We are all in this changing and challenging economy. If you are lucky enough to receive a severance package when downsized, it is imperative that you make a plan for the money and also for your job search.
When Dan’s employer passed out pink slips, he got a nice severance package. Two weeks pay for every year of service and he had been with the company for 20 years. Forty weeks of pay seemed like a lot at the time, so Dan took a few weeks off to do nothing. Then he got a little busy and decided to buy a new computer and take advantage of the outplacement package offered through his former employer. The outplacement firm helped Dan with his resume and gave him some general job hunting tips, but they were not set up to give him personal one-on-one coaching nor able to help him with how to transition into another career where he might not have direct experience.
Since he had not looked for a job in 20 years, he played a little in the job hunting websites, but mostly found himself picking up the kids from school, taking his elderly mother to the doctor and even doing the weekly shopping. Instead of establishing an hour or two where he focused on his career campaign, he found himself watching TV, reading a few novels, and then found himself sucked into the black hole of playing computer games until the wee hours of the morning.
While Dan “played” in an effort to give himself a break from reality, his stress level continued to grow. By the time Dan came to see me, he was sitting on one week of severance pay before it was gone. Obviously, he was more than just a little panicked, and although his one good career decision was to seek out professional help, unfortunately, he had wasted valuable time and money.
If you have recently received a severance package and don’t want to make the same mistakes as Dan, the following questions will help you sort it out:
Severance Package Question 1:
I received a severance package, but can I really afford to take time off?
That is the million dollar question. Can you afford to take the time off. Look at your situation and your financial obligations. Keep in mind that the average time to find a job right now can be at least 6 months. (This also depends on the level of demand the market has on your career target.)
Divide the severance pay into weekly allotments by gauging the time you anticipate being out of work. This is your “budget.” Remember that for each week you don’t have to live on severance and can secure work, the remaining severance is now bankable and can be dropped into savings for that rainy day. If you really need the time off to decompress and clear your head, go ahead and take time off. However, don’t let you “vacation” creep into more time off than a week. Decide to come back from “vacation” refreshed and ready to go to work on your job search.
Severance Package Question 2:
Even with a severance package, should I consider a stop gap job?
If may be necessary to find something to stop the hemorrhaging. Stop gap jobs, in general, are low paying jobs that force you to take deep cuts into your budget. At times it could require you to make some life changing decisions. However, with a severance package to help offset the lower pay, this may be an option.
Do not lose focus that your real job is still to find a job. One of the lessons I have learned in life is that if you are not hard on yourself when you need to be, situations and often life itself will take you down a long a painful road of experiences you could have avoided. Urgency and determination should be your friend!
In the job hunt, continue to have a clear target. Employers are more interested in an applicant who knows what he or she wants and where their expertise can help that organization than an applicant that is “open to lots of things.” Clearly targeting an industry or company and the functions you will perform will help you keep focus. You want to be the aspirin to their headache!
If you do not have an idea of where you want to be in three to five years, seek out a career coach who can help you focus your efforts right away.
Severance Package Question 3:
Now that I have the severance package and I am not so pressured, how do I go about developing my job hunting skills as quickly as possible? Click here to visit my website and find several tools to help you develop your job hunting skills. You can listen to an MP3 presentation of From Fiction to Fact – Dispelling Job Hunting Myths. You can also find other tools that will help you set yourself apart as a valuable contributor.
Severance Package Question 4:
Is it really smart to waste part of the severance package to pay for help in my job search?
Some job seekers need the direction and support. A coach can give them that. Most appreciate the moral support received from an unbiased, profession resource. So use this tool if it works for you.
Others look for support groups where they can leave feeling encouraged. Be careful not to fall into the trap that being busy and going to every networking event is a wise use of your time. You can only implement so much at a time and you must find the balance for you. Some job seekers find comfort in always being the underdog and are driven to attend meetings rather than looking inside to ask the hard questions or seek out professional help.
Coaching can shave off time looking for a job by helping you get focused so you can find work faster and probably find a better job. Being coached through salary negotiations can yield thousands of extra dollars to you not to mention there are 55 other things a coach is aware of that you’ll want to evaluate so that you do not leave money on the table.
If you have networked in the past into a job, you now have a quality network of professionals that often can be the key to success in your new found position.
To keep from wasting your severance package, use all available resources during this challenging and developmental time. Do not give up the search! When you find that new job before the severance runs out, you have the option of saving it, or taking that decompression vacation to be clear thinking and refreshed to start your next new adventure!