Are you an exec whose job is gone?

What is the first thing an executive usually does when he or she receives the bad news that his or her job is being eliminated? From my experience as an Executive Transition Coach for many years, they either go into panic mode or denial. Both are deadly reactions to this life-changing event.

Let’s handle panic with this post. Most executives immediately try to find another job. They mobilize their network, spend useless hours on their résumé (a rarely used document at the executive level), and annoy every headhunter in the nation. Most executives see a termination or lay off as a bad thing. It is a gift!

Now, I can hear you saying, “Please don’t give me gifts like this!” Well, let me ask you this. If someone handed you $1M wrapped in some old newspaper, and said, “This is yours,” would you turn it down? Yet, being laid off or terminated can actually result in $1M or much more extra income in your life, even if you’re in your 40’s or 50’s. It can also result in you being much happier in your career and life.

You see, most people just drift from job to job, rather than planning their career moves. Those who are strategic about their careers make calculated moves at certain times to produce certain results. They almost always wind up reaching their goals, if illness or tragedy does not interfere (and, often, even if it does).

But the typical executive just takes the next job that comes along, whether it is an ideal position or not. Especially after a lay-off or termination, most executives just take whatever will pay them a similar salary, rather than using the time well to map out strategic career moves.. Here are some things to do to utilize the time between positions strategically, rather than just floating into the next (boring) job.

1). Downsize your lifestyle as much as possible. Part of the gift of unemployment is a chance to shed some of the extraneous stuff that is eating every paycheck up. Have a talk with your family, and ask what you really need, and what is useless. Chuck that which is useless, and look very hard at what you think you need.

2). Hire an Executive Transition Coach/ No, not the outplacement the company gave you. A real, live Executive Transition Coach with experience in helping people at your level through this time…and the psychological and vocational tools to evaluate you for your future.

3). Plan your next steps. Is unemployment the ideal time to plot out your career? Of course not! The ideal time is while you’re still employed. But, like networking, planning is something that most executives don’t do until they’re unemployed. It is better to do it now than to “wait until I’m employed.” You know that, once you’re working, you’ll neglect career planning.

4). Plan your future steps. While the old Jewish proverb, “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan” is true, planning is also necessary. Understand that it is written on paper, not inscribed in stone. But having a plan is better than having none.

Plan your future titles and your future income. It’s okay to change the plan in the future. Plan where you’d like to be at the end of your career now, though. Go in a specific direction.

5). Be open to opportunity. I’m not advocating sticking to the plan regardless of what comes along. You should carefully evaluate each opportunity and see if it fits in with your life goals.

6). Be open to serendipity. Sometimes beautiful things come along. Be willing to look at them. Also understand that the meeting of your goals may not come in the way you think it will. The Universe always enjoys practical jokes on humans.

7). Be ready to make new plans and new goals. Many of us reach our goals before we’re dead. So make some new ones if you’ve achieved all the old ones (or even if you haven’t!).

8). Don’t be a cheap so and so. It is always amazing to me that executives will spend $100K on a new car, yet balk at spending a bit of time and money to accelerate and optimize their careers. Your career should be one of your top priorities…not just an afterthought.

Doing this planning and mapping will help you keep your life targets firmly before you, and be a guide in accepting new opportunities. Those who plan their careers get much further than those who do not, just like everything else in life. Start today to actually plan your career, and you’ll see this time of unemployment as a great blessing in the coming years.
{pagebreak:Page 1}