Whether you call it a "downsizing", a "rightsizing" a "redundancy" or a good old-fashioned "layoff" - it still means the same thing - people losing jobs. This topic is about as scary to most of us as DEATH or TAXES. The loss of a job is traumatic, and I don't mean to trivialize it here. No matter how frightening the topic, you need to consider the possibility as you plan out your career. Here are some key points to consider from someone who has been on both sides of the issue.
- Lifetime employment is a thing of the past - the average worker today will have 6 or more employers through their career so you cannot bank on having your Father's "20 year and a gold watch" career. Whether it is done at your choice or that of your employer(s), you will change jobs before too long so don't set your heart on being there till you retire.
- Like the Godfather said; It's not personal, it's business. No matter how it may appear, the reasons behind layoffs are rooted in a business need. You may disagree with the need or the logic applied, but you have to understand that it's not done to target you personally. Sure there are cases where it is, but you have a better shot at being killed by lightening while holding a winning lottery ticket, standing on a pot of gold than being truly "targeted" in a layoff, and an even smaller chance of proving it... so just go on as if it's not personal.
- Only the fittest will survive. Generally the folks who survive a layoff process are those who are best prepared. Being fit in this context has less to do with physical fitness and more to do with career fitness. The exercises that keep you fit in this regard are; keeping your resume up to date, building and maintaining your network, pursuing career and personal development opportunities and continually assessing the environment both in you company and in your field (especially with regard to who is hiring). The best and most prepared among us don't really "survive" a layoff because we are gone before it can touch us!
- What does not kill me makes me stronger. As stated earlier, losing a job is traumatic. Your income, lifestyle and pride are all in jeopardy, but if you keep these points in mind, you can survive and prosper. Losing a job through firing or layoff has been the catalyst that launched some of the most impressive careers in history - you can use this forced change to help you jump into a new future - something you may have feared doing up till now.
- Victim or Victor - the choice is yours. Given that this can happen to almost anyone at any time, your ability to avoid being laid off at some point in your career is slim and you can have very little control over whether or not it will happen to you. The only thing you can completely control is how you respond to it. Many go into "victim" mode - they grieve, rage, fume and harbor resentment... none of these actions will get you a new job. You have to make a conscious decision to beat your circumstances by applying a rational, reasoned and disciplined approach to moving on and accelerating your career beyond this hurdle. The choice to be a victim or victor is completely up to you.
Start preparing yourself now. Don't wait for the handwriting to appear on the wall. Keep your resume up to date, keep growing and developing yourself and your network and always keep up with your industry for opportunities.