Overcoming the stress of changing jobs: An interview with Inés Temple

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When that day arrives, take it slow and control the anger that this news may cause you. Accept what happened and share it openly with your life partner and family from the start. You need each other to cope. When you are calm, evaluate your situation and design a plan to continue your professional life and career development.

When a person loses his job, he normally faces the loss of income, decreased self-esteem and the lack of daily contact with friends and colleagues. What other losses are faced by people in this situation and how they can cope with them?

Losing a job can be much more traumatic than one thinks, because job loss involves the loss of much else that working involves: power, development, self confidence, and so on. The proper way to handle this situation is to accept and take the return path which can be long and lonely. Avoid denial and prepare for some disappointment, enjoy the small victories and valuable rediscoveries, especially regarding your family and spiritual life.

Besides those mentioned, experts say that perhaps the biggest hurdle candidates have to juggle before start their job search is the feeling of "I’m not in the mood to job search." What is your advice?

The change of emotions that involves each setback — also called the “emotional roller coaster of transition” — often begins with the uneasiness we feel when there are signs that  tell us something is about to change. When change comes, we feel the shock of loss, the reality hits us in the face.

Right after comes denial, a defense mechanism that allows us to digest the reality by little bites while giving us some relief, and then gives way to confusion about what happened, and why it happened. The "why me?” what to do or not do, tell or not tell, who to call …

What comes next is the fear of the unknown. Uncertainty about the future overwhelms us and we doubt about ourselves or our abilities, about what we want or should we expect from life or our careers.

This is followed by anger, rage, and start looking for someone to blame or aggravating circumstances of our loss. Many find culprits soon, others blame themselves and that anger, legitimate and real, can lead to harmful behaviors.

The sadness for the loss, for what is was or could have been…. for our dreams, for people we miss or things left behind can be overwhelming. The depression that can follow does not necessarily mean that we shut up in bed, but life becomes dull and every step is painful: everything seems more difficult. Sometimes in this part of the curve we stay still and without hope. We just don’t act and it seems we have touched bottom.

At this point of the curve those who eventually succeed, take an important step. They accept what happened in the past is past, and there is no turning back. They accept reality as it is: painful and incomplete, and they decide not to surrender. They change their attitude. 

Sometimes on their own, or with the help of friends and colleagues, they believe again in themselves and decide to commit to create a new reality, goal, business or career. They take responsibility for their life and create a new reality. They design and implement, with faith and passion, the action plan that will lead them to their new goal. They move on and finish going through the curve of emotion ready to continue growing and learning.

Going through a period of unemployment or job search can be a good opportunity to consider a change of course in the professional and personal life? How do we do it correctly?

If you just lost your job it is very important not to try to get another one right away. Do not make unnecessary calls; avoid communicate with other people. This may sound strange, but one must wait until the anger and bitterness have calmed down and one can see the situation from another perspective. It is important to wait until you are really ready. When the time is due consider these recommendations:

Never say anything negative, never! Don’t talk about the misfortune that has happened to you. People don’t like to hear bad news and much less want talk to someone resentful or bitter, or with someone being disloyal to his former company, whether or not they are right. To appear as a victim doesn’t help, either.

If your employer has offered an outplacement or relocation program, contact your consultant immediately. If not, consider the following:

Don’t call your business or professional contacts to tell them you need a job or to ask them to get you a job. Improvisation doesn’t help and only hurts good opportunities.

Don’t avoid people. Contact your friends, explain the situation objectively and be able to tell people how important they are for you at this point of your career.

Update your contact list. Make a list of friends, relatives, business associates, former classmates and former co workers, suppliers, competitors, among others; all who might know about hidden job opportunities or may give you the names of people who know about them. Remember to include in the list all those who know you professionally and appreciate you, regardless if they hold important positions or not.

Make a list of other organizations in which you may be interested in working for, but don’t contact them yet. Start thinking about your career plans in the long term, whether it is in the same profession, change careers or further education.

Don’t apply to job ads until your strategy, attitude and preparation are ready. However, read, clip and save those that are of your interest.

Don’t fix or send your old resume from five years ago. As part of your relocation strategy you should make a new one, more appropriate to the current job market. Your new resume should not exceed two pages and ideally you should not only list a chronological account of positions and responsibilities held, but also you should describe concisely and in a “selling way” your successes and achievements as well as your contribution to the bottom line. Remember to support with skills and competencies your ability to add value.

It’s not the time to go on vacation (although you might feel the need). Don’t make a pleasure trip, don’t get lost in administrative or judicial paper work, don’t start to paint the house. You have a job to do and these things can wait.

Start a personal financial assessment. Consider leaving aside for now significant costly expenditures. Avoid the temptation to spend on appliances, electronic devices, cars or real estate. Moreover, consider ways to reduce current expenditures, but don’t put your family on a diet of bread and water because that will only increase family stress. Make a family cash flow, project it forward several months and involve your family in the process to gain the commitment of everyone in the plan.

Would you say that the main factor of success in a relocation process is "networking"?

Most people tremble when they hear they have to make “contacts.” I think they picture themselves knocking their friends’ doors and their friends’ of friends’ doors. Or worse, they feel exposed to declare to the world that something bad happens in their lives so they must go out to look for those who can “rescue” them.

Others mistakenly believe that networking is a manipulative activity. Worse, they believe that networking is to call to ask favors from people you no longer have any connection to for years or even people you never got along well or even to strangers.

A few months ago I heard a young Peruvian use an expression that left me pleasantly surprised: “networks of trust.” I think he was referring to something else, but to apply that term to replace the dreaded “networking” helps those who are distressed to hear the latter.

Then, network or “network of trust” is to establish and maintain existing links with people who know you, appreciate you and respect you. We should always keep an updated list, especially if there are changes in our lives or theirs. We must have and show a genuine interest in the person we are talking to, his or her life, family, plans, challenges and aspirations.

Even for those who are seeking work, to build networks of trust is to share a good time re-establishing trust, camaraderie, respect. It is about personally and positively inform them about our news, our desire to do things, is about "renewing" our personal positioning. To tender ‘trust networks’ is even a pleasure: is a fundamental human social activity!

One important point: there is no such this as a minor contact. One does not establish trust only with those who are important or powerful by the fact of being it. Many people make the mistake of making their contact list include only those who hold high positions or leading companies, bypassing peers or subordinates who are the ones, usually, who help us the most and who give us better tips about hidden opportunities.

If you had to give one piece of advice to people who are looking to relocate what would it be?

Take it easy and have faith in yourself: Don’t sit at home waiting for a job to appear because that won’t happen. Only you can solve this problem. Do it with enthusiasm and make the most of the opportunity for a change in your professional life.Think that what you are going through, despite how unbearable it may seem, will pass too. 

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