Companies of all sizes seem to be cutting larger and larger swaths through their employee ranks every week, turning thousands of otherwise happy lives upside down. It is a terrifying thing to lose your job. I know. It happened to me less than twenty years ago, when I was let go from a highly paid advertising job in a general cutback. And I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. Abject fear. Terror. I had a modest severance, but our household was way too far in debt even before I was let go, and my wife wasn't working, as we were already expecting our second child. We calculated three months, maximum, before we would begin missing mortgage payments. What to do?
Last week when US Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of birds a few minutes after taking off from LaGuardia the captain of that flight experienced his own moment of terror. Not enough altitude to return without power to LaGuardia. No alternate airport available. No jet had ever made a successful water landing. Four or five minutes max to make something happen. What to do?
The pilot kept his cool. I think terror can sharpen the senses, provided you don't let it turn into panic. The pilot concentrated on what he knew he could do. He knew he had to avoid populated areas, and he could do that. He chose the best option of all the alternatives, and he didn't doubt for one second that he would succeed. It would do him no good to dwell on the consequences of not succeeding, so he only worried about how to succeed. And he operated methodically, step by step. Make a wide turn. Maintain enough altitude. Ensure the aircraft is under control. "Prepare for impact."
Losing a job may not be as life-threatening as losing both engines on a climb-out, but to land safely after a job loss it's still necessary to keep your cool. Concentrate on what you know you can do. Think carefully about the alternatives that are immediately available. Make rational calculations. And above all, continue to believe in your ability. Be confident, because confidence can boost competence. Don't lose sleep at night thinking about not succeeding. Think only about how to succeed.
When you are let go, the fastest route to getting back on the earning track is (1) conquer the fear, and (2) concentrate on what you know you can do. What I did personally, and what I would recommend to anyone who loses their job today, is: Concentrate solely on the "how" of getting back to work, whether you go for a full-time job or a series of assignments. Review all possibilities, eliminating nothing. And take a methodical approach, step by step. Look for connections, through old colleagues, distant friends, online connections, and social networks.
There are more of these today than ever before. We at 1to1 Media have launched our own jobs board to connect marketing, sales, and service professionals around the world with likely opportunities. So rank-order your opportunities. Contact them. Keep listing and contacting more of them every day. Follow up old contacts. Listen carefully for leads, and pursue each one. Every completed phone conversation is a small victory, every face-to-face meeting a campaign won. And prepare for impact.