It is Sunday evening and your smartphone vibrates. You see a cryptic text from someone you don’t know in human resources requiring an urgent meeting with you. Your mind races with worry about something you may have inadvertently done. Since you know that you didn’t do anything wrong, you’re a little confused. You contact some co-workers to find out if they know what is happening. They share with you that they have also received the same message.
You’ve noticed that a couple of seats are empty on your floor. Several people nervously return to their desks visibly flustered. When your time comes for the meeting, you see dejected people averting your gaze with their heads down shuffling past you. The office is small and cramped with paper strewn about. A junior-level person wearing an ill-fitting suit that you’ve never seen before curtly informs you that your services are no longer required. There’s no niceties, small talk or empathy. He brusquely says that a security person is going through your laptop and packing up your belongings that will be sent to your home at a later date. Your head is spinning, as you’re wondering if you’ve done anything wrong. Why are you being treated this way after 10 years of loyal service? In your 20-year career, this has never happened before. The meeting is a blur and—before you know it—you’re outside the office building in the cold, bewildered and call your spouse sharing what just happened in a choked-up voice.
I’d love to say that I’m making this up. Unfortunately, this is becoming a common occurrence that I’ve now heard from many people. Just like how the entire interview process has become cold, clinical and inhumane, so has the manner in which people are being let go. I’ve heard this story too many times. People tell me that they’ve been required to train new hires, who then take their jobs. Some teach the new employees who then go to another country and do the job from there, as your job is eliminated. With much fanfare, people have been brought aboard to help with important, mission-critical projects. They were warmly congratulated for all their hard work. Once it’s done, they’re callously asked to leave. “Thanks for everything and good luck with your future endeavors!”
- While this is an unpleasant topic, we have to talk about it and can’t pretend that we’re immune from it happening to us. Here is my advice.
- Maintain close relationships with your manager, so that you’re in the know.
- You always need to be on the lookout for the stability and safety of your job. Don’t ever take anything for granted. Your antenna should be constantly up and vigilant for any changes that could adversely impact your career.
- Look for any signs that your position is in jeopardy. If there are red flags, don’t ignore them and just hope they’ll go away. Take immediate actions to fight for your job.
- Keep your résumé up to date, nurture relationships with recruiters and go on interviews when are invited. You don’t want to wait until you’re out of a job to start from scratch.
- Try to make yourself invaluable to the company.
- Prepare for the dreaded day when you’re tapped on the shoulder to meet with your boss or human resources.
- If you are prepared, then you can take back some control when this happens to you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask, “Why am I getting laid off? Is it due to my race, religion, age or other discriminatory reasons?”
- Inquire as to what the company will tell prospective hiring managers when they ask for references.
- Ask for everything that takes place to be put into writing.
- Feel free to bring up the subject of a severance package.
- Find out what happens to your 401k, health benefits, vacation and sick days that haven’t been used or any stock options that will be left on the table.
- Determine if you are entitled to outplacement career services to help with your job search.
After experiencing this stressful situation, allow yourself some time to digest your new reality and heal. Then, immediately brush yourself off, get back up and start looking for a new job. As angry as you are with the situation, don’t show it. Act positive, motivated and enthusiastic. Nobody wants to hire a person who is irate and resentful. View this as a new chapter in your life and you’re happy to take on a new and exciting challenge. You might not feel that way, but you need to come across to the world as super confident and in control. Use this as an opportunity to move onto something bigger and better. The best revenge is to succeed in your career and look back at this as a learning lesson.