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What Happens When Your Department Is Downsized and You’re Not


What Happens When Your Department Is Downsized and You're Not

Being downsized is an awful experience. But keeping your job while everyone around you is downsized isn’t always much better.

At first, you might feel relieved that you still have a job to go to. You’ll also feel sympathy for the friends and colleagues who weren’t so lucky. But soon enough, you’re going to start to feel something different. You’re going to feel completely overwhelmed.

Dazed and confused

When your department is downsized and you’re not, two things typically happen.

First, you suddenly have a lot more work because you’re doing the work of two (or more!) people now. Everyone else you still work with is taking on a lot more, too, so you can’t exactly go to them for help. There’s so much to do, and you don’t know when or how you’re supposed to get it all done. This is the “dazed” phase of not being downsized.

Second, you’ll be taking on new and different types of work, because the colleagues who were let go likely had jobs that were different – although related – to the job you’ve been doing. You’re taking on new tasks that you’re not sure you know how to do. How are you supposed to learn it all when you’re already snowed under with work? Welcome to the “confused” phase of not being downsized.

No wonder you’re overwhelmed. One thing that could help you get through this massive change is focusing on the opportunities your expanded role creates.

Learn, network, repeat

Take advantage of this challenging time in your career to learn new skills, take courses and network with colleagues and experts who can help you do a great job in your new role.

Let’s look at an example of a copywriter who, because of downsizing, now has to manage the company blog and social media properties. We’ll call them Sam.

Sam is an excellent copywriter who has written plenty of blog posts, tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn updates and more. No problem there. But someone else has always taken care of the back-end: making sure the blog posts end up on the company website, finding photos for posts, scheduling tweets and other social media updates, and engaging with clients on social media.

The person who did all of those back-end functions is gone now, and Sam’s in charge of it all. This is a great opportunity for Sam to take a course on coding and to reach out to social media experts at other companies. If Sam can’t find a coding course in the area, there are online courses for almost everything now.

The coding course will teach Sam how to get posts up on the blog, choose and size photos that capture attention and troubleshoot issues as they arise. From other social media experts, Sam will learn the best time of day to post on various social media sites, how many times a day to post, how many hashtags is too many, how to handle client interactions on social media, and so much more.

Time to move on?

There are opportunities to be had, but we don’t want to sugarcoat this. Making time to network and take courses on top of an already increased workload won’t be easy. And over the long term, the increased workload could lead to burnout and resentment.

So Sam may end up looking for another job. Luckily, Sam now has a bunch of new contacts that will make the job search that much easier. Plus, Sam isn’t just a copywriter anymore, but a social media expert with coding skills, too. That’ll open up a world of possibilities.

You don’t have to be a copywriter to make this strategy work for you. Think about the types of skills and contacts you need in your new roles – and that would help you in the next stage of your career – and get to work on building them.

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