How would you feel if the job you’ve been doing for most of your life just moved offshore, or was cut without warning? Unfortunately, in today’s world, no job is ever 100 percent secure. Layoffs have become common for many companies. They hire when business looks good and cut jobs when profits fall short of estimates. Often, it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job or how hard you work.
The prudent thing to do is to objectively evaluate yourself and your prospects in the company. If you’ve been there for a while and are reluctant to simply find another job (with all the uncertainty that entails) then you should review the possibilities for transfer to another department. If you’re in engineering or manufacturing, perhaps you can move to marketing or sales where your product knowledge will be a valuable resource.
A key point to consider: Today’s speed of technological change generates a mismatch of skills. Experienced engineers know all the old things such as instrument selection, tuning controllers, good wiring practices and safety procedures. But they are relatively inexpert at new digital skills such as networking, communications, Web-based information search and integration. Don’t wait for a layoff to upgrade your skills—there are lots of courses in local colleges and some within your own company that will help you to upgrade your knowledge.
You may have a long career invested in the automation business, but don’t simply look for another job in a similar company or business. It will lead you along the same path with a similar result. A layoff brings the opportunity to review your view of the world in the light of new technology and burgeoning markets. Seek something that can really get your juices flowing.
Automation professionals utilize knowledge that is applied across multiple disciplines—electrical, electronic, mechanical, chemical, instrumentation, controls, computers, networking and information processing. This tremendous range can and should be applied to other expanding markets that have similar requirements. Growth arenas are solar energy, electrical smart-grids, energy infrastructure and robotics.
Even if your job feels comfortable and secure, don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. Never stop looking for new career opportunities; always have a passive job search in progress. Keep your resume updated and make sure that the right recruiters have your phone number. Keep networking, online and in the industry.
Nobody relishes the idea of becoming suddenly unemployed, but a layoff doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Here are some tips:
- Don’t Take It Personally. Even the most valuable employees can be let go. Don’t waste time and energy complaining; channel your resources into figuring out your own Plan B.
- Pre-planning. Often, when layoffs are announced, employees are given little time to prepare. If you think you might be facing a cutback, pack up your important possessions in advance. Make copies of work samples, performance reviews, and other key documents. Make sure you transfer all of your contacts to your personal computer.
- Emergency Funds. If your employment is terminated, you should get a severance package. Use this as a backup resource. Financial planners recommend that you should have enough to cover your expenses for between three and six months.
- The Bright Side. Being laid off is temporary. It may just be the stimulus for finding a more fulfilling job, or becoming self-employed. This may be your chance to explore better options.
The new global environment brings new employment paradigms. Use the change to your own advantage.
>> Jim Pinto is a technology futurist, international speaker and automation industry commentator. You can email him at [email protected] or review his prognostications and predictions on his website: www.jimpinto.com.