Job Searching – Allowing for the Inevitable Crisis

Don't be like an

Don’t be like an ostrich with your head in the sand – you have to keep an eye on things

I wish it weren’t so, but we live in a world where precious little is guaranteed to us, anymore. Once upon a time, you could join a company and stay with it your entire career. No more.

Job changes are no doubt stressful, and they show up in a number of ways on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale.

Whether you’re let go from a position, or you experience a change in responsibilities… or you end up relocating or changing your living structure to adapt, work-related changes are nothing to take lightly.

Here’s the scale, which I’ve emphasized with job-related picks:

Life event Life change units
Death of a spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Imprisonment 63
Death of a close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Dismissal from work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Gain a new family member 39
Business readjustment 39
Change in financial state 38
Death of a close friend 37
Change to different line of work 36
Change in frequency of arguments 35
Major mortgage 32
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Change in responsibilities at work 29
Child leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Spouse starts or stops work 26
Beginning or end school 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in working hours or conditions 20
Change in residence 20
Change in schools 20
Change in recreation 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 18
Minor mortgage or loan 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in number of family reunions 15
Change in eating habits 15
Vacation 13
Major Holiday 12
Minor violation of law 11

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).
Score <150: Only have a slight risk of illness.

Without getting into all the scoring, just at a quick glance, you can see how life changes related to work can impact you — and add up, to where you’re at risk of illness… and some say a shortened life.

Without being melodramatic, yes, I think we can all agree that changing jobs is nerve-wracking.

Especially when you’re not expecting it to happen.

I recall a time, about 15 years ago, when I got a call from a recruiter who was reaching out with job training opportunities. That was strange. I was well-established in my line of work, and I couldn’t see any reason to train for something different.

“I’m so sorry about your situation,” the recruiter said.

“What situation?” I asked.

“Oh, the RIF (reduction in force) that’s coming. I’m sorry you’re on the list.”

RIF?!” I exclaimed. “What list?!” My heart started to pound, and bullets of sweat started streaming down my torso.

The recruiter was silent.

“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” I said, trying to keep my cool. “Are you saying I’m going to get laid off?”

“Well…” she continued tentatively. “Actually…”

In the ensuing minutes of conversation, I learned some incredibly valuable lessons — how the RIF system works (at least in Massachusetts), as well as how much recruiters actually¬† new about the ebb and flow of the employment market. As it turns out, unbeknownst to me — and totally out of the blue, without any prior indication — I actually was on a preliminary reduction-in-force list. And the Department of Labor knew it. And they told recruiters, because there were training dollars available for people who were caught up in downsizing.

As it turns out, the list was purely preliminary and was apparently accidentally leaked. And my name wasn’t on the final list. So, I was spared. Which was good. (Being let go is never ever a good thing to have on your record.) And another good thing — it was a wake-up call I sorely needed. I was a little too comfortable in my position. I was a little too complacent in my work. I needed to revisit my resume — and sooner, rather than later.

And I needed to be ready, no matter what. Because about 15 years ago, just after 9-11, the economy took a major hit — and I never in all my years prior to that would have guessed that my career path would be impacted by a terrorist attack, of all things.

But it happens. You know it. I know it. We all know it. And yet, we’re woefully unprepared for the inevitable crisis or two when they suddenly emerge. We think we’re in a good place, we think our contributions are valued — and maybe they are. But on a larger meta-scale, things change. The economy shifts. Consumer sentiment tanks. Or our industry of choice is upstaged by something newer, shinier, more efficient, more attractive.

Just like me, sitting on the call with that recruiter, we can get blind-sided. And it’s no fun. It’s pretty terrible, actually. But it happens. And while we can’t control every single factor and variable in our career, there are some things we can do to improve our chances — and one of those things is connecting with the right recruiters.

Who can provide insider’s insights into what’s happening in the job market, and what your options are.

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