When to start career counseling? Before The Crisis

Mike said he was the only guy he knew that had worked at the same company for over 20 years. Having been hired out of college, Mike was on his 22nd year in the same company. While working out of his home office in Madison, Connecticut, Mike had a sales position that usually put him on a plane or train or car for some portion of most weeks. Always on the go, Mike didn’t give much thought to what else to do for a career while his company and Mike’s income thrived. Mike did well in his twenties and through the first part of his thirties.

Then as the economy sputtered, Mike’s income flattened. He saw the signs – how could he not?! – that lifetime employment was probably not likely at this company. Friends were let go, some divisions were jettisoned, and he heard rumors about his own division. But Mike had always performed above expectations, had a good relationship with his boss, and, even better, a great relationship with his boss’s boss. So Mike just buried his hand in the sand and worked harder, figuring that his good work would lead to lifetime employment.

Mike’s first worry occurred when his protector (his boss’s boss) left the company. Officially, he resigned but Mike was told that it was more of a forced resignation. Still, Mike made no moves to meet with a career counselor or start a job search. He should have done something immediately. His next worry occurred when travel was cut back (good!) but in the context of serious cost cutting (bad). He should have started career planning then but still dug in as he thought “if I keep doing a good job…” His next worry was short-lived – a major client of Mike’s had its own financial troubles and had to terminate its relationship with Mike’s company – because he heard the news almost simultaneously with being called into his boss’s office and hearing the words… “we have to let you go.”

When he met me, he said what so many have before: “I should have met you before the crisis.”