Q: I’ve just been terminated by my company and while I know this is happening to others during this difficult time, I was not expecting it at all and feel totally devastated. This has never happened to me before and wondered what you suggest I do next?
A: Nothing! I know this may sound odd under the circumstances, but if you can afford it, you need to look at this as an opportunity to step back, rest, recover and evaluate where you are, but more importantly, where you’re going. This major negative career event can be used to regain your perspective and plan your next move, which might even mean moving in a totally different career direction and an opportunity to pursue something you might have always been passionate about, but never had the time to pursue.
Additionally, while clearly a stressful experience for you, if viewed correctly, it can also be a major learning experience, the lessons of which you can carry with you as you move forward. If viewed in the right way, the wisdom and perspective you will have gained from this experience is a gift you can share with others who will undoubtedly experience similar turbulence in their careers. This will also enhance your leadership reputation going forward.
Q: I’ve now been out of work for quite a while. Do you have any suggestions on how I might explain this employment gap in a positive way during my next interview?
A: While under current circumstances, some employers are becoming more flexible about time off between jobs, many firms continue to view this as a negative. However, there are several things you can do while you are off to put a positive spin on this career break during your next interview.
First, consider volunteering or taking courses to broaden and expand your experience in your chosen field. Are there any certifications in your function that you can attain while you are not working, or are there any you have previously attained that need to be renewed or updated?
In your next interview, don’t think you need to apologize for being out of work, but rather be prepared to demonstrate how you’ve kept up with industry trends and technology in your chosen field.
Lastly, make sure you do your research on any companies you’re interested in, and during your interview, be prepared to specifically explain how you plan to contribute to the firm in the future, all the while projecting a high level of energy, enthusiasm and interest to ease any doubts about your readiness to contribute.