Article, Executive job loss? What now?, by Maureen McCann :

Executive Job Loss? Now what?
Maureen McCann, BA, MCRS, MCIS, MCCS

Our economic environment is volatile and many six-figure executives are finding themselves out of a job with little notice. While there may not be many good news stories about the labour market these days, now is the time for you, the executive job seeker, to shift your thinking from “doom and gloom” to prospecting and the future.

Should you suddenly lose your six-figure job, you need to be prepared. Start by strategising before moving forward with your executive job search. Take a few moments to learn about strategies you can implement now to ensure your future career success.

The psychologist, Abraham Maslow, proposed that humans have a pyramid of needs that must be met. This is called “Maslow’s hierarchy.” At the base of his pyramid, lie our most basic needs. Maslow suggests that in order to move to the next level of the pyramid, the preceding level must be secure. Before you take your next step in your executive job search, you must first secure this foundation. Only after facing your most basic needs can you focus 100% of your efforts on securing the second level needs – part of which include a successful executive job search strategy.

Assess yourself, your situation, and your career

As you begin to settle into your new reality, consider your state of mind and create a path for your own career success. Take the time to give yourself a thorough check-up. Begin by evaluating where you are now, where you want to go, and how you will get there.

1. Financial Needs: Sit down with your financial statements and/or financial advisor, and evaluate your financial situation. You may have more breathing room than you think. If there are financial challenges you must face, now is the time to evaluate these, write a plan, and follow it. If you have received a severance package, this may help you alleviate some of the financial burden of a job loss. However, do not count on it forever, even the most carefully managed severance will run out sometime. The key is to shorten your job search cycle. The sooner you can begin your job search, the better. In fact, if you can shorten the time between jobs, you may able to put some money aside.

2. Health Needs: Many employers allow up to three months of continued health and dental benefits. You have the time to schedule your medical appointment so take advantage of this. Visit your doctor and while there, talk about your job loss. Talking to a professional about your job loss will help alleviate the burden. Healthcare professionals have a wealth of information available to them that they can pass along to you about how to stay healthy during periods of stress and upheaval.

3. Emotional Needs: Job loss is emotional. It is a very trying time because there is so much transition taking place at once. You are grieving the loss of job security, coupled with a loss in your daily activities, your commitments to your projects, your clients, and your colleagues. At the same time, you may be spending more time at home, yet feeling pressure to get back to work. Now, more than ever, your life and career depends on your mental health. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or desperate, your job search will suffer because these emotions are translated in your body language, your tone of voice, and the manner in which you deal with people. This may influence your next opportunity greatly. Your best bet is to deal with your emotions from the start. If you do not know where to begin, simply start talking to those who love you. If necessary, seek out guidance from qualified professionals who are experienced in working with people experiencing difficulties due to job loss.

Develop a leaving story

A leaving story is a short explanation of why you are not currently working. Done correctly, you can leverage your leaving story into a networking connection. Consider the following interaction:

Jack: Bob, what are you up to these days?

Bob: Thanks for asking Jack. I just finished working with (Company Name) as their (Position Title). What I most loved about working with them was (Three things Jack enjoyed while working with the company.) Now, as I focus my attention on finding my next challenge, I am looking for (Jack specifically identifies what he is targeting.)

Know yourself and your value

Not often in life can you be alone with yourself, and think about what you want. The period after job loss is one of the times where self-reflection is crucial.

Reflect on the accomplishments you have achieved over the course of your career. If you are not sure where to start - dig out “thank you cards” you received for a job well done, review your performance evaluations, remember those awards you won, - everything you can get your hands on that reminds you of how great you are. Here are a few things to ask yourself:

• When was the last time I did something great?
• When was the last time I helped someone?
• When was the last time I was really happy?

These simple questions are just a start.

Taking the time to identify areas where you want to work will help you avoid making costly mistakes in your career and in your life.

Educate yourself about career transition

There is a joke that goes “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: “one bite at a time.” A job search may seem daunting at first because there are so many things to consider: resumes, interview skills, networking, and cover letters to name but a few. However, if you focus your efforts and work diligently, you can and will accomplish this seemingly overwhelming task.

There are a number of ways to learn about career transition. Reading articles like this is one way learn strategies that will lead to your inevitable success in your job search. Speaking with a career professional about how to position yourself in today’s market is a great way to start your job search. Graham Management Group provides a wide range of services supporting six-figure professionals in transition.

Regardless of where you are now, and how you may feel about the future, your perspective will change. This job loss may be the best thing that happened to you. You have been given an opportunity to stop and re-evaluate your career. Time spent evaluating your current circumstance, may change the trajectory of your future.


Maureen McCann is an award-winning, inspiring, and resourceful master certified resume strategist and career consultant, and senior advisor for Career Professionals of Canada. As senior Consultant for Graham Management Group, Maureen assists executives, managers, and six-figure professionals through the full scope of career transition. You can contact Maureen and find further information and articles directly at


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