Losing a job can be extremely stressful for most people especially in India where jobs define our identity. More than the financial loss, losing a job impacts our self-esteem and confidence and can lead to feelings of depression, anger and loss of purpose. This, in turn, can make us reclusive. The best way to handle this is to talk to family and well-wishers and give ourselves some time to sort out our emotions and feel strong and positive again. Positive feelings expand our ability to problem solve. Then it’s about staying focussed on seeking options, reaching out to our network and broadening that, and acing those interviews. Any spare time is an opportunity to spend time with family, pursue a hobby, read, volunteer, consult or freelance. If we stop believing in ourselves, the interviewer will pick that up. So the key is to keep our spirits up, and be matter-of-fact in responding to any questions regarding the job loss.
If you’re the kind who has been putting off financial planning, atleast when you see the early signs, and have some advance notice of an impending job loss, make sure you take the following steps:
Ensure that your cash reserves last you till you find another job (which could take a while).
To manage finances better, first make a list of all expenses and cut down on what is non-essential. A holiday is fine; instead of a luxury vacation make it a budget holiday, after all it’s about spending quality time with, relaxing and enjoying in a beautiful location; and this can be done closer to home base.
Cut down or eliminate the use of your credit card. You don’t want to get hit by an exorbitant penalty if you’re unable to make the payment on time.
Monthly EMI outflow for your home, vehicle or any other loan needs to be brought down, do consult with your bank. Flexibility and options do exist, also if you require a loan.
Explore all possibilities of continuing the flow of some income. Explore whether your current company can provide you interim employment, where you get paid for specific projects. Make it an offer they can’t refuse by putting your skin in the game and pegging part of the earnings to superior and timely delivery. Get references and recommendations.
Consider freelancing by reaching out to your network and supplementing that effort by directly calling in to potential clients. Any job, even if part time will help you contribute, earn, and feel good. It’ll also expand your options and expose you to diverse experiences. Who knows what may open up for you may be beyond what you imagined.
More than anything else, remember that permanency or job stability is a thing of the past. Whether you see a job loss coming or not, always be prepared for any eventuality and have a Plan B. Maintain great relationships and build and nurture your network. Also going out of your way to be of assistance to people ensures that you keep building goodwill, and can reach out for support in future. Develop another skill/interest that you can fall back on if your current role/ skill becomes obsolete. Also develop broader general management or cross functional skills and relationships. When the going is touch and decisions on who are to be retained are made, your ability to straddle different roles, relationships you’ve built, and goodwill you’ve earned will hold you in good stead.
Finally do what it takes to secure that aspirational full-time role by being open to location and role, and being more reasonable while negotiating compensation.
The author is Senior Partner, Hunt Partners