What If Your House Burned Down?

On the Fourth of July we were at an our traditional friend gathering about half an hour away from our house. It was a great evening to see friends I hadn’t seen for a while, relax after almost a full day of working in the yard, and eat some good old picnic/bbq food.

One family was missing because the kids were sick. But plenty of people where there, and it was fun.

After it was dark and we were sitting around chatting about this-and-that, one of the ladies noticed something on her phone and said “Do you guys know any Nelsons? Their house burned down…” It was news from someone close, and based on how the message was sent, we should have all known them.

Turns out the Nelsons were actually the Nielsens…! The family that was supposed to be there with us!!  What happened?

Here’s the front of the house… this is the “good” side:


Here’s the back of the house… you can see it was very serious from this view:


We weren’t sure, but this started a flurry of activity that has been amazing to watch. First, and most important, everyone was safe… Mom, Dad, and the seven kids (yes, seven. We have big families in Utah), and the three dogs. People were mobilizing, figuring out how they could help, making calls, sending out word on social media, etc.

The people we were with are the heart of a huge youth simulation, involving hundreds and hundreds of volunteers (of which the Nielsen family is an integral part of), and these people are the coordinators.  To watch them get in their groove and think about the many details of how to help this family was really cool.

Before I switch to job search / career mode, let me ask you to please donate $5 or $10 or whatever you can (but seriously, all the small donations add up, so give something) to this family. They have insurance but it’s so early that we don’t know how that is going to play out. What we do know is that there are nine people who have immediate needs, and your $5 will be well-used.  Here’s the gofundme page. I’m hoping that their insurance experience is delightful… the stuff commercials are made of. But I’m not holding my breath.

Click this image to donate $5, or whatever you can.


So, how is this related to YOU?

Many of my JibberJobber users feel like their career has burned down… getting fired, laid off, or however they lost their job is very traumatic… one of the most traumatic life experiences that you can go through.  And in all seriousness, people lose their lives. Some lose their savings, their direction, their purpose, etc.

On the other hand, some people find themselves. They get a much-needed pause, and get to reevaluate their direction and thinking. They recalibrate. They find new, real friends who become a big part of their life moving forward. They find work that is more meaningful and fulfilling than they were in before, and whether they make more or less money, they feel like they have gotten a second chance.  The transition was a turning point that was hard to go through but was well worth it.

I hope that your experience is like the last paragraph… and turns out amazing.  But let’s go back to that initial transition.

If my house burns down I’ll rely on my insurance company to come through with their promises. I worked with my insurance agent to get the right insurance, the right amount, and the right deductible.  Then, I paid my bills… I did my part so I could have peace of mind for when tragedy strikes.

What are you doing for your career management, for when tragedy strikes? I’m guessing it’s more likely that you’ll go through an unwanted job loss than lose your house in a fire. Yet while we prepare for the house loss, we are not preparing for the job transition.  Perhaps that’s because it’s easier to just buy the right insurance than it is to manage our career the right way).

Some of the things we might do to prepare for a job loss include having a nurtured professional network. And now we know that doesn’t mean we have a huge network of super strong relationships (thank goodness). But we shouldn’t be hermits in our career management.

We might also have a resume readyish. It doesn’t have to be polished, but at least have an outline and format (of course, you can download that from the web). Maybe you have a list of career accomplishments that you might use to create your resume, or for networking conversations, or interviews.

You should have reasonable savings… I had $1,000 in the bank for emergencies… on the Saturday after my job loss my two cars were in the shop… and it cost $1,000. Cool to have the funds, but not cool to lose them all in one day, on cars 🙁

Look, we don’t know when tragedy will strike. But we can start to prepare. You don’t have to get all your savings now, or add 200 people to your network now… but start doing a little bit now. A little today, and a little tomorrow, etc., will add up, so that when you need to tap into it, it is there and ready.  And you feel like you are in a little bit of control during a very chaotic period.

Good luck to the Nielsens, as they rebuild their lives, and to each of you, as you deal with your own personal tragedies. We can do this… with your fortitude, and with your friends and neighbors and communities.  We will rebuild.