Getting laid off “was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Getting laid off “was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

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by Ed Weirauch, Career Transition Coach

Getting laid off “was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Did you ever hear someone say something like this, or in response to your own job loss, offer that response? Upon hearing this, you may have thought to yourself “yeah, right.” How could a job loss be the best thing that could happen?

For many people, the loss of a job spurs them on to set new career goals or finally ‘gives them permission’ to leave a job that they may have felt stuck in but needed an extra or dramatic push to finally look for something else. When a severance package is part of a departure, many of us can have the peace of mind (temporarily at least) to think about our next job and then develop a strategy to achieve our goals.

This peace of mind is really the “essence” of the phrase “best thing that could have happened.” For many people, that severance package provides the finances needed to actively pursue training and other new opportunities.

That’s how Carol Deputy (pictured above) felt when her 16-year-job as an executive administrative assistant with Columbia Gas in Wilmington ended many years ago. “Of course the experience at the time was very stressful,” Carol recalls. “You’re leaving behind familiarity, people that you worked with, your benefits. But you also may not realize yet that you’re headed toward something that you’ll like even more.”

Carol had already been taking courses at Delaware State University to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. Today she says that severance “funded my next role in life.”

In 2001, she joined Cancer Care Connection, a non-profit agency that employs social workers as Cancer Resource Coaches® who respond to telephone callers with any non-medical (psycho-social) issue or question related to cancer.

“A fire was lit within me from the moment I took this job,” Carol says today. “In my role, I can help the person who calls to regain a sense of control, manage their stress and get them information that meets a pressing need. I think to myself, ‘what better way to spend my day?’”

Carol went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Social Work and is now one of only a few Licensed Clinical Social Workers in Delaware with a specialty in cancer issues. So truly, her administrative assistant job ending did turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to her.

But the message here is that this didn’t “just happen.” Carol already had a plan in the works.

Severances should be looked upon as a means to an end, a way to finance your new beginning rather than surprise or “found money.” As a Career Transition Coach, I also think it’s key to always have ideas for your next position in the back of your mind. What might excite you if you encounter a detour in the road? That’s the reality of today’s economy and if/when that day comes, you’ll want to be in a position to make the best thing happen for you.

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