Monday, May 07, 2001

The Success Coach

Develop strategy to prepare for impending layoff

By Michael Crom
Gannett News Service

        Question: I am absolutely terrified of the future. I've been a secretary for the regional office of a large manufacturing company for more than 10 years, and I just found out that the office will be closing in three months.

        I've never had another job. I don't even know how to look for a job. I don't know if my skills will transfer to another company. Everyone tells me I won't have trouble in this market, but I'm too worried to even think about it. - Cynthia.

        Answer: First of all, get a handle on your worries. It's not doing your health any good to worry about the future. I'll bet it's taking a toll on your work performance as well as your family life.

        Here are some strategies from Dale Carnegie Training for helping you through the next few months:

        • Cooperate with the inevitable. Your office is closing. You'll need to find a new job. Those are facts you can't change, so there's no sense fretting about them. Remember that everyone has unexpected changes in their lives. This isn't a disaster; it's just a normal part of living.

        • Keep busy. You're lucky to have three months' notice to collect the information you need. First, list all the people at your office who would give you a good recommendation, then go to them and ask who they know who might need your skills.

        Second, evaluate those skills. Look at the jobs available in your community and analyze what skills they require. Call human-resource people to determine what skills are in demand. You might find you need some short courses in computer skills, for example.

        • Decide just how much anxiety this may be worth and refuse to give it more. Once you've analyzed your situation and come up with a plan for finding a new job, you'll likely find there isn't much to worry about. In addition, you're a very capable worker or you wouldn't have been with this company for 10 years. You definitely have skills to offer other companies.

        • Live in “day-tight compartments.” There's no question that some days will be rough. When you feel overwhelmed with stress and worry, remember to take one minute at a time. Deal with each situation as it arises and don't think about tomorrow. Get through the moment.

        If you have any business-related questions or would like advice on other workplace issues, visit our Web site at or e-mail us at The writer is executive vice president of Dale Carnegie Training.


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