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Five best ways to deal with pink slips

August 30, 2013 11:50 IST

Five best ways to deal with pink slips

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Shyamal Majumdar in Mumbai

No one seems to know where the term ‘pink slip’ originated.

The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the words were first used as a verb in a novel written in 1966 -- “his wife had left him the day after he was pink slipped.”

Others say its origin was an earlier practice under which each week’s wages came to workers in an envelope and anyone being laid off would find the cash in a pink envelope. And snopes.com quotes unverified reports as saying Ford Motor used to include a pink piece of paper in a worker’s cubbyhole if their standard of work was deemed to be unacceptable.

The source of the term has been a matter of much debate, but it is unlikely to be of any interest to a growing number of employees who are finding themselves at the receiving end of such slips.

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Photographs: Rediff Archives

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And many of their colleagues, who have escaped the pink slips, are in a state of ‘Is it my turn next?’

After all, losing a job ranks fifth in life’s most traumatic events and occupies an undisputed first place in work-related trauma.

If this sounds a bit over the top, ask the fired full-time employees of Educomp, Network 18, Siemens, etc and those whose contracts have not been renewed in a host of companies such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, etc.

Quite a few technology companies such as IBM and Cisco have also announced ‘global restructuring plans’ under which jobs may be cut in several countries including India.

And going by the gloomy mood in human resource departments, India Inc is revisiting the heavy lay-off policies of 2008, apart from limiting their hiring to only niche, specialised positions.

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Photographs: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

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That’s quite a departure from the mood even a couple of months ago when everybody focused on one key question: When will corporate India start hiring again?

Today, that is the wrong question to ask, with the confidence level taking quite a few hard knocks.

Most Indian companies are dialling back their 2008 experience and that has started bleeding into whatever they were planning earlier.

HR consultants say even companies that cut headcount aggressively during the earlier slowdown and thought they have little fat left to trim, are reviewing the situation.

So the tight belt is here to stay for some more time and that means more job losses.

So how do you prepare yourself for when you are let go?

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: India

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This may seem alien for many of us but the fact is that the job market now (slowdown or no slowdown) is vastly different from what it was even a few years back.

Technology has changed things beyond recognition, companies are relentlessly looking for cost efficiencies and competition for even 30-pluses has increased as younger colleagues can do the same work almost with equal efficiency at a lesser pay.

HR consultants list five points that may help you cope with the new reality in such a volatile economic situation.

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Photographs: Toru Hanai/Reuters
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First, it’s mandatory to plan an exit strategy even when you are getting into your first job. That means financial planning -- despite the EMI pressure, always set aside some money in an exit fund.

The goal is to cover at least a year’s worth of expenses in case of a job loss.

That would give you respite from fear -- the most common emotional state when the bad news strikes someone.

Second, be clear that job losses can never come as a surprise or disbelief.

Delivering a pink slip can hardly be a sudden decision on the part of a company.

Too many people are aware of the impending danger, but ignore the tell-tale signals since nobody wants to believe that his/her own head could be on the chopping block.

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Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters
Tags: EMI

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The way out is to start planning for your alternatives much before the boss suddenly starts giving you blank looks or stops interacting and when your inputs and recommendations are no longer solicited.

Third, don’t get emotional.

Wallowing in self-pity or seething over the fact that you just got fired is a sure way of not getting another job.

In any case, the office, specially the one which is asking you to leave, is not the best place to express your disappointment or anger as it’s a zero-sum game.

It’s better not to burn bridges, no matter how you may feel inside. For all you know, you may need references from your boss for your future job.

It’s important to take your next steps based on rational thought, not emotions.

Here is something that may help you keep your anger in check.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Research has shown that even cut-throat bosses hate laying off people and nobody would fire people if they could avoid it.

Fourth, and this is the most important one, when lay-off rumours start to fly, many people mistakenly hunker down in the hopes of becoming invisible.

That would hardly help since you are the best person to start thinking about your marketability.

HR consultants say networking and making new connections are no longer limited to in-person cocktail events; so building a good online profile could be your new calling card.

And fifth, before you want to sit in front of a potential new employer, you have to be clear on what you want to do next.

Therapists call it reframing -- it basically means taking a negative situation, thought or feeling and looking at it from a different perspective for some positive aspects.

This is a time to reassess your career path.



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