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Laid off? A guide to moving to a new job

By Divakar Kaza, Outlook Money
August 11, 2009 12:01 IST
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Repackage and reposition yourself in terms of skills and experience and make your CV appealing to a larger audience, says Divakar Kaza.

You could get pink-slipped for a host of reasons: recession, project not taking off, restructuring, inability to adjust to new workplace, or plain bad chemistry with the boss.

Being handed over the pink slip is a contemporary organisational reality. It can hit anyone. Nowadays, there is no stigma attached to being pink slipped.

A gap in the resume was an absolute no-no a decade ago, but in the more turbulent world of today, a gap between jobs is acceptable if there is a credible story to back it up.

It starts and (also ends) with a call from HR or your manager (or, worse still, both) for a meeting on a Friday evening (people invariably get fired on Fridays as the weekend settles the dust).

The meeting is never to 'negotiate', where you can get the decision revoked. The decision has already been taken and the meeting is to 'communicate'. Ranting and raving is only going to annoy your managers for making a difficult task more complex.

Hold on tight to your feelings and respond in a composed manner.

You can reap concessions by doing your manager the favour of accepting the decision with equanimity and not making the process unpleasant.

The first issue is the end date. If your notice period is three months, insist on it being honoured. If it is one month, gentle prodding can get it extended. Ditto with company goodies such as the mobile phone, car, company-leased accommodation and laptop.

Work your way to hang on to them for as long as you can. Insist on getting commitment on all of them on paper (even a mail will do). Get these issues sorted out in the first meeting itself.

Find out if you can continue as a consultant on a retainer. Companies fall for it as they can tap your talent and inside knowledge at 40-50 per cent of the earlier cost. Seek their more extended network to look for alternatives.

The next step is to work out the parting line: a story that the company and you will communicate to all. Whatever be the real reason, arrive at a common story. It should be as close to reality as possible.

Next comes the difficult business of job hunting. There are sectors that are continuing to hire -- telecom, insurance and pharma, for example.

Repackage and reposition yourself in terms of skills and experience and make your CV appealing to a larger audience. Look beyond your last industry.

If you were in retail for the last four years, do not present your CV as a retail industry one. Look within and repackage yourself as a professional who can adapt to any industry (obviously you did come from some other industry to retail), good at start-ups, managing projects and getting them off the ground.

Your CV should look more broad-based for absorption into multiple sectors. Be less stubborn on relocating.

Badmouthing your previous company and boss and coming across as a victim is not a smart strategy while interacting with prospective employers. You will look like a loser and no one wants to hire losers.

Communicate the circumstances of your departure as clinically as possible. This is perceived as a sign of maturity. Encourage them to speak to your old company.

Go easy on the compensation expectations. Ideally, your salary should get protected. Even if it is a tad lower, go for it if you think the role, company and industry have long-term promise. In a 35-year career, it is not really necessary to see a 10-20 per cent hike on a yearly basis.

And finally, for the period that you are still around, keep the equations alive -- and pleasant. You never know, your old bosses can turn up as vendors or customers or, worse still, like in a bad Bollywood movie, your old boss can resurface as the new boss somewhere in your long and chequered career.


The author is a senior HR professional working in the pharma sector.

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