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Your Services Are No Longer Needed

At some point in your career, you’re likely to hear, “Your services are no longer needed,” “You did a great job for us, but now we’re moving in a new direction,” or simply “You’re fired.” While you may have been expecting the axe to fall, it makes it no less painful. It’s hard to brace for the final blow and many of us are caught flatfooted. When it happened to me I immediately felt hurt, betrayed, angry and rejected. Then, I started feeling worthless or somehow that I was now damaged goods and that all of my hard work for the company was wasted effort. Whether or not any of that is actually true didn’t matter. In my case the organization I had been consulting for had a major leadership change. I reached out to the new director, but ultimately it became clear that she was assembling “her” team with a “fresh perspective. It’s very common for a new leader to take ownership of their domain and assemble a team of their choosing.

Anyway, once it’s clear that the end has come, whether you’ve been laid off, fired, or had a contract cancelled, you have to pick yourself back up and stay on track. There are some productive things you can do to alleviate the hurt and regain your confidence and ultimately a new, hopefully more satisfying position.

Surround yourself with friends and loved ones

The first time it happened to me, I had a good old-fashioned pity party. I called my mom. I called my dad. I called my sisters, and I called my friends. It was great to get the “your better than them anyway” speeches. They helped me brainstorm all the great things I was capable of and reminded me that when one door closes another one opens. After awhile I got tired of wallowing in the pity and decided it was time to regroup. I had to get some perspective and move forward. I wasn’t destitute. I had a house and car I could still afford. I had options to pursue and in no time things would be looking up.

Reach out to key contacts

Your contacts may not only be a source of leads but a source of consolation. At a certain point in life, most people have experienced a career setback. It may be a lay off or removal from a major project or getting fired. So, many of your colleagues can empathize with your situation. You don’t want to over do it on the negativity, but you can perhaps get some good advice and insight into next steps. At the very least you’ll realize you’re not the first person to have this experience.

Get a reference

Unless the person who fired you is a sociopath, they’re likely to be feeling a little guilt. Even if they believe the move is justified, it’s hard to let someone go, especially someone who has been a good co-worker and has contributed to the organization. In their guilt-ridden state, they may offer a letter of reference. Take it! That will be your proof of a job well done and can even boost your confidence a bit.

Re-evaluate your career direction

Now, that you have some time on your hands, it’s a great time to re-evaluate your career direction. Perhaps, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll discover that the career path you were on isn’t so great after all. I discovered that the contracts I had been working on for so many years had lost their appeal. I was no longer challenged and felt like I was going through the motions. When I tried to expand my role, I got a lot of resistance, so it probably was best to move on. I hung on through staff changes until finally, my decision was made for me, that my  “services were no longer needed.” Now, I have more time to devote 100% to my true passion, which is being a career counselor who helps people create satisfying careers.

Evaluate what was gained

We learn something from all of our experiences. When you look back, you’ll see that you had many accomplishments about which to be proud. You might have landed a big client, or saved money by creating efficient systems. Maybe you launched a very successful marketing campaign. Try to take an objective look at what you accomplished. Also, take the learning from the situation. Perhaps, this was a wake up call to take control of your career by removing you from a situation that no longer served your purposes. Did you learn to be more proactive? Did you learn new skills? Did you enhance your professional training and education?

Acceptance doesn’t always come easy, but while you’re going through the grieving process, do what you can to stay on track. Be as open as you can to new opportunities and see what happens. 

Markell R. Steele, Career Counselor and founder of Futures in Motion, Inc., is a national certified counselor, distance credentialed counselor, speaker, and author of Fast Track Your Career: Three Steps for Finding Work You Love.

"I help frustrated job seekers find career direction, so they can get the job they want in less time with less stress."
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