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We all would like to think that everything happens for a reason. So, when it comes to being severed from your job, most people are devastated, negative, caught off-guard and miserable. I am here to tell you to think positive and that it will be OK when you are pulled into a room with your manager and Human Resources to be told your position has been eliminated.
It has happened to me twice! Let me tell you what happened to me and what I did to turn it to a positive experience!
What does severed mean?
to separate (a part) from the whole, as by cutting or the like. to divide into parts, especially forcibly; cleave. to break off or dissolve (ties, relations, etc.).–www.dictionary.com
For employment purposes, there are several reasons for a company to sever employees: Job Elimination, Right-Sizing, Business Moving/Closing, etc. Sometimes they sever based on performance and/or forced retirement. In any event, when I think of severed, I think of a ‘termination bonus’ or severance pay. This is a positive way to end employment, right? This is where your opportunity comes in.
“…almost all U.S. businesses (97 percent) say they offer some form of severance to workers”-shrm.org ( read more here )
This is your opportunity!
It is not the end of the world! It is time to reflect on your job history and ask yourself the following questions:
- Were you happy with what you were doing?
- Did you enjoy your position and everything that came with it?
- How was the company culture, amazing?
- Was your work and personal life balanced?
If you answered ‘no’ to most if not all of these questions – this is your opportunity to make a change! Let me explain how I did not ask myself these questions after the first time I was severed.
First Time Severed
I was an HR Generalist for a company that had several locations in remote areas. Each location was anywhere from 45-90 minutes one-way from home. I enjoyed the drive at times because it gave me time to relax and ponder life but, in the winter, it wasn’t fun. Being in human resources, I often get feelings that there are changes on the way – it is eerie sometimes, but my instinct has proven to be on par – most of the time.
An HR generalist left the organization and the company decided not to replace them. Instead, I was asked to report to that location a couple of times a week to ‘help out’. There was no choice. I also love to train and travel to different locations to learn the culture, employees, etc. It prepares me in my HR roles to get those different experiences.
I was going out on Medical Leave
During the same time, I was preparing to go on medical leave for a surgery that was put off for a couple of months. Prior to going on leave, I was asked to train a recruiter on the generalist-type responsibilities. This seemed normal, but I had a different feeling.
Since they weren’t replacing the generalist that left and wanted me to train someone (who only did recruitment) to do my job, where did that leave me? I had an inkling something was going to happen. Concerned about my job when I returned from leave (FMLA-I was protected), I had a conversation with my boss who was adamant I had nothing to worry about. It still didn’t feel right. During my recovery, I was looking at job openings and started to apply-just in case.
Three months went by and I was ready to return to work. When asked to come to the corporate office for an HR meeting with the entire team, I was happy that I would come back being informed! Little did I know; this was NOT an HR Team meeting.
When I Returned to Work…
I walked into the lobby and was led to a conference room nearby (used for interviews and terminations as to not disrupt the workforce in the back). That was it – a box of my personal belongings, my manager, and the HR Director with a plethora of severance documents. I knew these all too well because I had given them out to others in the past.
Although I was semi-prepare, I was still dumbfounded, pissed off, angry, and frustrated. At least I got a severance package with extras. So the company could bypass the ‘FMLA laws’ (or so it seemed) they were employing me for 2 weeks upon my return, but I didn’t have to work! The severance would kick in if I decided to sign the paperwork. Yeah me!
On my way home…I called my recruiter friend who had left about a month prior, with a mix of tears and anger asking her if there were any jobs available in HR. Thank goodness I had already been interviewing while I was out as my instincts were right.
I was lucky and within 2 weeks I had 2 job offers and had to choose between them. I was working a week later. But was I happy?
Second Time Severed
Several jobs later, I interviewed at a company that mentioned upfront there was a possibility it would be acquired and/or merged with another. It had been the talk for the past couple of years, but it had not yet happened. I was excited about this because even though I had been at companies that had been acquired before I was hired, this would be different because I would be part of it!
Only weeks after I accepted the job, it was announced – the company I worked for was separating from their parent company along with another to form a brand-new company! This was going to be a huge transition and learning experience-super excited!
As with any merger and acquisition, change is inevitable and, in this company, it was often. While there, departments underwent many different reorganizations. Territories kept changing, leaders and employees kept moving – some on to bigger and better things.
