A shakeup can mean a number of different things: Reorganization, demotion, termination, to name a few. The results of a shakeup are usually the same: Confusion, disappointment and deflation. A shakeup can be very unsettling, but it’s not the end of your career. In fact, your recovery can be the beginning of a new trajectory upward. There are certain steps you must take if you plan to reengage and transcend your negative experience. The objective now is to put the pieces back together again, then come out the other end better than where you were before.
To start, put the past behind you emotionally. You must objectively assess why you were caught in the shakeup and what you might have done differently. It’s not that you can redo history, but you can neutralize the affects and rationally help yourself defuse the self-doubt or guilt. A shakeup does not define you. It’s an event to learn from, then move forward with a positive strategy.
Second, you need to find a way to communicate the situation to others when they ask. And they will ask, especially when looking for another job. The interviewer will want to know what happened. Your response to the question needs to be short and honest. Keep your confidence level up and give your reasoning in as light a way as possible. Be careful not to speak negatively about the organization or your boss. If you lower your voice, eyes and posture, it’s a sure sign of blame. To be caught up in a reorganization, merger or staff reduction is very understandable to most everyone.
The most difficult response is when an employee is terminated “for cause”, which usually means breaking a major policy or an illegal or immoral act. Most companies don’t prosecute offending employees, but they do terminate without pay, which is the giveaway.
Third, keep your answers generic and at a high level like, “The culture was incompatible with my ability to perform.” or “I was put in a situation without training or supervision and lacked the tools and experience to be successful.” Then continue the discussion about the open job and why you are an excellent candidate. Nothing is more convincing than citing your measurable results that demonstrate expertise, ability and potential.
Lastly, define those skills and experiences that make you an outstanding potential candidate for the new position. Your job search strategy should focus on those attributes for which the hiring organization is looking. Moving to a lateral position or even a lesser job is sometimes a better strategy than trying to move to a higher level. Demonstrate success before taking the next step up. The worse thing that can happen is if you’re not successful in your next job. Then you have two negative examples to explain.
Recovering from a shakeup is highly likely with the right attitude. You’ll need a positive and dynamic strategy that works. Examine alternative strategies with a coach.
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