your Job Without Burning your Bridges Before you submit a letter of resignation, be prepared to leave. You may get escorted off the premises on the day you quit, unable to return. The same goes if you get laid off or fired. This quick departure practice is often used at companies where employees have access to confidential information or expensive equipment. So, if you know you're going to quit or think you might soon get fired or laid off: Take personal property home, so there's no question what belongs to you or the company on your last day. Delete, move to disc, or email your personal files from your PC. Make a list of current contact information for future references, potential networking associates, and vendors and clients if appropriate. Get letters of recommendation from people you trust to keep your confidences. Compile a portfolio of your work that does NOT include information for which your employer holds a copyright or patent. For tips on developing a portfolio. Get a free personal email account with Gmail, Yahoo or some other email provider to send files to yourself and have emails forwarded to you. Naturally, you want to do this discreetly, with the right people at the right time. Be careful what you say and to whom. Best to vent your frustrations and discuss your concerns with people outside work. A good reference from you former employer is often essential to getting your next position. To make a stellar impression on your way out, you may want to: Wrap-up any projects or parts of projects that you reasonably can. Document where you left off with work in progress. Update any written procedures for which you are responsible. Prepare progress reports on recent accomplishments. Create a list of where to find resources that your co-workers may need to pick up the pieces after you leave. Severance Benefits An optional benefits package might include: Separation Agreement - This binding contract outlines the terms of your layoff. It usually states that you will not disclose trade secrets or hold the company liable. If you sign it, you may get a better severance package. But because it is binding, you will want to read it carefully and possibly have a lawyer look at it before you sign. Severance Pay - This may range from nothing to several months at your current salary, plus unused vacation, and perhaps sick pay. Your employer may pay it all in one lump sum or in regularly scheduled paychecks. However you're paid, ask your employer to stop voluntary deductions, such as contributions to your 401(k). Outplacement Services - Your former employer may contract with career consultants who offer seminars on interviewing and updating your resume. They may also provide free access to computers, printers, phones, and fax machines. These consultants will not place you in a new job or provide career counseling. For more comprehensive career counseling and assistance, contact the Center for Career and Professional Development at 303-458-3508 or 1-800-388-2366 x3508 for an appointment. Health Insurance - Coverage will end on the day you're laid off, or shortly thereafter. By U.S. law, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to continue your coverage at group rates, plus a 2% administration fee for 18 months. Life Insurance - Term insurance usually ends the day you're laid off and is not covered under COBRA. Your former employer may offer you a continuance option, which may be expensive. You may be able to find a better deal with another insurance company. Disability Insurance - This also ends the day of termination. You might also be covered by your state unemployment plan for free, but the weekly benefit amount may be less than private plans. Retirement Plan - Ask about rolling over 401(k), profit sharing and other retirement accounts. Unemployment Benefits - Contact your state employment service to file a claim for unemployment or disability compensation, and apply for job services, training programs, and other benefits. For Colorado State unemployment information see : http://www.coworkforce.com/uib/ Maintaining Vitality Dealing with job loss means knowing what to expect, accessing resources, and having a plan. Job loss is emotionally painful and acknowledging this discomfort is often overlooked in the job search. Maintaining vitality is one of the best strategies for moving through it. It’s common to have feelings of anger, lack of energy, resentment, sadness, and fear. Some of us may feel depressed or anxious. These emotions can sabotage our best efforts to develop strategies, network and do research, or interview effectively. Awareness of resources on the Internet, in our communities, and in ourselves keeps us connected with assistance that is close at hand. Specific techniques for managing painful feelings and stress can also help regain the energy, hopefulness and optimism you need to jump start your job search. Adjusting To Change Adjusting to changes we've not chosen for ourselves is difficult. As a visual representation of what is happening, take a look at the graph that follows. The process looks linear, but you may find yourself moving back and forth between steps as you deal with the emotions of losing your job. What phase would you place yourself in now? Where were you the day you were let go or you left your job? Where do you see yourself in 2 weeks? As you look ahead, list what you need so you can be in a more resourceful state. Arrival and Realization require patience with yourself, taking care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually, and developing support systems. List the personal resources you have at hand -- friends, relatives, counselors, or members of your spiritual community. Job loss can usher in low spirits or even depression. Pay particular attention to the following:Loss of appetite, sleep problems, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, anxiety, irritability, loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, unexplained fatigue, inability to concentrate, thoughts of death. If you're experiencing these feelings a licensed counselor can help you. Look for help from your company's Employee Assistance program, county mental health services or a referral from a trusted friend or physician. The Career Counselors at Regis can assist you in beginning to process your situation as it relates to the job search to assess resources, examine possibilities and determine direction and next steps. The following graph from the Menninger Leadership Center shows typical stages of adjustment to change. Arrival: Change has happened. Mix of shock, disbelief, numbness, false hope. Nothing will really change and if it does, it won't affect me? Realization: Impact hits. Anger, frustration, confusion, anxiety or depression dominate people's thoughts as they see the negative possibilities. Acceptance: Reorganizing thoughts around resources, decisions, planning and actions. Seeing the positive possibilities, acting on new opportunities improves morale and performance. Re-entry: