As I put down my thoughts on paper for this weekend, I am sure it is not one of the best of articles you want to spend your time reading. It does not seem to motivate reading about how to prepare yourself for a possible job loss neither does it pretend to be inspirational. It is however, as uninviting as it may seem to be, necessary that you indulge me to quickly think through the prospects and challenges of seeing your job come to a close. With the harsh economic moments the world is going through, reports about job losses have become a common feature in our bulletins both locally and globally.
Let us reflect on these experiences through the motions that Jean had to go through over the last couple of months. Having worked in the NGO sector for the last 5 years, she had been on a relatively stable job serving as a manager in charge of the Sanitation Project for over 3 years. However, as years passed by, the projects seemed to be getting closer to the end faster than expected and true to her fears, the donors indicated clearly that they had no intentions of renewing the grant. With 3 months to the end of the project, Jean was sure her job was ending with the third cheque. This had been a distress thought through the previous 6 months as she was sure she needed to quickly get space onboard another project or else she would risk being unemployed for a duration unknown to anyone.
Job losses occur as a result of several factors. It could be due to poor performance of the company in the market or change of tastes by the clients. It could also be a result of more aggressive competitors or the company is ejected by the sitting government for being considered antigovernment in its agenda. Regardless of the cause of the job loss, it is important to consider ways in which we can prepare for the loss.
It is always safe to imagine that the job you hold is not permanent, even though you hold a contract indicated permanent and pensionable. No job is permanent any longer in this world. With this thought in mind, always seek to develop critical networks with people in your field of work. Keep the networks active through regular communication of email, phone and social media. Let your peers in the sector of work have you in their minds always so that should you have a need to contact them for support in job search they do not struggle to remember how you look like when you make that distress call.
In the event you are sure a job loss is imminent, either by way of project closure or relocation of your employer, remember to position yourself early enough for job search. This is a hard time for both the employer and the employee. The employer risks the challenge of having key staff departing long before the project ends hence affecting the quality of project closure and this can negatively impact on all the great work achieved till the close of the project. However, for staff, it is never settling to wait until the last moment for you to start seeking for a job. On average, it takes about 3 to 6 months to settle on a new job, though this depends on the place you are and the field of work. The earlier you start the process, the better for you as you will seek for an alternative job under minimal pressure.
Finally, as you consider a possible job loss, evaluate your competitive advantages in the job market and enhance efforts of making yourself more marketable and visible. Seek the services of a professional for support in personal branding and start to market yourself in a more targeted way. Start early to pursue courses that give you a competitive edge over the competition and not just registering for a masters programme like everybody else. A unique professional course may just be what you need to stand out.
By now, I hope talking about job losses no longer sounds a taboo topic like preparing for ones demise. Unless we talk about preparing for possible losses, we will keep on talking about managing distressed ex-workers. This can be mitigated by proper prior preparation and planning.