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  • Lori A. Jazvac

Be Proactive: Is a Downsizing or Career Restructuring Looming on the Horizon?

Getting downsized in your career is not uncommon in this changing world of work. Change happens often unexpectedly, and when it does, it can push you to identify what do you really want out of your career and enforce you to revamp your career growth strategy.

Here's the irony:

You could be a high-performing employee, manager, or executive and still lose your job or not have your contract extended for different reasons.

Let’s face it.

If you know that you are leaving the company or role, it may not turn out to be a pleasant or comfortable situation, especially when you are not given enough notice to prepare for such a transition. No one likes hearing those dreaded words: "Your position is being restructured" or "You're being terminated this week!" If you've experienced this before, it can feel devastating.

Downsizing: Exercise care and thoughtful planning

Remember though, the way that you manage this transition and the actions that you take are crucial to your career success. Exercise care and thoughtful planning to ensure a harmonious transition. After all, you have worked hard to prove your value and you have likely established trusted relationships with superiors and colleagues in your company for possibly months or several years.

A downsizing or restructuring may be related to economic changes or a merger/acquisition. It may be fuelled by a “strategic hiring decision” by the new CEO. On the other hand, it could be precipitated by a conflict of interest or values, or even the complexities of office politics.

Sometimes, restructurings or downsizings can happen due to a misalignment in the role or cultural fit. But what this means is that you now can find a fulfilling position or start your own entrepreneurial venture if you choose. Sometimes, a downsizing really is a 'blessing in disguise,' paving the way for more fruitful opportunities aligned with your goals, strengths, values, and expertise.

Reframe your mindset: Change your perspective about job loss

Whatever the reason, a recent job loss or downsizing does not have to define you, your worth, or your career. Yes, downsizings/restructurings can take their toll on your motivation and self-esteem. Your attitude and mindset, however, will determine your direction and ability to progress into a rewarding role.

Consider it an experience that could propel you in a more refreshing direction while fuelling growth. So you have the choice to take control by being proactive or letting the situation control you by being reactive.

Here are 8 empowering strategies to take if you are facing a downsizing or restructuring:

1. Observe warning signs that your job may be in jeopardy. Gather all the facts. Record your observations in a journal or on your computer at home.

  • Has your company lost a major client?

  • Is your employer buying out a competitor, or is your company being acquired?

  • Has there been increased turnover during the past few months or year?

  • If you hear rumours of layoffs, there may be truth behind the rumours. Proactively observe activities and conversations, and find out how it impacts your position. Remain calm, and conduct your due diligence.

2. Remain positive, confident, and grounded. Arm yourself with updated brand marketing collateral.

  • Have your résumé and LinkedIn profile fully recustomized and updated towards your career focus.

  • Seek professional support by a Master Résumé Writer.

  • This is a good time to reflect upon your milestones that will accurately highlight your value and your accomplishments.

  • Track your achievements using CAR stories (Challenge-Action-Results) and keep a detailed log with dates and titles.

3. Avoid doing too much or too quickly on LinkedIn.

  • Carry out your activities on LinkedIn in a balanced fashion. Suddenly transitioning from 10 LinkedIn connections to 200 or completely changing your content can invite questions by your employer or other colleagues.

  • Be sure to change your privacy settings so the changes you make aren’t broadcast to your network.

  • Make gradual changes but avoid posting content that could be deemed confidential or impact your employer or the team. Use your discretion.

  • Don’t post anything negative about your job or employer online. Even if your profile is set to private, someone could take a screenshot of your comments. Use sound judgment as your reputation is at stake.

4. Start depersonalizing your workspace slowly.

  • In a downsizing situation, keep in mind that in some cases, you may not be allowed to return to your office to collect your personal possessions.

  • Be sure to take things home gradually so it’s not apparent that you’re clearing out your things.

  • When cleaning out your workspace, ensure that nothing personal is left on the company computer. Mind your reputation.

  • Remember that while some information, online activity, and personal emails may be considered personal at work, However, this information can be easily tracked and may impact your credibility along with your ability to find a new job or secure a solid reference.

5. If you get let go, know that you may not have access to critical information you need for your job search.

  • So gather this critical information now — including dates and names of trainings, old résumés, copies of performance evaluations, accolades, key project successes and numbers, sales records, etc.

  • A common mistake that many professionals make is leaving critical information behind — rather than safeguarding and assembling the information neatly into a portfolio for quick and easy reference.

6. Closely monitor and rethink your finances, set goals, and plan ahead.

  • Be realistic and remain patient. Looking for work can take a few weeks to even a few months, which means a temporary loss of income.

  • Plan ahead by setting SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely) financial goals.

  • Consider enhancing your savings fund.

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your career situation.

  • Are there any expenses you can eliminate or reduce for the time being? This will help you save money both in the short and long-term while gaining control over your finances.

7. Understand and coordinate all your benefit information.

  • Schedule a follow-up appointment with your HR representative to discuss and finalize these items in detail for peace of mind.

  • Remember to discuss key benefits such as severance pay, accrued vacation, overtime and/or sick pay, health insurance options, profit sharing, retirement etc. (whatever applies to your situation, goals or needs).

  • Ensure that you are getting a fair settlement and know your rights.

8. Try not to make any major decisions right away without honest reflection.

  • Let the situation settle a bit before you sign any documents or move full speed with any quick moves.

  • Proceed carefully and think each decision through before acting. You want to avoid having regrets later.

  • Consider taking a break or vacation. This may reduce your stress and help you return with a crisp focus along with more clarity and motivation.

Things change and often beyond one's control. Being proactive and strategic is your best strategy in navigating changes. Conduct your due diligence when facing a restructuring. But most of all, be kind to yourself and appreciate the milestones you've worked so hard to achieve!

Regardless of the obstacles you may be facing, never give up in the midst of challenge. Turn the situation around into an empowering learning experience.

See the positives and always remember your unique value.

For more information on holistic career products and services, contact Creative Horizons Communications at 905.730.2374 or email

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