It was my time…
After three and a half years, it was my time and I had a feeling about this one too! Prior to our HR Director retiring six months earlier, I asked what was going to happen to the territory. Since he was on the way out, he didn’t really say anything about it except that he was going to be replaced and didn’t foresee any changes. That just didn’t make sense to me with everything else going on.
The new HR Director came to visit me and my territories. I always ask questions, and in this case, I did just that – what is going to happen with my role, and will things be changing? I was assured there were no plans to reorganize. That was about 6 months before the conversation that I had been waiting for, happened.
And just like that, I was asked to move to another state – this was a territory I was already working with and it was a very challenging environment. I wasn’t going to move to a place I had no connections. My husband worked in the state I was already in and as a government employee, you don’t just leave when you are so close to a fabulous retirement. I took the severance package and spent that summer re-focusing on my career and life goals.
- Q: Why do I keep getting these jobs that have a
heavy focus on Employee Relations?
- A: Because I was very good at that
- Q: How do I keep getting roles at companies
going through transitions that ultimately affect me?
- A: Luck?
- Q: Am I ever going to find a job that I love and
a company with an awesome culture?
- A: Maybe?
Positive Change #1
I shifted my focus to what I love to do and what type of company I want to work for, with, etc. I needed to job hunt differently. When looking for a job, my focus and interest were geared towards 3 factors:
The job description was number one for me because if most of the responsibilities, education, and experience requirements were in my wheelhouse, I would apply.
After working with a local company on how to change your Career Mindset and taking advantage of the career coach I had as part of my severance package, my focus on work changed. Company culture is very important. The better the culture, the fewer employee relations issues.
I started to focus on what I liked in human resources – this can be different based on companies. However, I have always enjoyed software transitions, mergers, and acquisitions, and swooping in to help HR when there is an issue or problem, or just need advice/expertise.
Several months went by and I had my first opportunity as a temporary HR Manager and that turned into a key player in the pre-work and post-work of an acquisition – that was my sweet spot and I loved working in those roles – HR Pro to Go – that was my new focus.
Positive Change #2
Changes bring thoughts. I started to write them down – work, personal, stories, etc. One day while perusing social media, I came across a FREE course that caught my attention: Start a Money- Making Blog – a FREE 5-day Email Crash Course. I decided to try it out!
It has been almost 2 years since I took that course and have learned and have also made great strides on monetization. Am I there yet? Well, I hit a roadblock when I started working as a consultant almost full time and needed to reorganize and focus. I wouldn’t change anything and encourage anyone who likes to write, tell stories, make recipes, etc. to check out blogging – it is FREE, and it can give you some information that can help in your future endeavors. You might actually be able to make a career out of it and not have to work for anyone but yourself!
Positive Change #3
During previous job searches and well before I was severed for the 2nd time, I joined a job board that is geared towards work-life balance/flexible work environments. When I first subscribed, it was because work was stressful and if there was more of an opportunity to work from home, I think I would take it if the time was right. When I started my blog, I thought if I was going to do this gig full time, then I needed to be aware of flexible job opportunities
Within 6 months of receiving a severance package, I was contacted about an opportunity through flexjobs.com for a company that helps in employee relocations. They were looking for area experts with human resources experience to settle in employees new to the area with a variety of services. As a consultant/independent contractor, you choose which programs you want to work depending on your schedule and there was no minimum or set hours. Truly flexible! I took it!
Everything Happens for a Reason
I believe that everything happens for a reason even though I had to be severed twice! It has been 2 years since I worked full-time for a company as an employee. Many of my friends joke about my ‘retirement’. That is not what it is!
It is about truly enjoying what you do and working at something different that brings joy. I have been lucky to work from home almost every day – when I am blogging of course. In addition, I am helping bring new people to the area often as I work with them to get settled in.
Many ask, are you making the same salary that you were working full time? I can honestly answer that as ‘no’ but almost! Blogging is a work in progress and takes time to build and grow. However, I believe that it isn’t always about money. It is about truly enjoying what you do and working differently. I have a very flexible schedule and chose the programs I want to work. I also can work from anywhere when I am writing, posting, and sharing content.
My schedule is open and I have been able to take advantage of every appointment, social gathering, running event, meeting, etc. That kind of flexibility is something that will always remain important to me….and I am very happy with my work-life balance.
So, if you ever become severed, think of it as a positive opportunity! More than likely you will find yourself more happier than ever!
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All the best… *judean*