In spite of the fact we currently have the lowest unemployment rate we’ve seen in years, people continue to find themselves blind-sided by unexpected layoffs and company closings. Nobody is immune. Just look at this list of the top 10 most-funded start-ups to fail in 2017 and you’ll see that unplanned career curveballs happen every day.
Explaining why you lost your job is hard enough. But, when your employer is making headline news that is truly cringe-worthy, it adds a whole extra layer of stress. For example, if you’re one of the Silicon Valley elite who worked at the infamous Juicero, you may find yourself in a situation like this:
Hiring Manager: “So, you worked at a company that sold a $700 juicing machine that essentially did the same thing as a person squeezing the juice out of your proprietary juice packets with their hands?”
Hiring Manager: “And, this seemed like a smart business model when you joined up?”
Hiring Manager: “Okay then. Thank you for your time.”
Sadly, when companies go down in public flames, it’s the hard-working, loyal (often left-in-the-dark) employees that take the brunt of the backlash. While the founders usually go on to start other companies and turn their former start-up’s failure into a best-selling comeback-kid story, all those staffers find themselves losing career confidence as they try to convince other employers they’re not damaged goods.
The sooner you can put your career setback behind you, the better. Getting a new job with a solid employer (and, as quickly as possible), should be your goal. Why? The longer you sit unemployed, the harder it will be to convince employers you are a hot commodity.
The fastest way to get back on track after an unexpected career mishap is to follow these three steps:
1. Use the Experience + Learn = Grow Model to articulate happened.
Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to hear sob stories or lame excuses. Instead, they want you to be objective and share what happened, what it taught you, and how you are going to use this new knowledge to help your next employer. When you can succinctly and sincerely share this information, paying special attention to being accountable for your actions, you will earn the trust and respect of those in a position to give you a new opportunity to rebuild you professional credibility.
2. Create a bucket list of employers.
Don’t waste your time ‘spraying and praying’ your credentials to anyone who will listen. Your reputation is at stake. Instead, do your homework and identify 10-20 companies who have business models you admire. The more you can connect your own experiences to those of the companies you’d like to work for, the easier it will be for you to show them you are worth taking a chance on. Companies like to hire people who identify with their purpose.
2. Leverage your weak ties.
Companies like LinkedIn exist because studies show we are all just three degrees of separation away from someone who works at a company on our bucket list. These are called ‘weak ties’ and they can be the key to you getting your next gig. Contacting colleagues who know people working at the companies on your list and offering them detailed, compelling reasons why you want to work there will help to speed up the referral process so you can be introduced to hiring managers and recruiters. As we say at Work It Daily, “your network is your net worth.” Knowing how to mine your network for connections is vital to getting yourself a new job so you can put the old one behind you.
You aren’t to blame for your employer’s demise, but you are responsible for your career choices.
The most important thing to remember after an epic career fail is to take ownership of what happened. You aren’t the one that caused the company to fall apart, but you did choose to work there. Making excuses or throwing former colleagues and managers under the bus won’t help you. It’s a small world and that type of talk usually comes back to bite later. Instead, recognize what doesn’t kill your career only makes it stronger. Use this powerful moment to define your future. You will survive, but only if you take the right action steps.