Being terminated, downsized, canned, or let go can be tumultuous and can induce vulnerability and a sense of negativity throughout your activities – both in your personal life and in your career transition.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than at a networking event, surrounded by people who are intensely focused on career details and accomplishments. One of the first questions you’re likely to be asked is, “So what do you do?” or “So where are you working these days?”
How do you answer that question if you’ve just been downsized?
I can remember attending networking meetings 20+ years ago, and if the person next to me had been recently terminated, I was naïve enough to think that they had some sort of disease. But that was not and is not the truth, and there should be no stigma, embarrassment or shame in being let go.
Take a deep breath, share your feelings with your coach, family and friends, and move on. Reflect on the reasons why you have been terminated. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s not because of your work activities or professionalism; it’s because the business has made a decision to either cut costs or go in a new direction. Each week across North America, many thousands of people are let go. You are not alone.
It can be difficult to explain why you are in career transition, but be honest, be sincere, and be confident in delivering a truthful message about your situation. Try to inject humour and a positive spin when questioned.
Steer the conversation towards the benefits you can bring a new employer, emphasizing your capabilities, strengths, and your willingness to swiftly return to full-time employment.
Your mannerism and the inflections in your voice will play a huge role in the impression you make on those you meet. Even during a telephone conversation, you can transmit your drive and determination by your tone of voice and the energy behind your words.
Don’t deflect from your situation when networking or in conversation with a decision maker or personal contact. Relay a powerful, succinct and realistic message that will resonate throughout your network to entice people to converse with you.
Them: So what do you do? Where are you working these days?
You: Actually, I am currently in career transition, however I see this as a positive opportunity and a stepping stone to my career advancement.
Way to go!