The best “revenge” for being terminated in a job is landing a fabulous new job with better pay and perks says Marie Herman

While all of us wish for job security and hope we won’t have to experience a job loss, the unfortunate reality is that it happens to most of us at least once, if not more often, during our careers.

If you lost your job today, what would be the first thing you would do? Well, after going home, and crying your eyes out and pouting, kicking, screaming, etc. for a day or two…

You may feel like there is nothing you can do to prepare for this horrible event, but there are several steps you can take to minimize the impact and get you moving towards your next job. Here are eight ways you can prepare for a job loss while you still have your job.

1. Build Your Network

All too often I see people post a note on social media that they have lost their job and asking if anyone knows of a professional association they can join to network. Sorry, but AFTER your job loss is far too late to be starting to build your network. Do that while you are still employed!

Join a professional association. Attend meetings regularly. Get to know the other members. Hold a position in your association and serve on committees. Don’t have a local chapter of a professional association? Build one! Involvement in a professional association not only builds your network but also keeps your skills up to date (and looks great on your résumé). Working on projects with people helps them form opinions about what you are like to work with, how you interact with people, and whether they would want to work with you, or recommend you. People are far more likely to consider passing on your resumé or serving as a reference if they have worked on a project with you and had positive interactions.

In addition, these outside professional projects can help to build skills that you may not have access to on the job – such as learning budgeting skills, strategic planning, project management and more.

2. Strengthen Your Connections and Build Up Solid References

 Reach out to people on social media. Friend them. The time to strengthen your network is before you need it. Your first contact should be professional, but social.

Learn about your contacts. Congratulate them on positive news and occasions. Offer them feedback and support when they are facing challenges. Provide referrals and suggestions when they ask for help. Start building up a positive balance in your network karma bank. Be known as someone who helps others.

Share posts about your professional achievements and efforts. Let people know about awards you have received, certifications you are pursuing, and work successes (minus confidential details of course). Post about professional meetings you are attending, new skills you are acquiring, and new contacts you have made. Share insight on projects you have started or completed.

Why would you do this? Because it will keep your name in the mind of your contacts and let them know about your ongoing professional development. It will help them to feel like they are getting to know you better and know your skills. If they know you better, they will feel more comfortable keeping an eye out for a job for you, or passing on your résumé or providing a referral.

Think about it. Who would you be more likely to give a referral to? The person you worked with ten years ago who hasn’t said a word to you since they left the company, or the person who has stayed in touch with you on social media, and kept you up to date on their professional development experiences since they left the company?

3. Keep Your Resumé Up to Date

 It’s human nature to procrastinate on updating resumés until you have a need to do so. However, there are several reasons why waiting is an unwise choice. First, you’ll be in an emotional and anxious state and that’s not the best time to update your documents. Second, it’s unlikely you can remember highlights from multiple years if you have been in one company/position for a long time. We tend to remember the most recent items over older things.

Put a reminder on your calendar to update your resumé quarterly.

If you don’t have any changes, particularly over a longer period of time like a year or two, that should be a red flag to you that your career is stagnating.  You haven’t gotten any new training, taken on any new responsibilities, learned any new software, received any awards, achieved any certification, gotten a promotion…? Nothing? Yup, huge red flag.

Keeping your skills up to date, and regularly learning new things, and getting involved in new projects at work, is one of the best ways to stay employed.

Even if you lost your job, those attributes will help you find a new job faster.

4. Research Unemployment

If rumors are flying around your company of pending layoffs, and you are concerned your job may be impacted, take time to consider your options now. Paying off debt and building up some emergency savings are good ways to get started.

It can also be helpful to contact your state department of employment security. Ask about the unemployment process. Would you be eligible? How much money would you get per week based on your income? How many weeks would you receive the benefits, maximum? What if you get a part time job. How would that impact your benefits? What’s the process to start?

Getting a good understanding ahead of time about how to set up your benefits will remove that item of stress and help you plan better financially.

5. Keep Your Eyes on Local Job Postings

Maybe you are not planning to look for a new job, if those job cuts don’t impact you. You should still be checking out local job postings. Why? Because it will help you stay aware of what skills are most marketable! You’ll be able to keep tabs on what software is in demand, what kind of extra experience is most often requested, employment trends in your area, and what the going salary ranges are.

All of this will help you identify skills you need to acquire, maintain and, in some cases, let go.

This process can also help you keep tabs on who is hiring in your community. You can share these jobs with your network as a service (remember that karma bank?). You may see patterns (such as the same job appearing every six months), which might indicate a problem employer you would want to avoid.

