Two things came together for me last week in an oddly coincidental way.

For the fourth time in the past month, I heard about a friend or acquaintance losing a job. These were not junior or inexperienced employees. They were senior-level managers or directors with significant experience. In each instance, these smart and talented people were the victims of company reorganizations. I offered my assistance to each person, hoping that I could help them find a good fit at another firm that would appreciate their skills and ideas.

Then, on Sunday, I received the weekly leadership blog post from my friend Michael Reuter, the former head of the leadership program at Seton Hall University. Mike’s posts are always filled with wisdom. And this week’s message was no different.

It started out “’What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly,’ writes Lao Tzu. These simple yet profound words carry within them a message of transformation, resilience and the beauty that emerges from the depths of change…(just) as the caterpillar surrenders to the process of change, embracing its chrysalis as an opportunity for growth, we too find recognition that within every perceived end lies the birthing of something magnificent. Like the butterfly, we have the inherent capacity to emerge from our struggles and soar gracefully into a world of beauty and limitless horizons.”

This week I thought back to the times jobs ended for me. While I was on a summer job in high school, I was fired after one day. It was not a good fit for me! Then I was let go from another summer job when I was too nice and allowed a teenager to skate past a company rule. After law school, two jobs ended when government grants expired and I resigned from one law firm job when I lost respect for my boss and realized I dreaded going in to work each morning.

As I gained more experience during several decades about the end of my own jobs and the ending of jobs for friends and colleagues, I learned a number of valuable lessons. When I was younger, I thought that the ending of jobs – whether coming naturally or involuntarily – was a terrible thing. Where would I find my next job? How would I look for a new job? Who might give me references?

As I grew older and wiser, I changed my paradigm. I realized that any change of jobs – whether anticipated or unanticipated – was not all terrible. It was also an opportunity – an opportunity to learn and grow. That sounds easier than it really is, but, like many times in life, our approach to the ending of one job and the search for our next job, depends heavily on the attitude we bring to the search process.

What can we do to adopt this “opportunity” mindset when we are seeking a new position? We can start by creating and sustaining certain habits while we are working:

-Keep a gratitude journal about elements of your job that you appreciate and review it from time to time

-Maintain an accomplishments list of your major achievements on the job, a list that always comes in handy when you are updating your cv

-Always remember to update your professional networking list, people you can call upon when you are in job search mode

-Keep a subset list of people within that network who are your true confidantes, your private “Board of Directors” who will always tell you the truth and help you look in the mirror

-Always maintain an updated CV just in case unforeseen professional opportunities arise

-Ask friends who are experienced and proficient with CVs to review and edit your CV

-Ask friends to review and edit your cover letters

-Prepare and distribute different CVs and cover letters tailored to the particular position to which you are applying

-Maintain a short list of reputable head-hunter firms just in case you might need them in the future
-Take advantage of professional association contacts and HR pages to periodically track openings at other organizations

-Do not be shy about asking for assistance when you are in job hunting mode – people like to help other people!

Just as we can ask for help from friends and colleagues when we are forced to seek a new beginning or choose to find a fresh start, we often find ourselves in the position of helping friends or colleagues who are seeking a new job. These may be people in our friend or professional network, colleagues who have worked for our same employer or even members of our own office team.

During the past several decades, I have had the good fortune to help other people find new and satisfying jobs. One of those most satisfying episodes occurred when I felt I had to fire a team member because his skills were no longer a fit for his job. However, I was able to help him find a new job nearby, a job that he maintained for 20 years and which brought him much meaning and satisfaction.

If you are in a position to help a friend or colleague find an appropriate new beginning, I urge you to do so. It will bring you much satisfaction. Help your friends or colleagues not only find a seat on the right bus, but to find the right seat on the right bus!

If you believe this content would resonate with a friend or colleague, please feel free to forward it along!