The Power of Alchemy: Helping Clients Recover from Downsizing

road ahead, horizon

By Lori Jazvac.

Years ago, the art of “alchemy” caught my attention and was instrumental in helping me transmute challenging experiences into positive ones, leading to personal growth and transformation. Alchemy is the “Hermetic science and art of causing change, both physically and spiritually.”

Alchemy, a practice that began in the middle ages, was shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Its practitioners mainly sought to turn ordinary metals into gold, a quest that has captured the imaginations of people for thousands of years. In modern times, we can think of alchemy as the process of turning something ordinary into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be easily explained. A simple example of alchemy in action would be an artist who is able to take a heap of scrap metal and turn it into a beautiful piece of art.

Downsizing, while never pleasant, could be described as an “ordinary” event in many workplaces. When it happens, it is often unexpected, leaving little time for preparation and strategic planning. But, it can be a blessing in disguise!

During the recession in 2008, many professionals were impacted by downsizings, which forced them to evaluate their career paths and step outside their comfort zones. In fact, a restructuring propelled me to make a career transition to the work I do now – guiding jobseekers in their career journeys towards greater success.

The stock market has been volatile. Recently, stocks have plummeted significantly – the largest drop in 2019 – sparking fears of a recession. The energy and automotive sectors have been impacted with job losses. Along with declining stocks, housing prices in Toronto and Vancouver reflect a slowing global economy. Managing debt is a common concern. In the next year or so, this chain of events could further affect certain jobs and industries, impacting workers and business owners globally.

However, I’ve learned that the best thing to do in the event of a downsizing is to forecast ahead, remain calm and proactive, and directly address challenges with a strategic plan.

With the right career coaching strategy, you can help clients recover from a downsizing and transition into a new role with greater confidence and peace of mind using 5 key tips:

1. Help your client to understand career change.

William Bridges’ Transition Model explains that transition begins with an ending and letting go of old beliefs, reframing the situation to transition into a neutral zone, and then embracing a new beginning.

The Change Cycle features 6 stages of change that people experience: Loss to Safety – Doubt to Reality– Discomfort to Motivation – Discovery to Perspective – Understanding to Awareness – Integration to Flexibility.

Using such models, we can coach our clients to develop new understandings and perspectives about change while navigating fears, reclaiming personal power, and redefining core values. As career professionals, we can help transition the client from a journey of fear, loss, and powerlessness to a brighter future reflective of courage and creativity to achieve purposeful goals.

2. Help your client to affirm firm goals, needs, and values.

Support your client in asserting their strengths, core skills, unique value, and accomplishments by discussing career milestones and challenges. This includes carving out a new vision/mission statement, including what kind of company, role, work environment, and organizational culture the client prefers. Consider:

  • What are your client’s short-term and long-term goals?
  • What problem does your client want to solve?
  • In what role, environment, and location would your client thrive?
  • Do they have the marketable skills required? Which skills need mastery?

The clearer the focus, the better prepared your client will be to pursue their career goal and identify meaningful opportunities.

3. Motivate your client to creatively brainstorm possibilities.

  • What is the next step in moving forward?
  • What does the labour market look like in the months and years ahead? What does this mean for your client and their career direction and growth?
  • Analyze the possibilities by weighing your client’s “assets” – certain skills, values, credentials, strengths, specialized experience, and key networks – in alignment with their career focus. What is needed for career fulfillment?
  • Are there other possibilities your client wants to explore such as remote work, entrepreneurialism, or independent contracting abroad? Encourage risk-taking.
  • How can any challenges or career-related gaps / obstacles be addressed and translated into fruitful opportunities?

Has your client worked for one company for a few years and is possibly thinking of exploring a new niche or industry? Research is essential in pinpointing labour market trends, identifying target companies, maximizing core strengths, and leveraging trusted supports as stepping stones to their next career move. Downsizings impact financial stability, so remind your clients to stay on top of their financial health.

4. Support your client in seeking out and cultivating networking opportunities.

Coach your client to make networking a central strategy in their job search through the hidden job market rather than competing with thousands of jobseekers online. Networking can help your client to gather helpful leads and ideas while also potentially increasing his or her confidence and providing moral support.

Have your client offer and receive mentoring by joining professional associations or engaging in community or team-building initiatives.

Refine your client’s brand by delivering creative career tools and resources as part of their brand marketing portfolio, starting with a new résumé and LinkedIn profile.

5. Create and execute a robust job-search action plan based on a holistic approach.

Inspire your client to drive his or her vision and purpose while maintaining momentum and due diligence. Assess the factors holistically shaping your client’s job search and career choices. Champion your client to dispel self-limiting myths and beliefs with positive affirmations. Encourage them to utilize their strengths and expertise as well as intuition to demonstrate value. Track progress for continuous improvement.

Your client may feel like giving up at times, but remind them to stay focused on their goal, acknowledge their successes, and guide them in unleashing their full potential.

Champion your clients to honour their unique value proposition. It is the compass that will propel them forward. There is no failure – only feedback – and important lessons learned. By helping clients to let go of the past and consciously step forward in an empowering direction, they’ll be able to embrace an exciting new career horizon.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully up the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

To help your clients successfully navigate a career transition, check out CPC’s career transition consulting course.

Lori A. Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash

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