Sep. 8, 2011 – Layoffs and terminations are very much part of our culture and laying people off and being laid off are both fearful and challenging for everyone. Following are some tips from OI Partners, a global coaching and leadership development and leadership consulting firm, for employees who wish to be proactive in managing their careers.

“Layoffs and terminations usually take most people by surprise. They are generally unprepared for what to do next,” said Steve Ford, chair of OI Partners.

“There are possible warning signs to help employees make adjustments, and be ready to move forward if a job loss occurs,” Ford added.

Among possible termination warning signs are:

  • Your boss is making less eye contact with you than usual.
  • You have less face-to-face time with your manager.
  • You are included in fewer meetings.
  • You received a poor performance review.
  • You have been told your skills or knowledge are outdated.
  • Your workload or responsibilities have been reduced.
  • Your co-workers know more about what’s going on than you do.
  • Emails you send seem to have less importance.
  • Your comments and suggestions are not considered.
  • Cutbacks in your department have been more severe than others.
  • Your company’s earnings or stock price have declined dramatically.
  • Your employer has announced plans to outsource.
  • Speculation about layoffs is rampant.

“Individual employees do not have much control over their company’s financial situation and the economy. You may be able to correct performance-related issues if they exist. However, if a number of these signals are present, you should formulate an action plan in case it is needed,” Ford added.

If you are affected by a job loss, OI Partners offers this advice:

  • Explore whether you can work for your company as a contract or freelance employee.
  • Determine what severance pay and benefits you will receive.
  • Utilize career counseling you are given.
  • Request job-search assistance if it is not part of your severance package.
  • Prepare your family or significant other for the financial effects of the job loss and adjust your budget accordingly.
  • Do not immediately begin a job hunt until you have had time to put things in perspective.
  • Do not send out resumes, call networking contacts or reply to job postings until you are fully focused.
  • Consider transferring your experience to another industry or changing careers.
  • Examine starting your own business or becoming a contract or freelance worker for past employers.
  • Look into pursuing your “dream job” in addition to positions similar to those you have held.

“Many people are too upset and emotional after losing their jobs to quickly launch a search. Give yourself some time to re-assess your career and determine what you want to do next. Conduct a thorough career check-up and develop an action plan,” said Ford.

Whether or not the top termination warning signs apply, employees should continually update their resumes, build and maintain their career networks, and keep their professional knowledge and skills current.

Employers can provide outplacement career counseling assistance to terminated employees to ease their transition. “Outplacement assistance upholds the morale of workers who remain as well as those who are displaced. It reduces employees’ anxiety, demonstrates good public relations, and reflects corporate social responsibility,” Ford added.

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