About to get fired?
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
*With the recent news about Deutsche Bank I thought it might be useful to reshare some of my "Redundancy Preparation" series. Please feel free to like and share this content with any of your friends at DB who may find themselves in a difficult and challenging situation. Hopefully, it can provide some practical tips and ways to look ahead.*
The signs have been popping up for months. Business has been slowing down. Your boss has been hurriedly preparing confidential spreadsheets and running around with a worried look on his face. Your colleagues avoid eye contact with you. You notice other people on your team taking long lunch breaks, darting into conference rooms for personal calls and leaving work early for doctor’s appointments. Rumors fly through the halls and everyone is distracted. Should you be worried?
If this scenario sounds familiar, then now is the time to get prepared. News of an impending redundancy exercise can be scary, stressful and incredibly distracting. Instead of sitting around wondering when it will be your turn and calculating your dwindling bank balance, focus on what you can control. These tips will make you more prepared for the future if and when the axe finally falls.
Personal – calendar & contacts
If you are an office worker, you may not be able to go back to your desk after you’ve been terminated. Remember all of those photos you have on your hard drive or the personal weekend plans you have on your work calendar? It will all be inaccessible once you walk out the door, so take a few precautionary measures to make sure you have what you need.
If you keep track of your entire life on your office calendar, now is the time to consider a clean break between personal and professional. Gmail or any multitude of apps should do the trick. Think about your contact list—are most of your friends listed in your work email account or are there business contacts there who are actually friends? Spend some time organizing that information so your friends don’t think you’ve fallen off the face of the earth if you lose their contact details. You may have personal files on your PC too. Do a quick audit to figure out what you need and how to get it.
Professional – payslips & performance reviews
At larger organizations, you can access your HR data (such as payslips and performance reviews) electronically through an internal HR system. However, once you leave, you’ll no longer have immediate access. If there is an “employee self-service” option in the HR system, download your payslips and performance reviews now. In general, I’d recommend that you download the last three months of your payslips and your last two or three performance reviews (assuming you have a semi-annual performance review cycle). A new employer will likely ask you for salary proof and it’s a good idea to have copies of your performance reviews (particularly if they are positive!) so you can remember the work that you did and have some evidence of your performance. If you have plans to make any major purchases soon (such as buying a home), it might be useful to download up to 12 months of payslips, but that is up to you.
While your colleagues are busy gossiping about the impending layoffs, make good use of your time. Reflect on your career with your organization and assess what you’ve done well. What were your successes? Think about big projects that you led, money-saving ideas that you implemented, teams that you grew, etc. Be specific. Then write it all down, providing details about the scope, challenges, impact, etc. You can highlight these items when you start interviewing for your next job and use this list to update your CV. Do this self-reflection while you are still on the job. It will be much easier to think of examples now than it will be two months after you leave. You can also make use of your emails, files and past performance reviews to jog your memory on your various accomplishments. Time and distance can cloud your judgement and make you doubt your accomplishments on the job. Think about it when it is still fresh.
Take a cue from your colleagues who are already on the job hunt. Spiff up your CV and your Linkedin profile (using some of the accomplishments you highlighted above). As always, get a trusted friend or mentor to review your CV before you start applying for roles. If you are worried about your boss or coworkers seeing changes to your Linkedin profile, edit the settings so that updates are not sent to your network. Here in Hong Kong, it’s very common to use a recruitment agency to assist with a job search—now is the time to start making contact. If you don’t know any headhunters, ask friends for referrals. Take the recruiter out for coffee and try to get some information about market trends. Is your sector hot or over saturated? What key skills are hiring managers looking for? You may not be ready to start interviewing, but knowledge is power, so prioritize these discussions, particularly if you’ve been out of the market for a while. Networking is also critical to finding a new job, so dust off those contact lists, rejoin professional societies and make time on your calendar for lunches, drinks and coffees!
Consider how you will cope financially if you are made redundant. Budget how long you can survive without an income and start to make some tough choices. Curtail your discretionary spending (such as eating out and entertainment) and review your fixed costs (rent, school tuition, phone, etc.). Speak to those closest to you so that a layoff is not a complete surprise (particularly if you are the sole breadwinner). Managing the expectations of your wife, parents or kids will help minimize the shock and ensure everyone pulls together, particularly around managing household expenses.
As you plan your budget, it will be important for you to understand how much money you might receive in your redundancy package. Next week, I’ll discuss some typical components you'll find in a redundancy package.
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Renee Conklin is an HR Leader who writes about talent attraction, employee engagement and the future of work. She is the founder of RC HR Consulting.
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