Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Dear Coach Joan,
I am filled with apprehension and fear. I am 58 years old and have been at the same corporation for 25 years as an attorney. I see colleagues the same age as I am being laid off and replaced with much younger candidates for much lower pay. I have always gotten excellent performance reviews and feel that my depth of experience and institutional knowledge is of great value to the company. What do you suggest I can do to keep my job? I am not in a position to take an early retirement. We still have two children to put through college and a mortgage to pay. Plus, I enjoy my work and feel I am fully effective at it.
Thank you for any advice.
I feel for you. Through no fault of your own you may be losing your job as the corporation looks for ways to cut costs. You know you are not the only one in this situation and you are wise to see if there are ways you can change an outcome that looks inevitable.
And yes, there ARE things you can do:
- Remind management of your value add: This is the time to regularly account for your contributions. Prepare a weekly status report and see your manager will let you periodically present it to a team of upper managers. Include not only your accomplishments but the strategy and thinking that went into your activities. Make your results clear and connected to the company bottom line. Show that you are relevant and are bringing best practices to your firm.
- Be proactive: Set up meetings with influential leaders in the company to determine current and future challenges where you can be effective. Show that you are on top of your game and willing and interested in being a more impactful lawyer for the company. When upper management meets to discuss human resource issues and budgets, be considered a top and valuable player they do not want to lose.
- Plan for a package: Consult with an employment attorney who specializes in compensation and or ageism in the workplace. Ask how you can best prepare to get as ‘rich’ a severance package as possible. See if there is the possibility of making a case for ageism at your company, or prepare to include that topic in your negotiations.
- Look for future employment: That company is not the only game in town. Do a quiet job search both for full-time work and also explore firms who provide lawyers on a contract basis. You might be able to build a consultancy and or piece together lucrative contract work.
- Reduce spending: Now, while you still have your full income, start saving. Try to reduce discretionary spending in anticipation of a layoff.
Mitch, this is not an easy situation but as the saying goes, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets going’. Please act on all five recommendations and let me know how you are doing. Just by knowing you are engaged in helping yourself, your fear should go down and your confidence should go up.
All the best,