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Rant: How To Avoid Being Laid Off

November 2nd, 2011

I was surfing LinkedIn groups last week for some inspiration, and I got some.

There is a post from a state workforce development professional who wrote “How I avoided Being Laid Off.”  It worked for her, and I mean her no disrespect by my contrarian viewpoint.  But I needed to share this.

On the LinkedIn Group she wrote “how to avoid being laid off,” which is different than the title of her post.

I actually agree with her four points (read the post for her details):

  1. Make yourself valuable,
  2. Work to increase your marketability,
  3. Stay positive and build positivity,
  4. Keep busy!

I speak around the country and meet tens of thousands of job seekers regularly, through LinkedIn, through JibberJobber, and in person.

I meet people who are AMAZING, and did amazing work, and were valuable, and even rainmakers.  I meet people who owned their own companies, and still lost their job (company closed).  I meet people who make the world go round – people who invented technology we use today, people who are famous in their circles.

And somehow, they still end up on the chair at one of my presentations.

They were valuable, and all that stuff.

But things happen. Things happen outside of our control.

Whether the company does something wrong and you all get ENRONed, or a boss changes and the new boss brings in their own people, or the sales team misses their goals and you had to get cut… there are a hundred and one reasons why losing your job is not in your control.

The funny thing is, I have a very high Locus of Control, which means I believe that I can control pretty much anything that happens… but I learned to let this go.  I learned that if we lose our job, if we are laid off, it’s not because we did something wrong, or because we suck.

I also learned that we can control our attitude, even if we can’t control whether we get to keep drawing a salary from our last employer.

I learned there are other ways to make money (hence, the 101 Alternatives to a Real Job book).

But don’t … please don’t sit there for hours thinking “what if I only worked harder?”  “What if I only networked more?” “What if I ________?”

It’s not worth it.

Control your attitude, and move on to the next thing.

9 Comments »

9 responses to “Rant: How To Avoid Being Laid Off”

  1. Nick Gilham says:

    Great points. I agree with those author’s tips, but they are majorly misguided if they believe that everyone can avoid being laid off.

    As you said, companies close and bad things happen to good people. It is the way of the world. The only thing within our control is our attitude and that is going to make all the difference when the pink slip arrives.

  2. Scot Herrick says:

    Almost all of the “Never get laid off!” articles out there completely miss the fact that there are different kinds of layoffs and the ONLY one you have any influence on is when there is a partial reduction in force and your ranking in the group is high enough to miss the line between staying and leaving.

    Shutting down a location? If you are there, no matter how good, you’re done. Closing a business? If you are in the division, no matter how good you are, you’re done.

    You’re right, Jason — you can only control your attitude. And, I’d add, you can only control the work you do to get business results in the job you are doing. The results are important — either because it could be the difference in staying or leaving if you are in a partial reduction in force layoff, or because you have results to show other potential employers.

  3. Great advice Jason. Thanks for the insightful comments.

  4. Love this post. It brings me back to the M&Ms (Mindset & Mechanics). One without the other = a flat tire on the bicycle that’s taking you where you want to go. Networking, resumes, interviewing, etc. = Mechanics. Attitude, perspective, openness to change, decisions, choices, willingness to experiment, “getting” to work vs. “having” to work, etc. = Mindset.

  5. Rita Carey says:

    It’s great to feel in control of our destiny and so many of the highly qualified job seekers that I meet have believed that if they did all of the right things (academically, ongoing professional development, ever ready to help the boss in a tight situation, collaborative, etc.,etc.) they would have steady, meaningful employment. While all of those actions/attributes are very important, there is a part of life over which we have no control. The DANGER in believing that we are in control is that we blame ourselves when things go wrong. I like to emphasize to my workshop/webinar participants that it is not their fault…and I urge them to believe it. Self-blame is debilitating, reduces confidence and uses emotional energy. No time for that!

  6. Jason Alba says:

    @Rita – I’ve thought about that a lot … as I speak to, say, 10,000 people in a year, I wonder how many of them because it IS their fault… and if it is their fault, they need to recognize that and figure it out.

    But there are so many who are not at fault, and they do internalize it to the point of being dangerous… thanks for your thoughts :)

  7. JM Auron says:

    I agree! As a Resume Writer, I’ve seen many clients – particularly in the last couple of tough years – who have had great careers, and contributed significantly to their organizations. Frequently, being laid off has had absolutely nothing to do with performance – it’s just difficult times.

    Now, getting a new job after a decade or more in a leadership role with a great company is enough stress. Beating oneself up, asking what could have been done differently – that just makes the situation that much challenging – and doesn’t contribute to the tasks at hand.

    Again – great post! I’ll pass it along to clients…

  8. Daniel says:

    Amen! I’ve grown to accept the axiom from “The Godfather”: “It ain’t personal; it’s just business.”

    Our biggest competition is ourselves.

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