Dear Career Doctor:
Today I learned that my job that I had for 20 years has been terminated. Where do I begin – it is a very stressful situation – and I am at my wits end to say the least. How do I start over?
First and most important: remember that in the last few years so many excellent people have been in your position, that there isn’t a stigma to losing a job these days. So gather your wits, hold your head high and, if you want to keep your life pretty much as it is:
1. Ask about any other position in the company that you might move into. Explore how your knowledge of the company and how it operates is valuable and might be used in other ways.
2. When negotiating a severance package, ask for outplacement counseling. If that is not possible, you might want to ask to keep your desk and phone for awhile, if you think that would provide structure and contacts.
3. Make a list of all your accomplishments at work– all the ways you made your job and your company better. Try to come up with specific examples, facts and numbers. Use this information to put together a resume that “sells your assets.”
4. Ask your boss(es) to give you a glowing a letter of recommendation. Give them a copy of your list of accomplishments to help them write this letter.
5. Ask your bosses and co-workers for the names of anyone who might know of jobs in your field. Contact these people saying who suggested you call.
6. Make your own list of people who might know of jobs or people who can help. Think of everyone in your neighborhood, house of worship, or clubs, in fact anyone in any area of your life or your friends’ and your relatives’ lives who might be able to help. Contact them all. You never know who might help — and you only need one good lead.
But, if you want to use your new freedom to explore a different life, ask yourself what you would do if you had a magic wand — where you would live and what you would do. Then go through the list above and see if there is any way to use your experience, contacts or counseling to make that happen.