You're over 50. You're making a bunch of dough. You're well-respected and good at what you do. Then one day, you get the call to go into your boss' office and there sits someone from HR. You of course know what that means. So they talk, you see their lips moving, but basically cannot comprehend what they are saying, words like COBRA, severance, benefits, sign here and other things like that temporarily pierce through your deafness.
Your stomach is tight and you wobble out down the hall, fighting back tears, your mind going a million miles a minute. You get your purse, give a fake smile and say that everything is fine. Finally, you drive home in a daze.
If this has ever happened to you, then you know every detail of what I just wrote. And if it hasn't, then consider yourself lucky ... or maybe not.
Once it happens, you realize you won't die. You will not only survive, but in a short amount of time, you will start to breathe again and actually exhale.
And if it hasn't happened, many women have a lot of fear that one day it might, so they don't take risks for fear of jeopardizing anything. Forget 'Leaning In'; they are flying under the radar just to keep afloat. Making waves might lead to severe repercussions if things don't go right. So many times doing things the 'safe way' has replaced innovation in the workforce.
FACT: There is no job security anymore. It doesn't matter how long you've been at a place or how good a job you did. It doesn't matter how many nights and weekends you worked or how many times you chose work over family. The reality is times have changed and many times it is someone who doesn't even know you is simply cutting costs and getting rid of names in boxes on an org chart. Whatever the reason, it doesn't really matter.
Here are five suggestions to think about doing if that fateful day should ever come. Some may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at what people do when they're in shock or an emotional state.
1. Don't use Facebook or social media saying that you just got fired, laid off or anything.
You can use social media later to your advantage when you ready to actually 'announce' something
2. Allow yourself to go through a mourning phase.
If you've been at a company for a long time, it's a loss. Not just a loss of income, but more importantly, a loss of friends and your identity.
3. Don't dump all your fears and crazy on your spouse.
Losing your job often becomes the only thing you talk about and sometimes can actually cause big fights and resentment with the person whose support you need the very most. Reach out to your friends, your therapist or a life coach.
4. Get that resume up to date FAST and make it easy to read.
If you're not good at doing it yourself, hire someone. But that resume is your "interview before the interview." Posting it on LinkedIn and starting the search will begin to restore your self-esteem if you "look good on paper."
5. Don't send out a mass email to your entire database saying you left your job.
Before you leave, insist on an auto-reply message with your personal email address for at least three months. Wait until your consulting company is set up (always a good interim move) and send the email with your new contact info.
Setting up your own Consulting Company is not as hard as you may think. The hours are just as long, but it's a different kind of schedule. Less time in meetings and much more time working. And who knows... you may in fact begin to love your new life and wonder what took you so long.