Moving in a new direction with a sense of what you learned and gained from the change. Making friends with change helps you see it as a catalyst for new opportunities. Managing Transitions and Endings William Bridges describes the transition and change process in his work on personal and corporate transitions. A critical point he makes is that productive movement through transition comes with productive endings. Without a clear ending to a situation, our forward movement is hampered. Managing change also means learning to live with the discomfort of uncertainty and times in which events don't follow a plan. This is learning to live in the Neutral Zone, a limbo time that must be navigated before a transition is complete. Learning to create and practice new behaviors and attitudes that support your successful transition propels you into the new beginning, the last phase of the transition process according to Bridges. The following checklists add insight for you about areas where you're managing endings and transitions well and about areas where you may want to develop additional resources. William Bridges' transition model has 3 components: An ending, the neutral zone, and a new beginning. *This checklist is adapted from Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, 1991, Addison-Wesley, by William Bridges. As you work through this checklist, you may find you're doing better than you thought. Bravo! If there are areas where you'd like more support, clarification or ideas, the Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development counselors can assist you. Regis Center for Career and Professional and 303-458-3508 or 1-800-388-2366 x3508. Making the Most You will experience discomfort, frustration and even sadness during this job loss time. You will also experience a newfound appreciation for your resourcefulness, problem solving, and ability to respond to negative events. From the experience of people who've suffered a job loss, we have much wisdom about what can help you make it through - not only what can help you survive, but what can help you thrive. Below is a list of proven ideas that have been used successfully by people moving through a job loss. Set Up and Follow a Schedule Going to work has its own structure and schedule. It's one of the first things we may miss. Plan time for tracking job search activities, but also time for leisure activities that bring you pleasure and energy. Focus on a Healthy Lifestyle Moderate exercise provides a great stress buster, stamina builder and energizer. Eating well provides the nutrition you need to keep going and to deal with uncertainty. Avoid drugs and alcohol. A temporary 'relaxer' will actually sap your strength and compound negative feelings and behaviors. Reach Out Asking for help, support or encouragement can keep you from sinking further and get you back on course. Reaching out can also mean volunteering an hour or two a week. Take time to enjoy family and social activities. Keep Your Skills and Abilities in Mind Be open to looking at new directions, new ways to use your experience, knowledge and skill repertoire. Career Counselors can assist you in envisioning options, detailing skill and knowledge sets to use, and discovering options. Take Advantage of This Time As strange as it seems, there are advantages to having time on your hands after a job loss. Now may be the time to catch up on house projects, read for pleasure or career enhancement, take a class, or volunteer. All of these will ease your discomfort and contribute to a sense of productivity. Keep a Sense of Humor Humor helps us keep our experiences in perspective. Laughter is a superb source of tension relief and energy. Watch a funny movie, surround yourself with people who have a good sense of humor, or read humorous books and stories. Stress Management Web Sites The following sites give good ideas for managing stress. Pamper yourself a bit. The Stress Management Supersite on Holistic-online.com gives ideas for health and well-being during difficult times. The causes and effects of stress, as well as strategies for mastering tension and anxiety are described in this article. "Stress Management for Patient and Physician" / By David B. Posen, MD The Canadian Journal of Continuing Medical Education, April 1995 Next Steps Now that you have made a graceful exit from your former employer and given yourself time to come to terms with losing your previous position, looking for your next job will be more efficient and effective. As you plan your job search, this is a good time to assess your goals. The Center for Career and Professional Development offers the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Strong Interest Inventory career assessments online to help you clarify your goals. Career counseling and job search assistance is available FREE of charge to all students, alumni, staff and faculty of Regis University. To schedule an appointment (in-person, over the phone or via Skype), call 303-458-3508. This is the time to take inventory of your skills, strengths and talents. You have a lot to offer your next employer. The following checklist will help you plan an effective job search campaign. Resumes & Cover Letters Decide on format Write/revise Schedule an appointment to have it reviewed by a Career Counselor. Post resume on CareerLink Write cover letters for each position When appropriate, develop a portfolio of examples of your work Researching Careers & Employers Research careers Identify potential employers Look at their Web pages Look up financial and annual reports on websites Find printed information on employers and careers Find contacts at those companies or career fields Search corporate research websites For more information and help, take our online workshop: Discovering and Researching Employers Networking Tell friends and family you are looking for a new job Call contacts Set up information interviews Send thank you notes after information interviews Attend professional meetings Attend job fairs Respond to job announcements Interviewing & Negotiation Before the interview find out about the employer Prepare for common questions Develop a list of strengths to present in the interview Practice interviewing with a career counselor Be prepared to point out your best qualifications Have a few good questions to ask Relax and enjoy learning about a potential employer Find out about the next step in their decision making process Find out the salary range for similar positions in your area Send a thank-you note For more help with Compensation Negotiation, take our online workshop For further assistance with your job search, contact Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development, 303.458.3508. Thank you for participating in the Surviving and Thriving During Job Loss Workshop, offered online by Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development. For a career counseling appointment, contact us by phone: 303.458.3508 or 1.800.388.2366 x3508.