You had a job – until today.
Your worked XX years for the company — but not including tomorrow.
You walked out of a buzz saw meeting with your boss and the HR Director.
They told you: nothing personal but you’re not needed in the company anymore.
Here’s a nice severance package — to please hit the road and not slander or sue us.
What do you do next?
Connections and ex-colleagues find me when they become involuntary career free agents.
They figure, hey, you’re a recruiter, so give me the the answer key for: what do I do after I get fired?
I offer help when I can – though often it’s to offer advice and encouragement.
Some of it from my own experience as an involuntary career free agent.
My first advice: take a few days or even a week or two to decompress and whine.
No deep stewing or wallowing in your misery.
But it’s OK – and healthy – to whine for a bit to flush any negativity or self-pity.
Get any venom out of your system before you start talking to people about what’s next.
Whine with a deadline.
After your whining deadline, begin your self-reflection period.
What do I want to do next?
What do I need to do next?
You may face short-term economic pains that trump your wants.
If so, go get another job.
Whatever you can get and fast.
Hit the job boards and LinkedIn jobs and make a short-term job pick.
With savings and a severance package, focus more on WANT than NEED.
Think long-term career optimization versus short-term convenience.
What’s the optimal work environment for me to be successful and happy?
What do I want to do and where do I want to do it?
Who — what kind of people and size and type of company?
Draw a mental picture of your future ideal work environment.
Make it loose enough to be flexible but defined enough to set constraints for your search.
Write it down.
Edit it over a few days or weeks.
Next, determine what and where are the companies that may fit.
If your geography is a constraint, that makes this a simpler exercise.
Map out all potential companies within a reasonable radius of where you want to work.
Use LinkedIn to network into your target companies.
Contact people you’re connected to on LinkedIn — and 2nd LinkedIn connections — working there.
Ask for a short phone call or cup-of-coffee exploratory meeting.
Other wisdom to use during your career free agency:
- Your one to-do list item is to get hired. Everyone you’re chasing has 100 things on their to-do list. Their list may not include hiring you or even helping you. So, be persistent but also be patient. Thank people for their time and advice.
- Remember: “Congratulations, now something better can happen!” Repeat it to yourself often – because it’s true.
- Know that recruiters get paid to place people in specific openings with clients. They can help you but only if you fit a specific client opening. It’s unrealistic to expect a recruiter to drop everything they’re working on to find a job for you. That’s not how they/we work or get paid.
- Buy Lou Adler’s book “The Essential Guide For Hiring – And Getting Hired” on Amazon. Follow Lou’s prescription for how to get a great new job.
- Stay the buyer. Being jobless may incline you to give off a slight whiff of desperation. Keep your ego strong. Never be arrogant, of course, but act like you don’t need any one job. Because it’s true. You will be a more compelling candidate to hiring managers.
- Time is your most valuable asset. Whatever you choose to do in the next 1-2-3 years will affect the next 5-10-15. Make a decision based on long-term factors, not expediency.
- If you’re near or past age 50, yes, you will confront age bias and subtle age discrimination. Not a helluva lot you can do about it. Don’t let other peoples’ head trash weigh you down.
Hope this helps folks in my network who face an involuntary free agency situation.