What to do if you lose your job
Take these steps to ensure you don’t have to deal with a financial crisis
In 2004, Agra-based Shabd Mishra was working with a leading research company as its head of sales, earning a package of 7 lakh annually. As a newly wed, he was looking forward to a bright future, when he was sacked because of structural changes in the company. “I was left with almost no money as I had deployed most of my savings for my wedding just a month previously. I tried to get another job, but most companies offered a lower salary or position, which was humiliating,” says 36-year-old Mishra. Thankfully, he could depend on his wife, a coporate lawyer, to keep the home fires burning. However, everybody may not be as lucky him.
How can you tell if you are likely to lose your job in the near future, and what can you do to safeguard yourself against such an eventuality? We spoke to a bunch of experts to help you with these dilemmas.
Read the writing on the wall
Financial experts explain that in most cases a pink slip doesn’t come out of the blue. Sometimes, job loss results from employee incompetence and negligence, and at others, it is because of inevitable, external circumstances, such as cost-cutting measures or a change in the company management. In either case, as Darryl Cabral, partner at Total Solutions, a Mumbai-based human resource consultancy firm, explains, there are sure to be certain tell-tale signs indicating an imminent job loss. “Not getting a salary increment or a promotion is a clear indication that the management is unhappy with the performance of the employee. So, chances are that he could be asked to leave within a short period of time,” says Cabral. A similar strategy deployed by a company is to look through the employee, making him feel invisible. Instances like a junior being promoted to do an employee’s job or the latter being asked to train a junior for his own role are red flags.
What to do in such a situation?
Human resource experts are of the opinion that a person should try and take control of the situation rather than lose his cool when threatened with a possible job loss in the near future. If the management has not yet told you to put in your papers, you should not do it. It is possible that only your immediate senior has problems with you, which may not matter much in terms of your overall growth prospects in the company. By quitting hastily, you would only make things easier for the disgruntled senior, not yourself.
How to cope with a pink slip
In the worst-case scenario, if a pink slip appears imminent, the best option for the employee is to search for a better job before quitting the present one. “An employee’s bargaining power increases if he has a job in hand,” says Cabral. Simultaneously, you need to get your finances in order. As a first step, you should start prioritising your expenses using financial planning tools. After this, assess your monthly expenses and create a contingency fund, which will take care of your day-today expenses for at least six months. “Though a six-month period is recommended for the contingency fund, it can be extended to around nine months if the employee falls in a high-risk job category,” says Mukund Seshadri, founder-partner, MS Ventures Financial Planners.If you have an outstanding debt, be it loans or credit card dues, you will have to rejig your expenses to make sure that you continue to meet the repayment schedule. Remember that defaulting on your debt is not an option, no matter how dire your situation. According to Pai, the worst thing to do in the face of a pink slip is to start disposing of one’s assets in real estate or equities in panic. “This is a common mistake made by unemployed people,” he explains adding that, “Selling your investment in a hurry won’t solve your problem.
How to get a new job
According to Cabral, employees who get pink slips can approach their previous company’s competitors for a job. The aspirant could also tap his network in the industry to circulate his resume. Another thing to remember while looking for a fresh job is to focus on a company that is smaller than the one you were employed with. “A company that is smaller in scale than your ex-employer would be happy to take you at a better position. This is because you will bring in a wealth of experience, particularly relevant to a larger set-up,” adds Cabral.
At the same time, never short-sell yourself and settle for a lower salary or position in a bigger company. “You won’t be happy with the drop in pay package and will constantly think of shifting to a bigger place. This is sure to impact your productivity,” says Cabral.