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Can Losing Your Job Be Helpful? - Ask An Outplacement Consultant

Image of two succesful business people conducting an interview to hire their next employee.jpegLosing your job can be devasting. I know because I have been there – more than once. The experience can also help transform you in many positive ways. It can bring much-needed self-reflection and insights.

Working with an outplacement consultant can be a blessing in disguise. You can take a reflective look at your career and priorities and get expert advice on how to build an effective long term career plan.

I revisited a blog post that I wrote in 2013 about the positive impacts of outplacement and wanted to reshare it. The blog was inspired by a Harvard Business Review article “What Losing My Job Taught Me About Leading” written by Douglas Conant, the CEO from Campbell's Soup.

In the blog, Doug Conant shares his personal experience of how going thru outplacement helped shape him into becoming the leader that he became.

First, Doug Conant’s introduction to outplacement came as he unexpectedly lost his job due to a new management change. As he described it:

Our company had recently changed ownership and things had been a little chaotic, but I still felt good about my ability to contribute. But once I was in the Vice President’s office, I learned that my position had been eliminated and that I needed to pack up my belongings and leave the building immediately. In other words, I was fired. Ten years of my career was over in a snap. I was devastated and I was bitter. I went home to my wife, my two very small children, and my one very large mortgage… feeling every bit the victim.

Then Doug discusses how he was given outplacement by a: 

“crusty New Englander who didn’t tolerate a “victim” mentality for a minute”

With the help of his outplacement consultant, Doug discovered that:

“losing my job became a valuable learning experience about what leadership should be. For some, these thoughts may constitute a “blinding glimpse of the obvious.” But I have found them extraordinarily powerful in their simplicity”.

Some of the valuable lessons that he learned from his outplacement experience were:

  • Do not have a "victim" mentality - losing yourself in self-pity can be a burden and weight which will stop you from moving forward on rebuilding your career, life, and self-esteem.
  • Connecting with people by being fully present - listen with intent and purpose with the goal of complete understanding versus how you are going to guide the conversation.
  • "Honor" all people who cross your path - think about the people who have honored you along your life journey and challenge yourself to become more like them
  • When someone does help you, acknowledge it - get the names of everyone you interact with - from the receptionist to the CEO - and thank them for their help.
  • Always be building your network - unfortunately for many, they only begin building a network when they need one. By always building and nurturing your network you will be fully prepared if a transition every happens to you.

The expert advice that Doug Conant received during outplacement helped him build a very successful career.

Outplacement does help transitioned employees rebuild - re-focus - and renew themselves on the path towards successful careers.