Note from the author: COVID has us all working in unchartered territory. As most will attest, working in collaboration with staff for so many hours in a day, has us start to feel like family. To learn more about what it’s like having to job search during a global pandemic, I sat down for a frank conversation with Kelly Bidon – Outplacement Services Career Coach. Kelly has, over the course of her 25-year career, worked with thousands of employers and displaced workers – supporting employers with the many considerations regarding termination and for the affected employee(s), the many considerations required to prepare for their next career.
If you were to ask me 15 years ago what the demographic was for an individual accessing outplacement services, I would have said it was largely men who had worked in the manufacturing industry – assembly, a skilled trade person, or management. But now, those cases are few and far between. Today, I largely work with people with significant post–secondary education – people who have worked in what we consider, ‘white-collared’ careers.
“Regardless of your work or educational background, a termination or layoff, due to restructuring or a merger/acquisition can happen to anybody … at anytime.”
No one is immune to job loss, and this last year has been proof of that. I’ve been providing Outplacement Services to individuals for 25 years, but never have I had to coach somebody during a pandemic. The last pandemic was in 1918 – 103 years ago. It’s been tough and we’re certainly figuring things out as we go. People often ask me “are employers hiring? Are there jobs out there.” One hundred percent yes. What they are hiring for, how and where you will work, and how employers are conducting interviews may look and feel very different, but there are numerous jobs available – advertised and unadvertised. I tell people that looking for work along with working in 2021, is like wearing your pants backwards … you can do it – it just looks and feels a little different.
Initially, the people I work with are often devastated that they have lost their job. However, they also soon come to discover the excitement that during this time of change and transition, they get to re-invent themself. The pandemic has allowed people, whether employed or between jobs, a chance to pause, reflect, and pivot when it comes to determining their ‘career destiny’. Regardless of the age and stage of life, the people I work with get the opportunity to delve deep into, ‘what do I now want to be when I grow up?’
I’m currently working with a candidate who has been in the same role, with the same employer for over 20 years. This individual was feeling burnt out in their job, and ready for a change but due to their tenure (and quite frankly, their income), never made the change. So, while their current circumstances of being out of work due to restructuring has been stressful, their termination had also provided them the opportunity to access Outplacement Services – a series of employment support services that help former employees transition to new jobs. By having their former employer pay for an Outplacement Services package on their behalf, they have taken a deep dive into career assessments (skills/aptitudes; personality; career suitability; values; personal qualities), transferable skills analysis, and are also considering (government-funded) retraining. They have been presented with many interesting facts about themselves and the question of “what do I want to be when I grow up?” has proven rewarding and exciting.
I hear it all the time: “I couldn’t stand my manager, my colleagues were this, the hours were that …” I’m sure this may sound familiar to some of you reading this. How many of us fall into a career and then stay there, not because we love it but because we get too comfortable, too afraid to leave – not knowing if a career change will prove better or worse? Should we wait for the decision to be made for us, and if terminated or laid off, hope our employer offers Outplacement Services or do you look into Career Decision Making options while still employed in a career that is not meeting your needs – personal, professional, or monetary? This is a question that only you can answer.
If you ever find yourself between jobs, try to reframe your job loss as a rare opportunity to allow you the time and space to step back, take a deep breath, reflect, and realize that this, while unexpected, can have you end up in a place you only imagined. That epiphany – the shift in people’s momentum and the confidence that follows, is one of my favourite parts of my job. I don’t make many promises to people in my life, but I do say to every person that I have had the pleasure of working with in Outplacement, that “You WILL find another job … another career – that I promise”