If you were to be handed a pink slip tomorrow, what would you do? Put on your favorite pajamas, go to bed, listen to Nirvana and not shower for a week?
Then what? How are you going to pay your mortgage? Pay off your car loan? And what about your career -- where are you headed now?
Lots of questions, and lots of stress. But, be assured, plenty of people have not only survived being laid off or fired, but have gone on to have even more successful careers.
Still, it's not easy. Deciding what to do at a time when you're the most disheartened, angry and confused isn't easy for anyone. That's why three smart women who have, at one time, lost their jobs, offer some great advice for all employees.
Nancy Widmann, Elaine Eisenman and Amy Dorn Kopelan, the authors of "I Didn't See It Coming," (Wiley, $24.95) offer this exit strategy:
1. Create an exit fund. Set aside enough financial reserve for a minimum of 12-18 months. The extra padding allows you the freedom to gamble on a new career, or to try something entrepreneurial.
2. Organize a personal board of directors. This group of trusted advisors will be your go-to people whenever you need advice or direction in regards to your career. Choose people who know your strengths as well as your weaknesses, but who are not emotionally tied to the outcome of your decisions.
3. Increase your marketability. Think realistically about where you want to be in a few years. Do you have the qualifications and skills to get there? Consider yourself a work in progress and never stop trying to upgrade whom, what and how much you know.
4. Leverage your networks. Keeping in touch with your contacts is hard work, but it is a crucial part of your exit strategy. When you can envision the next step, you are then able to reach out to all the contacts you know who could put you in touch with the right people.