Leading Edge: So…you have been restructured – Originally Published in MM&D

Accept that it happens, and address what you can do to move forward with your career if it happens to you.

In my work as a recruiter I meet every week with a wide variety of individuals, many of whom have been restructured out of their former positions. It happens across all levels of employment throughout supply chain and transportation, and every other industry as well. Margins are tight, and companies are looking for every way to improve productivity and profitability. Thus, restructuring takes place and results in some or many positions being reduced or redesigned.

The purpose of this article is not to debate whether this should happen, but more importantly to accept that it often does, and to address what you can do to move forward with your career if it happens to you.

First and foremost it’s important to recognize you’re not alone. Over the last few years the number of people who have been affected by some kind of restructuring has steadily grown. Not a day goes by where I don’t see outstanding résumés of people who have made great contributions and are now looking for their next career step.

Being restructured no longer carries the stigma that it once did, and the vast majority of employers do not look at a person who’s been restructured as someone they should be careful about hiring. In fact, enlightened employers often view the situation quite differently and see it as an opportunity to add experienced, excellent talent to their organizations.

It is critical to accept the facts of a restructuring and get prepared to move on. If you’re offered some kind of career counseling, accept it absolutely and use it wisely. In many cases people who are restructured haven’t prepared a résumé, networked effectively or interviewed for a position for many years. Using professional help in these areas is a great idea. If there is no formalized career counseling then by all means make use of friendships and other people in your network who have been in similar circumstances. It’s healthy to “talk it through,” process what has happened, and prepare for the transitional phase.

A key to securing your next position will be developing a professional résumé. It’s imperative to understand you are competing in the job marketplace and your résumé will be viewed against dozens and perhaps hundreds of others. It therefore needs to be a strong summary of your career presented in a highly professional manner.

I often meet people who feel their career experience should speak for itself and they therefore resist investing the time and effort a top-notch résumé requires. Don’t make this mistake! Frankly the résumé is your opening statement to a potential conversation, so a lack of attention at this point can be very costly. The good news is that professional résumé writers are reasonable in cost and easily found.

Many restructuring situations include some form of severance pay or salary continuance. In some cases if the years of service are significant this can be quite lengthy and may prompt the thought that there’s lots of time to find the next opportunity. This may be the case, but I usually encourage people to take just a short break and immediately get busy with the transition, networking, interviews and a clear focus on the next position.

In most cases it takes longer than you think it will, and the ensuing stress is a distraction and very counterproductive. So for the vast majority of people, it’s time to get busy with every networking opportunity, call in every favor from industry friends, examine every job-site and contact every reputable recruiter.

Lastly, when the all-important interviews are secured, keep the discussion about the restructuring positive and succinct. The worst move at this point is to open with negativity, disrespect the former employer, and complain about the restructuring. I’ve seen it happen too many times and it turns the prospective positive interview into a negative experience right from the start.

At this point it’s important to remember that the vast majority of people understand that restructuring takes place regularly, and they don’t have a negative opinion of it. Therefore, your best pathway to future success is to address the restructuring and quickly move on to the positive impact you can make for the new employer.

If you do find yourself in the difficult spot of having been restructured, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s imperative that you understand that the transitional phase and all that goes with it is actually your new job until you are re-employed.

Get all the support you can, read every positive article you can find, and focus clearly on your strengths and how you can help the next employer by bringing all of your experience and ability to a new position.

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