Many of my clients came to me because they were in danger of getting “taken out.”

Some came directly, paying for a coach themselves. In other situations, a company who wanted a coach to help save one of their teams retained me. In most cases, if the individual is prepared to do what’s necessary to keep his job, we are successful together. But, in some cases, the client simply isn’t prepared to do what’s necessary. And then he faces being let go.

However, this isn’t always the worst case. In many situations, parting with your employer is the best thing for both sides. For the individual, it can have a very good outcome after a rocky ride. So, if the boss no longer talks to you about your future and it seems like the “next step” for you is to go out the door, here are a couple of things to noodle:

Before the shoe drops:

1. Get your resumes updated. Why do I use the plural? Because you want to have something, like a boilerplate document, ready that can be customized for any opportunity you seek. It takes no time at all to emphasize those parts of your experience that will make you look like a better candidate for a given position. Using a one-size-fits-all resume reduces your ability to stand out in a crowd.

This exercise will also help you get in touch with what you offer. It allows you to review yourself regard to the “competitive environment” in the marketplace. You may realize that it’s time to improve some of your strengths or upgrade some of your skills.

2. Recognize that it takes a while to get a new job. In the IT sector, the old, quick and dirty tool was to use the number of ten-thousands of dollars you make each year as the number of weeks you may be searching for a new job. So, if you make $50,000 per year, you’d bank on the idea that you’ll be looking for about 5 weeks for your next job. If you made 100k – you’d assume that it could take 10 weeks. But this tool is now greatly impacted on what part of the sector you’re involved with and where you live in the US. Judge accordingly. Always plan for the downside.

Hopefully you won’t take too long to get re-employed and you’ll have money in the bank to use for nicer things. The point is: don’t assume that you won’t need to pinch pennies for a long time.

When the conversation finally takes place:

3. Don’t get cranky; it’s not personal. I know, it does feel awfully personal when someone says you’re not up to their standards, but debating it or getting upset only makes matters worse. And how you handle this situation could impact how much of a severance package you walk away with.

I’ve had HR execs tell me that because they were impressed with the style of the person when told they were being let go, they were prepared to sweeten the severance package as a result. Think of this as being a bit like when a customer service rep on the phone treats you poorly – those folks are used to getting yelled at, but when someone is nice to them they have a little latitude to be “nice” back.

4. Negotiate well. Severance packages are often pretty generous, but don’t take the HR Department’s first offer. When you are told what the company is prepared to provide, be polite, thank them for their assistance, and ask for some time to review it before getting back to them. If you’re over 40, Federal law gives you 21 days to assess it. If not, ask for a week or two and stall until you’ve got some perspective.

This is a good time to use a professional to help. Try to find someone who can give you a little help assessing if it can be better like a lawyer, business coach, former colleague, or head hunter. Any of these individuals may be able to help you negotiate a better deal. Offer to pay them a percentage of whatever upside they help you get in your severance. If they increase your payout by $10k, you can afford to give them $1k. If not, they get nothing.

When you’ve left:

5. Decompress. Take some time off before you start looking for a new job.

I know this is tough, especially if you’ve got expenses and obligations to look after. But you need to give yourself a break, clear your head of whatever baggage is up there about the last job, and start to think about this a great opportunity to have a better life. After you’ve had a few weeks off, then you get down the work of getting a new job.

6. Make a solid plan. This “down time” is a terrific way to think about what you want to do when you next. My advice: create a Personal Action Plan that contemplates all three key life aspects – personal, financial, and career.

Your plan should look ahead at least 10 years – don’t make a short-term list of goals and think that’s good enough to guide you. Such lists rarely work beyond a year or so and could end up frustrating your potential. If you don’t know how to create a long-term plan, click on Leadership Coach below my name at the bottom of this blog. Everyone should have a Plan. Period.

Here’s something you may not know: Many people who are very successful, famous, and/or rich, were fired out of a job earlier in their careers (some of them a few times) before they finally realized what they should be doing. There’s a great book called We Got Fired that talks about this subject. It discusses many well-known individuals who cite their dismissals as being the best thing for their career growth.

The point is, you’re going to bounce back. Although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, getting dusted is a genuine opportunity to have a far more successful and satisfying life. Take advantage of it if it happens to you.


Leadership Coach