Getting terminated from a job is a painful, often humiliating experience. It is natural to personalize it, feeling like it is a statement about our value as a human being.
Many times the firing is because we are not a good fit for the job we were hired to do. Most of us believe, I suspect, that whatever the job is, that we will give our best, and it will be sufficient to fulfill the expectations of the job. It is not always this way, though. Sometimes we simply performed poorly and our termination is a disguised opportunity to find a place where we can flourish.
I can count three times this has happened to me over the past forty years. Two times the change was expected as the organization was in transition. Another time I was surprised and the pain of that moment will stick with me the rest of my life. In that instance, I was the executive director of a non-profit organization. I had great hopes for the work that our organization was doing. Not only was I fired, but the organization closed down only a few months after my departure. It was a difficult experience because the loss of my job was also the end of a vision for the impact that I had for the organization.
The first thing to do when you lose your job is to acknowledge it. Recognize that this is a transition point in your life. Sometimes this is hard to do because we feel that we are not done, that there is more good work to be done. Yet, the organization sees it differently.
This end can be the beginning of something special. Here’s how to approach this transition to find the best possible position.
Five Steps in the Transition To Your Next Job
1. Don’t Act Hastily
Be patient. You are in transition. Take time to recognize that change is happening. Get a feel for what this means. If you feel a deep sense of loss, then it is important to actually grieve what you will miss from your former place of employment. It may mean that you accept an interim position in order to work through those emotions.
If, however, you are relieved to be gone from your job, then take a little time to celebrate the moment of transition. Recognize that you have now been presented an opportunity to reset your focus and the course of your life and work.
For these reasons, it is important to not just jump into the next job. There is a mental and emotional process to go through. Take the time to go through it well.
2. Assess What You Have To Contribute
Focus on the impact that you had in your previous job. If we view work as just another set of activities that we do, then we probably are not clear about the contribution that we make. Frame this perspective as the impact that you want to have. By impact, I mean, this is what changes when I am doing my best work.
Create a list of the assets you bring. Use these as a measure as to whether the job you are looking for is the right one for you. By asset it is not just the impact that results from your work. But also the environment that will enable you to do your best work.
3. Write a Profile of Your Ideal Job and Company
It is helpful to remember, that when you enter into an interview with a company, they are not just interviewing you for a position. You are interviewing them to determine if this is a place where your purpose can be fulfilled. Searching for a job can be very confusing if we are not clear about the kind of company that is best for us. Along with having a clear understanding of what you bring to the job, be equally clear about the conditions of work at the company.
I am talking here about the company being a good cultural fit for you and the organization. There are three criteria to consider:
Is it a good personal fit? Will this job provide you a place to do your best work, to grow in your skills, gain experience that expands your impact, and to be compensated in a manner that you feel respected and appreciated?
Is the social culture a healthy one? Do people like to work with each other? Are they supportive of one another? Or do they just see their job as what they do between the things they love to do in their life?
Does the work ethic of the company align with yours? Is there a style of work hard / play hard? Or, is it a mix of different, competing styles?
4. Activate Your Network of Relationships
Finding the right job is not just a task on a checklist. It is a process of building a network of relationships. Almost every job I have had came through someone whom I knew. Here is the process for activating your network of relationships to find your next job.
Begin by identifying people you know who have strong networks. Prepare yourself to speak to them with a short statement of what you are looking for. If you are not clear about what you want, they will not be able to help you. This statement needs to be clear and succinct. Two, maybe, three sentences, at the most. One is better.
After telling these people what you are looking for, say, “Who do you know that I should know? Would you be willing to introduce us?” It is important to understand that you are not asking them to find you a job or give you a job. Developing a network of relationships like this is about more than finding your next job. It is the social structure for success in life and work.
5. Write Notes of Gratitude
To everyone who helps you, including the interviewers, send a note of gratitude. They will be surprised and gratified by your expression of appreciation. You will be remembered.
Finding your next job is not your next job. It is in building a network of mutual support and assistance with people. Do this and instead of having to look for a job, the jobs will come looking for you.
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