Seeing the Opportunity in a Crisis

Six years ago I was laid off. Actually, as the VP of HR, I laid myself off but that’s semantics. The end result was that I didn’t have a job.

At first I did the usual. I sent my resume to headhunters, contacted my network, and applied to a few posted positions. But this time my heart wasn’t in it. This was the third time in 5 years that I had lost my job through no fault of my own. The first time, my employer shut down its US office. Then my next employer moved from New York City to San Diego less than a year after I joined them. I didn’t want to move so I found myself looking again. Now my new company was sliding towards bankruptcy and once again I was on the market. It was especially hard to take for me because I had stayed with my first employer for 13 years! Now it seemed I couldn’t even get my feet under the desk before it was time to move on.

And that’s when I decided to stop looking for a job and make my own. I was tired of being at other people’s mercy. At least if I was going to fail, I wanted it to be my fault. And if I was going to make my own job, it had to be something I really enjoyed and something I knew I would be good at. That’s how I settled on resume writing – I love writing, I have always been good at strategizing, and as a former HR exec, I knew exactly what made a resume work. And so Blue Sky Resumes was born and I left the corporate world behind me forever.

Jason Alba has a similar story. After being laid off in 2006, Jason started to look for another job in IT and business strategy. Finding that he needed a place to organize his job search information, he developed his own database. Then, as he learned the importance of networking, he expanded the system so that it also stored his networking contact information. From that purely practical starting point, Jason wound up developing and marketing Jibber Jobber, a full job search and relationship management system. Like me, he’s also gone on to write books and he frequently speaks about job search and networking at conferences and events across the country.

I haven’t asked Jason, but I bet he’s glad that lay-off happened. I certainly am.

That’s not to say that the entrepreneurial life is for everyone – you may hate the idea of starting your own business. It’s just to say that there are often other options. I’ve know people who have made complete career changes after being laid off. I’ve known others who have decided to take a step down the corporate ladder. One person went to work for a non-profit. Another moved across the country and started again. Hearing that you are about to lose your job is terribly upsetting – especially in this economy – but there’s no doubt that sometimes a layoff can actually be an opportunity.

How about you? Has bad news ever turned out to be a good thing for you? If so, tell us in the comments. I know other readers going through worrying times would appreciate hearing your story.

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