Another holiday season is upon us, and an all – too – familiar scenario plays out…another company picks this time of year to announce “changes”…changes, restructuring, rightsizing, downsizing, whatever they call it, for the coming year.
The specific scenario that I want to address is when one company buys into, or buys out another company…instead of just cutting heads, employees are allowed to “re-interview” for their jobs, in effect justifying their existence to the new regime.
No matter how it’s packaged and presented, it still means change, and change means stress…and more change.
Let’s first talk about what not to do, if you are faced with having to “re – interview” for your position.
• Assume the new regime already knows what great work you do
One thing you can’t do is assume your body of work speaks for itself…unless you’ve recently won the Nobel peace price or cured world hunger, chances are they won’t know your name… and you can’t count on your boss or mentor speaking up for you…if they do, great, but they will be concerned about their own careers, assuming they haven’t already been canned.
• Reject offers of help
If someone credible offers to help with your resume, by all means take it…if your HR department has a relationship with an outplacement firm, ask to speak to one of their counselors or coaches to help you…or find a coach on your own and get some help…the bottom line is that it’s tough to evaluate yourself, by yourself…you need an objective ear and straight talk. Remember, the Lone Ranger only exists in old movies, not real life.
• Keep your head down, hoping for the best or wishing things were different
This is the biggest trap to avoid – procrastinating in taking the steps you need, simply because you don’t feel like dealing with the demands now being placed on you. Delay only makes things worse, because when it’s time to act, you won’t be ready. Burning time by wishing you weren’t in the situation is an understandable reaction, but it is a luxury you can’t afford.
• Lash out in anger at the people you are talking to.
If someone offers you sympathy and encouragement, accept it with a grateful heart because they mean well. Don’t burn bridges, and (especially during the “re-interview”), remember to act professional at all times…just because your world got turned upside down, that doesn’t give you the right to throw a tantrum or be disrespectful.
Now, let’s talk about what you should do:
• Always be ready for anything at any time
There is a myth out there that we humans buy into and are trapped by, called “the myth of continuity”…that’s when we assume that because things are “this way” today, things will be “this way” ever thus…we assume relationships don’t need tending, or we assume our skills are always 100%, or in our case, we assume our jobs are permanent…this is a big no – no. There are no guarantees, so it’s up to you to live in the present and be ready for anything at any time.
• Keep excellent records
This is one way to be ready – keep a detailed notebook ( at home, not at work) where you note the projects you’ve led or played a role on, any successes you’ve had, metrics you’ve met, any notes of praise from superiors, etc. This will help form the basis of any formal written documents you submit during the “re – interview”…the key is to write in this notebook every week, not every six months, or the night before your “re-interview.”
• Have a cogent way of explaining yourself
You never know when you’ll be asked to justify why you should be kept on board, so think of ways to explain your job duties in terms of how you benefit the company in a few sentences…if you can’t explain it well, they can’t understand it well. Treat this like a serious job interview, because that’s what it is. BONUS TIP: Find out what is important to the new regime first, and THEN talk about yourself in relation to that.
• Be positive
Mindset is key. Be enthusiastic, and grateful for the chance to make your own case…so many people never get the chance, and it’s no wonder they feel angry and ripped off. In this position, you are luckier than most, so make the most of it.
The bottom line is that while you can do everything right and still lose your position, being prepared ahead of time will help you respond appropriately…obviously, being unprepared leads to panic, flailing, and certain failure.
Note to my readers: I know many of you reading this have gone through these ordeals, and have had some holiday seasons ruined by the stress caused by things you can’t control. I would implore anyone who is suffering right now to talk things over with a trusted friend, colleague, coach, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional…please don’t take your stress out on your family or yourself…there will be a brighter tomorrow, I promise.
Wishing you a blessed holiday season and new year,
Thomas Patrick Chuna is a certified Five O’Clock Club job search coach.
The Five O’Clock Club is a nationally recognized outplacement firm with a proven job search methodology that helps job seekers get better jobs faster.
The Five O’Clock Club also provides affordable, humane outplacement services to companies who care about the well being of their employees.
Tom is also an experienced independent recruiter specializing in molecular oncology research scientists & MD’s.