From Losing My Job
It started off as any other Wednesday, but I soon realized the day was not going to be the normal grind. Today is the day I would be losing my job. Co-workers grouped together in the far corners of the office and spoke in hushed tones. They occasionally pointed to various cubicles with solemn gazes before glumly looking down at the floor and shaking their heads. As the day grew older, the groups grew larger as more staff members learned the news. Before too long, nearly everyone in the office had received their fate. Gatherings migrated to the local pubs to support one another and nurse their sorrows. After learning I would be losing my job, perhaps I should join them for a drink!
Have you ever been laid off? Losing my Job was an Unexpected Shock!
It’s common to think that only those who don’t meet expectations are the first ones to go, but the grim reality is that anyone, regardless of their standing or track record of success, is susceptible.
Steve Jobs was famously fired from the company he founded! I’ve seen the folks let go from the world-class, industry-leading teams they built, and ultimately it’s the way of the world. Businesses will forever operate in their best interests, and tough decisions are a part of playing the game.
But what can you do to prepare for that moment before it happens? How can you stay ahead of the curve? How can you see imminent change before it hits you? It’s easy to get comfortable in a role and to feel like you’re good enough to rest easy each night. The truth is that if you are not continually reinventing yourself and making time to grow your skills, that your ticket could be punched when you least expect it.
There are standard and unsurprising practices for keeping yourself ready for new opportunities. These items have been the gold standard for generations and have proved effective over the years:
- Keep your resume/ LinkedIn information updated
- Stay in touch with your extended network
- Stay up to date on your licenses and certifications
What you may not know is that these habits alone may not be enough to get you back on your feet in today’s industries. The world today is changing at a faster pace than ever before. Efficient and minimal-downtime robots are taking over the jobs of factory workers. Computers are now able to do the basic work of engineers while software coders are programming machines that can create their own software. Cars are on the brink of driving themselves, and a continually decreasing percent of the population still files their taxes with a human accountant each Spring. Needless to say that this is only the beginning of a new age of digital innovations that will continue changing the face of workforces everywhere.
So then, how will you compete in the coming economy? Steps I took after losing my job.
First, study the trends. Study the macro industry trends beyond your organization and stay informed beyond the daily barrage of political “news.” Understand the coming technologies and how they’ll affect you. Learn the ever-changing needs of your customers to ensure the value you’re providing is the value they need or desire. Also, study the micro trends. How do decisions within your group or organization impact your work or influence the customer’s view on your product? Ensure that you are always providing value and never fall into the trap of just doing work for work’s sake.
How are you playing to win?
Next, make a habit of learning new things and instill a growth mindset. It’s a common misconception that learning is only for the young. In fact, the brain is like muscles in that, with exercise, you can continue to grow mentally stronger at any age. After losing my job, I started playing to win.
Not only will this routine provide health benefits, but also has the ability to keep your skill set relevant and adaptive. Adaptability is one of the most sought after skills by today’s employers beyond what is taught in conventional curriculum.(1) (2)Did you catch that? Learning new skills imparts multiple benefits to help you become more marketable in the ever-changing workplaces. If you’re not sure where to start, study up on selling. Great products are nothing without sales. Great ideas are meaningless unless you’re able to sell others on making them a reality. Your abilities won’t find fulfilling outlets unless you’re able to sell yourself in interviews. Take time to read and to learn new things personally and professionally each day. Free up your mind to promote adaptability and to level-up your skills.
Third, leverage the high rate of global innovations to your advantage. A combination of creativity and being informed is a surefire way to success in any business. If you work at a corporation, chances are you are surrounded in inefficient processes. Read a book on entrepreneurship or Agile Project Management and apply new ideas to old approaches. Implement new software solutions in place of old and manual workflows and set up automated rules in your inbox to automatically segregate distractions and clutter. Search for shortcuts and macros on the web to automate repetitive processes. Integrate online storage solutions such as Dropbox and Google Drive to boost collaboration. Small benefits accumulate to become large impacts and those impacts will work wonders for your career.
Finally, always be preparing for your next role. Even if you’re happy working in your current position, take time to create ways that you can better today than you were yesterday. If your goal is a promotion, sit down with individuals that are already in those roles. Talk with HR and your managers to share your aspirations. Nearly every opportunity that has been extended to me was the result of letting an enabler know that I was interested in something bigger. While I didn’t always get that “something bigger” right away, my contacts expanded my role to help grow me in the right directions and introduced me to new mentors that would challenge my abilities and foster my development. Always ask questions of others and over-deliver on what others ask of you.
To sum up, in order to future-proof your career and succeed in business, follow these simple steps:
- Study the trends and ensure you’re continually aligned with customer needs
- Take time to read and to learn new things each day to instill a growth mindset
- Leverage the high rate of global innovations to make small waves that compound into large impacts
- Communicate your goals with enablers to always be preparing for your next role