Focus on the future, not the firing

2013-06-02T16:04:00Z Focus on the future, not the firingBy BOB MOULESONG Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 02, 2013 4:04 pm  • 

In mid-May, the Department of Workforce Development reported the jobless rate in Northwest Indiana dropped all the way to 9.1 percent from the 10.3 percent number in March. At the same time, they also announced that the state rate decreased to 8.5 percent from the 8.7 percent rate in March.

That was the largest one-month decrease in more than a year. Figures from the Department of Workforce Development show about 251,500 Hoosiers were unemployed in March, while 2.9 million had jobs.

And while that is great news for Hoosiers everywhere, there are still pockets of the region and the state where downsizing is still actively taking place.

Downsizing is a process by which employers cut back on the number of workers needed to produce a certain amount of goods or services. Downsizing is a cost-cutting move, and not necessarily related to the worker's ability or performance record.

Employment experts estimate that at least 250,000 workers are terminated nationally through downsizing each year. The words that strike fear in all working persons -- fired, terminated, laid off, let go, restructured, dismissed, downsized, right sized -- all mean only one thing in the end - unemployment.

While all terminated workers find losing their job extremely hard to deal with, most career experts say the best thing to do is get right back into the job market, rather than sit around being discouraged. Downsized workers are encouraged to look at their termination as a chance to start anew with a better opportunity.

Workers who have been downsized are often caught off-guard. As a result, they may not be ready to start looking for work at a moment's notice. These steps should help a downsized worker turn the bad news around and start a journey towards the good news of a new job or career.

· Decide if a new career path or career change is needed. If a worker wasn't really happy with their past job, now is the time to think about a career change. A self-assessment or an assessment down with Workforce one can help someone determine what type of work they would enjoy and also excel at. There are also several free career assessment tests online.

· Perform a resume tune-up. Whether or not their resume is current, job candidates should take the time to update it. Consider adding key accomplishments and transferrable skills from the most recent job. These can be positioned at the top of the resume to downplay the downsizing.

· Candidates should have their resume critiqued by someone in their network. This serves two purposes - constructive criticism that will improve the resume, and showing someone in the network the skill set the candidate has. A career services office at the local college can also help with this service for alumni.

· Network, network, network. A candidate should tell everyone that they are in the job market again. U.S. Bureau of Labor figures indicate that many workers have lost their jobs involuntarily, so this will not be a surprise. A network should include family, friends, former coworkers, former bosses, neighbors, friends of friends - just about anyone.

· The decision to be upfront about being downsized is critical. Job candidates should never come across like they are hiding something on their resume. Everyone in the working world knows how tough things are right now. The job candidate should list their most recent job, including start and end dates, and the fact that they were downsized. Focus the resume on accomplishments and achievements.

· It is important to be prepared with an answer when an interviewer asks why the last job didn't work out. Candidates need to be able to articulate what happened on the last job, and what lessons were learned from the experience. Never blame a former employer.

· Make sure it is clear on the resume if relocation is an option. Don't waste your time or a potential employer's.

· This is an excellent time for a job candidate to update their personal and professional references. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the dismissal from the previous job, a candidate may have a good reference from their former employer. All references should be contacted and asked if they are still willing to be a reference. It is extremely important to have references that will rave about accomplishments and abilities.

· Be prepared to work. It's a cliché, but looking for a new job is now full-time job. Stay focused and accomplish something every day.

· Be prepared for rejection. Worker who have recently been downsized tend to be a little extra sensitive. Remember that there is always a degree of rejection in any job search. Keep looking forward.

Sometimes being fired or downsized is just the motivation needed to make a change in a careers or a life. As hard as it may be, and it is hard, those who have been downsized need to get over it and move on.

The focus needs to be on the skills and experience, not the firing. It is those skills that need to be visible to the next potential employer.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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