Who Would You Reach Out to if You Got Laid Off?

Who are the 10 people you would reach out to if you got laid off? Reach out to them now, when you don’t need them for anything.

Sage advice from Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn) and Ben Casnocha, who discuss this issue in their book “The Start-Up of You,” a fascinating read that caught my eye recently. The authors take the Silicon Valley model of entrepreneurship, usually used to spur company growth, and apply it to an individual level. Like Silicon Valley for new companies, the career landscape is cluttered and uber-competitive these days. The career escalator can be a crowded one. Not so long ago, after graduation, you started at the bottom and slowly made your way to the top. The longer you rode that escalator, the higher your career rose. Now traditional job security of a generation ago, with people staying with one company for 10, 20, or 30 years is long gone. And in our digital world, seniority is no longer a main determinant of skills or success.

Given that you are likely to change jobs in the next two to three years, how do you take charge of your career now?

By becoming the CEO of you. “The key is to manage your career as if it were a start-up business: a living, breathing, growing start-up of you,” according to the book. Welcome to Me, Inc. And congrats, you are now the CEO.

How would you describe a start-up? Nimble; risk-taking; networked; future-oriented; finding a weakness in the marketplace and grabbing it; relentlessly assessing the competition; aware of their competitive weaknesses; constantly improving and growing?

Is that how you would describe yourself and your career? If not, what lessons can we learn from the start-up world that can help accelerate career growth?

Hoffman and Casnocha’s claim is that those same skills are what today’s professionals need to climb that corporate ladder. Their prescription is:

  • Adapt your career plans as you change, the people around you change, and industries change.
  • Develop a competitive advantage to win the best jobs and opportunities.
  • Strengthen your professional network by building powerful alliances and maintaining a diverse mix of relationships.
  • Find the unique breakout opportunities that massively accelerate career growth.
  • Take proactive risks to become more resilient to industry tsunamis.
  • Tap your network for information and intelligence that help you make smarter decisions.

Good lessons for all of us, whether we are at a Fortune 100 company or a 10-person start-up. The best practices of Silicon Valley can propel all of us. Entrepreneurship is about taking control of your life. I’ve been around entrepreneurs for over 15 years now, and have seen the volatility of the tech world. Yes, there is risk, but we all manage risk every day. The trick is to manage that risk, be prepared for that unpredictability, and use it to your advantage.

With the start of the new year, many people have their career situation on their mind. In fact, finding a new job is often called the number two New Year’s resolution (number one is to lose weight/get in shape/go to the gym – you’re on your own for that one!). In my business, Q1 is when we hear from lots of people who are checking things out and gathering business intelligence for their “start-up of you.” How do their accomplishments stack up against their competitors (and sometimes co-workers)? What is the market rate for compensation for someone at their level? If they want to move up that career escalator, is this the time? Can they compete and win at that level?

So, who are the 10 people you would call if you were laid off tomorrow? Take a page from “The Start-Up of You” and reach out to them now.

Related reading

Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.