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Unexpectedly Unemployed? June 27, 2007

Posted by John M McKee in Action Plans, Business, Coaching, Notes for Business, Personal Success.
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       John M McKee

It’s a reality for a lot of folks who were certain they’d never find themselves out of work.

With new computer programming, cheaper sources of well educated professionals oversees, and more demanding and competitive marketplaces every day, the liklihood is that almost anyone can find themselves out of work nowadays.

If you’re an accountant, you’ve aleady seen the effects of software like TurboTax.  North American and other western countries are seeing their country’s medical professionals now being replaced by individuals who are well qualified and trained but live in India where – thanks to high speed access – they can look at a patient’s MRI or XRays and give an opinion for about 1/3 the cost usually associated; and do it faster than many patients have come to expect.  Lawyers are watching as new websites take traditional high margin / low time investment business like divorce or business filings away from them. 

Nobody is bulletproof anymore.  So what to do if you suddenly are told your services are not needed any longer?  Here are 4 action items which can help you survive at the outset:

1. Negotiate a severance package before you leave the office.  Typically, most companies will pay a week of pay for every year you’ve been with them and they’ll usually extend benefits for a certain period of time.  But these can often be increased to include more pay for those with more senior roles within the organization; I’ve seen lump sum payouts which included extra time before the ‘official’ leave day, holiday and vacation pay, stock options payoffs.  It’s not unusual to get several months of cellular service or even a laptop when you ask.  Other common packages include things like “outplacement service” which involves using a service organization to help create a resume and provide a temporary office to work out of and / or using a coach to help you through the ‘transition’ and consider new options for the next phase of your life.

But don’t be adversarial – the HR folks or your boss will anticipate a hassle and it’s usually the ones who are the most ‘understanding’ who get the best packages when they leave.

2.  Consider what’s in your bank account currently – then cut down on your typical living expenses.  I once worked with a guy who’d been laid off unexpectedly.  He called his wife from the office to tell her and they had a very emotional conversation about how unfair it was and she was supportive of what a bad outcome this was given his years of loyalty.  As the call wound down, she told him that she was off to a meeting with a large retail chain to look at some new furniture they’d been talking about for the last year or so. 

I don’t think it makes sense to continue spending patterns which were developed when there was a constant and reliable income stream.

3. Consider getting into something entirely different next time.  If you were “de-hired” this time around because of one of the above world events; chances are you may be again.  Give some thought to changing careers, even starting your own business this time.   I realize that it’s tough to think of investing money to start your own company when existing money is a big consideration, but this may be the best time to get creative and start looking at how to make a new enterprise succeed on a shoe-string.  Savings accounts and lines of credit exist for rainy days – this may be one of the rainiest periods in our life so consider using them.   Write a business plan and test it out with friends, relatives, others in the same field or even from tartget customers.  If you have confidence in your idea after those dialogs, then I suggest you treat this time as one of those golden opportunities which appear out of nowhere.  Get moving!

                                                      -john

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