Some time ago, the Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Needleman wrote about companies who mis-handle employee firings. It’s hard to say which is more cruel: getting a phone message, getting invited to a meeting to be told the company will be dissolved, or simply ordered out on five minutes notice.
But you can’t control how a company chooses to fire you. You can control how you will prepare for your own worst-case scenario.
Diagram your play before you need one.
Imagine a basketball team that’s down by 10 with 3 minutes to go. The coach has a play already diagrammed and ready to go. Even if your team probably won’t win, you know what to do: cut into the loss, hope to pick up free throws, and bring out your best 3-point shooter.
You need to be your own coach, although you may hire “assistant coaches” like the pros do.
So let’s say you’re recruited away from a terrific job to head up marketing for a new product line, like one manager in today’s story. You have to move a thousand miles away, uprooting your family. And then the company decides not to move forward with the product line.
I encourage my clients to anticipate being stranded. People do get fired within 6 months of a big move. It happens more than most people realize, at every level of corporate life.
If you’re in a secure position when you’re recruited, you may be able to negotiate a contract or letter of agreement to pay a lump sum if the position falls apart.
You may decide to leave the family and commute for six months while you scout out the situation. You might have a working spouse or a start-up plan for your own business.
Of course, you can probably think of at least a dozen more options if you go into brainstorming mode.
But I recommend taking stock every 3 to 6 months. What will you do if your job disappears tomorrow? There’s no easy answer. But you can set up resources to call, build a network, and create an emergency fund.
And you can come up with a set of questions to ask your new employer before you sell your home and move your spouse, kids, and dog across the country or around the world.
Most important, you can create a side hustle – the closest thing to job insurance. You can read an excellent book on the topic: Side Hustle by Scott Guillebeau. And I have a product where I interviewed 12 people on their journeys from corporate life to self-employment. Click here to learn more.