Your goal overall with these steps is to prepare for your next career advancement, whether that is a promotion at work or a move to another company in a higher-level position. By watching for these types of positions, noting the skills required and requested in the ads, and then acquiring those skills, you are increasing the likelihood that when opportunity eventually knocks on your door, you’ll be fully ready to open that door and embrace it.

The best “revenge” for being terminated in a job is landing a fabulous new job with better pay and perks!

6. Use Your Benefits

If there is any realistic possibility of you losing your job (or quitting), be sure to use up your full insurance benefits for the year. This includes using up Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds if you have them. Be sure to sign up for as many medical appointments as you can (physical checkups, vision checkups, addressing longstanding medical issues you have procrastinated on treating, etc.). In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service requires that companies provide the full annual amount for an FSA program from day one of the year, even if you haven’t paid in your premiums for the full year yet. Use that money to the fullest!

If you end up keeping your job, that just means you’re taking care of your health, so there’s no downside to doing this.

While you are at it, you should also check out other benefits your company might offer and stock up on them as well. This would include things like discounts at local vendors (such as the gym or things like phone service), discounted movie tickets, entrance to local amusement parks, etc. If your company has made any arrangements for employees to get discounts, get those purchased while you still can.

Some companies have a waiting period before providing insurance benefits to new employees, such as 90 days. Taking care of these health tasks before you leave the prior company will help to ensure if you do have a few months without insurance, they won’t be detrimental to you.

7. Acquire New Skills and Education

Does your company budget training dollars for staff or provide tuition reimbursement? Take advantage of those offers and add new skills to your arsenal.

Another path to consider is pursuing certifications, especially if the company will pay for them. Microsoft Office Specialist®, Certified Administrative Professional®, and PACE®, are all examples of the many different types of certifications that are out there for you to look at.

It is a win/win. If you lose your job, the enhanced skills and education will be an asset as you search for a new job. If you keep your current position, you will likely learn ways to be more efficient, and may be able to make your job more interesting. In addition, the initiative you show your employer during this process may just inspire them to promote you. Your new skills may make you confident enough to apply for higher level jobs. Attending local training gives you an opportunity to expand your network.

8. Plan Ahead for Negotiating Severance

The very worst time to think about negotiation strategies and improving a severance package is when you have just been terminated. You are shell shocked and numb, perhaps even emotionally unstable. You may say things you regret, go completely blank during the termination process, or forget to ask important questions.

Imagine ahead of time a potential firing and plan out what you will say and ask for (heck, write a checklist for yourself if it helps and you fear you will freeze).

You may feel like you have no power in that situation and think you can’t ask for anything at all but that may not be true.

Are they requesting that you sign some kind of agreement before they will give you a severance check? Tell them you want to take it home and read it first and possibly have your attorney review it.

Here are some things to consider asking in negotiating:

  • More money than is being offered – you may not get it, but can certainly ask.
  • A waiver of tuition reimbursement payback – some companies have a requirement that you work there for “x” amount of time after getting tuition paid for or you have to pay it back. You can ask that they waive it under the circumstances.
  • Pay for outplacement career transition services – these companies help you with your résumé, practice interview skills and more, to ease the job transition.
  • Cover your health insurance – extending your coverage by a few months at employee rates or paying for your COBRA costs, could be possibilities.
  • Agree on certain terms for reference letters or future reference calls – this would include things like agreeing on terminology for the reason for leaving the job.

You may not get things you ask for, but you’ll never know unless you try to negotiate. Pick and choose your battles carefully. Don’t fight for a benefit you don’t want or need. If something is important to you though, go for it. Be prepared to make your point coolly and calmly, with persistence and insistence.

The best window of opportunity for this is after you are fired, and before you sign any severance package. At that point, you may hold some leverage.

I don’t think you need to be paranoid and convinced that your job is in imminent danger. But I think it is smart to do what you can to lay the groundwork just in case. If it never comes to pass, you’ve picked up some new friends and some skills that may open a promotion discussion during your next performance review, so that time was well-spent.  If you do lose your job, won’t you be glad you’ve done so much prep work?

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for steps you can take to proactively prepare for this worst-case scenario. While this may not eliminate the emotional angst of that painful process, the knowledge can be very powerful in helping you to feel like you retain some control over the process.

When it comes to career and professional development, Marie Herman, CAP, OM, ACS, MOSM knows how to take you from where you are to where you want to be. As the owner of MRH Enterprises LLC, Marie helps office professionals to advance their careers through ... (Read More)

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