Friday, May 08, 2009

Losing your job... what next?

Great advice from Harvey:

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week

Don't lose your head if you get the ax

When you have lost your job, you need to do four things: Get help. Get good advice. Get stabilized. Get busy.

Don't try to tough it out on your own. As soon as the ax falls, negotiate your departure. Circumstances vary, and finding another job may take longer than you anticipated. Protect your interests as well as you can.

Whatever is being offered, make sure it's fair. You can, and should ask for more severance, reimbursement for unused vacation time and sick leave, outplacement services, office space, office supplies, secretarial help and even tuition.

Are they getting tough? You get tough. Hire a lawyer if necessary. In case you consider this advice anti-management, remember that no management bigwigs let themselves get fired without hiring the best legal advice available.

Government assistance for the unemployed? Why not? You've been paying for it all these years—just in case something like this ever happened.

Now is the time to talk to friends, relatives, old schoolmates, customers, vendors, business associates and professional advisers. They may not be quite as interested in hearing about your troubles as you would like them to be; they may be expecting their own bad news too. But put the word out that you are on the job hunt and would appreciate any help.

So focus on the positive. You have something to offer. By helping you, all of the people whose assistance you solicit are helping themselves as well. They're helping put you back in a position where you can do them some good. They're piling up points for the time they may need the same kind of help.

You need to know where you stand and where you're going. You need to take an inventory—financial, professional and emotional. It's time to revise your budget. There are advisers who will tell you to cut down on everything. Not me. You can't cut down on your medical needs. Keep lines of communication and transportation open—you need to be accessible and available for prospective employers.

Borrow if you have to, perhaps from yourself. If you have equity in your home, interest rates are low, and now is a favorable time to consider a home equity loan or refinancing. What about Mom and Dad? Can they help you start your own business or go back to school?

I believe in education as a kind of capital improvement in the structure of society. It's a good investment. Don't be hesitant to borrow, particularly to replenish your professional inventory. In fact, self-improvement is the one area in which you should really increase your spending, not decrease it.

Take courses. Upgrade your skills. You cannot ever afford to rest on the skills you learned in high school or college or your last job. The workplace is filling up with people who graduated long after you did and who have acquired newer, more efficient skills, who are young, eager and hungry to show those skills to employers. Keep on going to school. Enhance what you already know and pick up new material on topics like computers, language, public speaking and writing.

Nothing impresses me more as a potential employer than someone who is out of work but still actively going to school. In fact, what excuse is there for not being in a school of some kind when you're not employed? It's the true test of your determination to get into the workplace to present an up-to-the-minute, trainable, quality package to a potential employer.

If you were fired, it's a great way to prove to yourself and others that you're capable of bouncing back after a setback. It's a real confidence builder. It's the best single thing you can do for yourself.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker will have 12-14 job changes in the course of a lifetime and will undergo five career changes.

Get a routine. Like yourself again. Spend some extra time with the kids. Read. Have a little fun. Get some exercise. Get busy. None of us have time to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves.

There are worse things than not working. Like not getting ready to go back to work.

Mackay's Moral: Getting fired should get you fired up!

Miss a column? The last three weeks of Harvey's columns are always archived online.

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