What Do You Do When Your Career Suddenly Gets Cancelled?

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Oct 20, 2014

“I would advise all of them if they find another career, take it and do not look back.”

This statement came from a captain in a local police force. He was referencing the layoffs that had hampered the police department in a large East Coast city.

Close to 200 officers had been laid off, and according to the newspaper article, only a handful had been rehired back into their career of law enforcement.

Sorry but your career is cancelled

As I read this, my thought was this: What happens when your career is cancelled? What happens when demand outstrips supply? What happens when union rules state that seniority trumps all else in calling back workers? What happens when the job of your dreams just disappears?

As the article continued, some of the laid off workers had become UPS workers, cashiers, pizza delivery people — but all still waiting for that call that would return them to their lifelong dream.

At one time, government workers, whether federal, state and city, were basically immune to layoffs. It was probably the only career that you could enter either after college or high school and retire many years later. New York City police had a 20 years and out rule. So theoretically, you could become a policeman at 20 years old and retire at 40 with a nice pension and start another career.

Sadly those days are over, and in a lot of cases, will never return.

In the Middle East, the dream job is to get into the government. That, to a vast majority of the people, is the ideal scenario.

The government, in a lot of cases, works at a pace that is conducive to a lot of individuals. You get loads of time off and working hours are not stringent. My former HR coordinator jumped at the opportunity to land that kind of a dream job.

Making a decision at the crossroad

But if your career utopia is in the private sector, you really do not have a lot of choices if you find that the skill set has changed or that technology is slowly making what you do obsolete.

So what do we do in this type of situation? Do we hold out and wait until you can’t wait any longer?

In every career, there will always be horizontal extensions. If you are a policeman, with all that training, that skill can work in the private sector. If you are working in a large city, there are numerous private security — building security, corporate security — positions.

The key is taking the skills that worked in government and move them laterally. For every government position, there’s a likelihood that the job exists in the corporate environment in some capacity

There has also been a tremendous amount of talk about the impending layoffs at the U.S. postal service. This was surely supposed to be a job for life, but no more.

However, the skill of the mail handler can also be horizontally moved. With the advent of private postal companies where people rent mail boxes, FedEx and UPS are all options for postal workers. Not only that, but every large company has a mail department which, in a lot of cases, would rival a postal facility.

A blessing in disguise

The skills from your previous careers do not have to be abandoned. It is understood that these alternatives will not cure the unemployment dilemma, but what it should show is that if you are passionate about your career choice, there are alternatives.

However, this could be the time of your life that you have been waiting for. You always had that thought in the back of your mind that someday you would follow that dream. Well, now is the time to research that option.

I would suggest that you do not waste time when looking to change your options. Look for opportunities that would allow you to move into another direction.

That could mean volunteering your services to get a sense of what it’s like to actually do it. Reach out to someone who could give you a bird’s eye view of the industry or profession of your choice. The Internet can give you more material than you could possibly imagine to further your knowledge.

The moral of a cancelled career is that you must have some type plan because a lot of these positions will not be showing up in job postings any time soon. For that reason, you can’t afford to wait.

Getting your wake-up call

Everyone today — whether you are a public employee or a private worker — has no guarantee. I have always said that this economy climate today is a wake-up call for all employed people. It is a wake-up because the alarm going off and letting you know that you are in charge now and you can’t wait for anyone, or any organization, to help guide it for you.

So if your career has been cancelled, do not despair; just move to the other side or begin the transition into a new one.

It may not be that easy, but you have no other choice.