Let’s say you lost your job, you’re looking in earnest for a new career opportunity, and your name is Ethan.
As Ethan, you’re 59 years old and you can’t really retire comfortably. You think you need to work at least until 65.
As Ethan, you feel you’ve done what you could to create momentum after your career setback, the layoff, but you are not seeing results and are, essentially, at a standstill. The layoff, by the way, you think of like your insurance policy; you might even call it a “no-fault” situation. But, when you look a little deeper, you just might have had something to do with it. Here are some of the factors you’re starting to think about:
• Your souring relationships with management, and in particular, that new younger manager. (People matter.)
• Your refusal to take a new job that required more travel 18 months ago. (Ambition matters.)
• Your reputation for excellence at your job but not with other colleagues. (Relationships matter.)
• Your damaging self-talk habits don’t help. For example, you may say: “I am just more of an introvert, and I can’t get across my value” or some other negative statement about yourself. Unless that statement follows a thought of improvement it will infect you at this critical time. (What you say matters.)
Ethan represents a composite of what I have seen time and time again over many years. Career recovery successes occur at all ages.
Like Ethan, the defeated person who loses their job may know they need help, that they bear some responsibility for their job loss, but it’s hard to admit. Even if you haven’t lost your job, you may know you are on rocky career ground. Asking for help in gaining new employment is one thing. Trying to change habits is even harder, but it’s essential. There is a critical moment for Ethan and all of us during this time; loss, change and setback often set us up for a unique opportunity to advance.
What will Ethan do? Like anyone in this situation, he has two basic choices that will determine the trajectory of the rest of his career: Do you essentially give up and try to tread water, or do you try to make some changes, then give up? Or, do you use this job loss to improve your brand, your attitude, your spirit and your career path?
This is a pivotal life and career moment. Improved training, resumes, interview preparation, research and network building helps, but it’s amplified by a positive attitude. It’s so gratifying to see so many people we equip turn their setbacks into comebacks. Getting the exterior elements together matters, but unless there is a recognition and a commitment to changing thoughts, self-talk and bad relationship habits, it can derail, delay or hurt a career turnaround.
Here’s how you can overcome bounce back during career change when you are in a position like Ethan’s:
1. People matter. So make them matter. A job loss represents a time to change this habit. Volunteer, take a contract job or a new assignment, and immediately make a commitment to excellence — but also commit to mentoring, helping, encouraging and assisting others. It will change you more than them.