Layoffs can happen to anyone – from a star athlete to a star marketing ninja.
Even a player as talented and well-known as Peyton Manning, the only four-time MVP in the National Football League, can be let go, as he was last week. His career with the Indianapolis Colts spanned 14 years, ending when his contract was not renewed.
“In life and in sports, nothing lasts forever,” Manning said in an emotional press conference last week.
That’s true for jobs as well. Though the layoffs are not nearly as punishing as they were two years ago, companies are still paring payrolls. In the first two months of this year, companies announced 105,000 layoffs, or 18 percent more than in the same period of 2011, according to Challenger Gray Christmas.
Companies were restructuring or closing, and the biggest job cuts came in consumer product companies, transportation and retailers, Challenger reported last week.
So how does a star, or an experienced professional, regroup after being cut?
Jayne Mattson, senior vice president of Keystone Associates, helps managers and senior executives with new career exploration. Since Manning was let go last week, she has shared his setback with two other candidates who felt awful about losing their jobs. “Even the face of the franchise is not immune to being laid off,” she told them.
Mattson has some valuable suggestions for Manning and anyone who has been let go after an amazing career:
- Take time for yourself – and your future. You need a few days to mourn the loss and share your feelings with close friends. Then assess what you want next in your life and career. Consider your path, and what you really want to work towards. Think about your life story and legacy. Consider what else you want to accomplish beyond football or a career. What really matters most and will have the most lasting impact?
- Don’t rush into a quick decision. You may not want the first opportunity that shows up, or you may be playing on the wrong team. Take time to find out whether your desires mesh with their needs. Check their culture and values and see if they are good fits. This requires knowing your values and priorities. Also consider other career options beyond what you’ve already done; maybe Manning would want to become a football commentator or a coach.
- Develop a positive attitude. “This is a pivotal time in your life and career, where the transition can lead to better things,” she said. Other experts suggest resilience or adaptability as a key to managing these times.
She recommended a book called Transitions; Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges as useful to those who just lost their job after a long run.
Manning made it clear he wants to continue playing football, despite a number of neck injuries. And despite his sadness at leaving the Colts, he will become a free agent, and already his agent has fielded inquiries from five teams who may want to hire him, according to an ESPN report.
If you’re temporarily benched, take a tip from Manning and be generous and gracious as you depart and eager to get back in the game.