Monday, November 7, 2016

Surviving A Change In Your Work Status

Don't Panic!

From Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
If you are reading this not long after the event of your layoff or firing, don't worry, you aren't alone. Also, it's not the end of the world either. Sometimes the worst things that happen are a huge chance to re-evaluate everything and make bold decisions.

I was recently laid off. It's not a happy situation for anyone. Some may revel in escorting people out the door, but for the most part, everybody is uncomfortable with it.

There is a lot of anger and resentment that can come up. Feelings of rejection or remorse. Those are all very common. If you are on the other side of the coin, where suddenly you feel like a weight is lifted, life seems a little easier, or just more bearable, maybe you knew you should have, could have, left that place a long time ago. But some sense of duty or sheer will to prove that you could offer value and help make things better kept you there longer than you should have. It's alright. Either way, you are free to go off to new endeavors.

Melissa's Tips for Surviving

First, take time to just breath. If that's a week or a month, that's OK. You might have some savings or severance that lets you relax a little and recharge, do that. Unemployment can also work in this direction, letting you find the right job to apply for and do interviews, but take care of you in the process. The trick is not to stay in this state of relaxation for too long.

Second, make a list of things you never found time to improve upon, work on, or go to involving your career. Whether that's writing articles, or brushing up on the latest in ReactJS, working through a bootcamp, reading a book or finding meet-ups. Doing this allows you to keep your skills sharp and your knowledge base on par with any other applicant in the job market. It might even give you an edge in some instances. It can also help tremendously when you are trying to network and understand how the market is shifting and what skills are valued in an ever changing industry.

Look at different industries too. Switching careers can be a large task, but not unheard of. I've done it before. All it takes is making an inventory of your talents and interests and then pivoting to one of those. It's remarkable what experiences we can take from one industry to the next just by seeing them in a different light.

Third, don't get discouraged. Or desperate. Over time, that gets harder not to do. And if you apply for a lot of jobs, but don't find exactly what you are looking for or don't get an offer, it can be hard on morale. That's when you need your network and meet-ups the most. Start a project from scratch, volunteer to work on projects that allow you to practice concepts you didn't have time to do before. Mentor other people in the job market. Keeping your spirits positive and keep yourself motivated. Get a workout routine, go to yoga classes, make new friends.

Fourth, you might be stressed about budgets and incomes. That's OK, but don't let that become a blocker to getting things done that help your well-being. Find ways to trim down the budget but still have your needs met. Are you used to going out for lattes everyday? Maybe buying a small espresso machine or switching to store-bought cold brew is the answer. You still get your caffeine fix, but at a cheaper cost point. Think about the stuff in your place, can you trim it down? Get on Craigslist or Let Go and sell the things that have been gathering dust, are little used, or just aren't that important to have anymore. If you want to go all out, have a garage sale and really make some deals. This can get you ready for your next adventure as well as clean your house of things you haven't had time to deal with until now.

Finally, be open to possibilities. Be open to moving. Be open to new ideas. Be open minded about opportunities. The simple fact of letting yourself see where you could be if you changed perspectives is something that people over look, but shouldn't. It takes bravery. Unknowns are scary sometimes, but sometimes those unknowns are the best opportunities to move forward.

*As of this post, I am currently working at ThoughtWorks in Dallas, TX

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