Getting Laid Off – Taking the High Road

It’s not every day that I meet with a client  (Jennifer) who got laid off and is okay with it. Today was such a day.

These are troubling times for many.  Losing one’s job is no picnic, especially when you have two small children and a mortgage to pay. Yet there is something about being grounded in who you are and in the reputation you’ve built so far in your career.

Many are understandably angry and scared when they get the news that their position has been eliminated. Surprisingly enough, Jennifer wasn’t one of them.

Here are a few hints as to why Jennifer is okay.  First of all, Jennifer has been building her career portability for 15 years.  She is in the energy industry and has purposely been volunteering within her organization to work on the most highly visible renewable energy projects – even though they were risky. For example, she launched a renewable energy products initiative.

Sure enough, since the renewable energy project is not considered the company’s core business, the business unit is being dissolved because of the economic crisis.  Jennifer was offered another job inside the company – the one she had prior to this exciting role. Yep, it’s definitely a good feeling to have “another job” in your pocket and a choice.

Jennifer slept on it for one night.  When she talked with her husband, he agreed that it didn’t make sense for her to go “backwards” and take a demotion – and most importantly, do work she didn’t enjoy. (By the way, Jennifer’s husband is a stay-at-home Dad).

Jennifer called her boss and informed her that she would not be accepting this position. The boss was surprised. At first, Jennifer panicked a bit and thought “What did I do?”.  But after a couple of days, she has concluded that she did the right thing. She has been building momentum in her career and working towards a place in Clean Energy. If she stepped backwards, what would this do to her momentum?  How would that position her for moving forward?  It’s a moment of truth.

As a matter of fact, the company President called her and told her that he admired her integrity because she did not take the other position, just for the sake of having a job now – only to leave it a few months later when she found something else.  Many colleagues inside the company have praised her courage and her integrity.

Some may say Jennifer is crazy – but she certainly is leaving the company with a strong and positive reputation, and many people in her network who would be happy to help her in any way they can. Sounds smart to me.

Oh yes – by the way.  One BIG reason why Jennifer is in a position to make this choice is that she has diligently saved over the past several years and has built a comfortable financial cushion for herself.  This gives her the freedom of some time. Smart moves, Jennifer.

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