The 4 Things To Do Before You Lose Your Job

Author : Paolo Gallo
Are you ready?

Let’s start with the bad news. You will – I repeat – you will lose your job – or your current job will be so different in 3-5 years’ time at most that you won’t be able to do it with the skills and experience you have right now.

The good news: the journey to remaining relevant, to finding meaning, to re-inventing yourself and to finding a new job with purpose is a lot of fun, but it does take a lot of sweat and hard work, hence the smell.

Let me explain

why did I say that you are going to lose your job, at least the way it is designed and performed today? 

First: It has happened many times before. We will lose our jobs – and new jobs will be created  – due to the combined effect of 3 factors: The first one is the exponential speed of technological progress. Do you remember Moore’s law? In 1965 Gordon Moore predicted a doubling of technological progress every years. Well, he was not only right, he was also somewhat cautious in his predictions. Progress is getting faster exponentially, not sequentially.

Second : We have moved from the age of enlightenment to the age of entanglement: everything that matters now is in-tangled with everything else. Our problems are no longer only complicated but also complex: we therefore need to connect many dots and develop contextual intelligence and – guess what – collaboration.

Third: As a result we – we as human being- are changing as we move to an OMO society – a life where on-line meets off-line. We are becoming like mangroves, the only plants that grow in brackish water. The boundary between what is real life and what is on-line is blurring, as beautifully depicted by Akihiko Kondo who recently married a hologram.

So, if speed, complexity and mangroves are part of our future – the next context not the new normal – what can we do to remain relevant, have an impact, and find meaning? Having a job, as we know, is more than just collecting a salary at the end of the month. It is about our identity, our self-worth and our purpose.

Do you have a pet? 

98% of pet owners take care of their lovely creatures by doing what the vet recommends. Are you caring for your elderly parents or sick friends?  In 88% of the cases, we end up following the instructions given by the doctors. 

What about us? 

In only 38% of cases do we actually end up filling the prescription or following the advice the doctor gives us. So, how come we take care of our pets better than we take care of ourselves? How come we are more worried about charging our phone that re-charging ourselves?

So what is the very first thing to do when you lose your job  

– as Jordan Peterson brilliantly writes – 

To treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

Only by taking care of yourself first can you then look for a new job. Looking for a job is a full time job that requires positive energy.

So the question is: how can you remain relevant in the job market? How can you be sure that you don’t have to worry that one-day you will be “let go” and you won’t be able to re-enter the job market, desperate that you game is over?

This journey starts with a simple yet powerful question: 

What are you good at?

If you were a portfolio manager at a bank your job could be summarized in a few words ”to increase the value of the portfolio you are responsible for”. If for example you have to manage the wealth of your client, let’s say “100”, your client hopes and expects that the value will be higher in the future.  110? 120? This is irrelevant as in the long term; the client simply expects “more value”.

What if you were the Portfolio Manager of …yourself? The real question is, how do you increase your own value? How can you remain relevant? What is your real wealth, what are your assets, your capital, that you will need to increase? No, I am not referring to your bank account or whatever “fortune” you may have. I am referring to increasing your value as a professional. This is not a purely theoretical question: it is a truly relevant one. It will make the difference between being one of the people who are shaping the new context, who will remain relevant and employed.

In my former role as HR Director and current role as executive coach, I have noticed that most people confuse value with salary. Sure, there must be a correlation between the two, but if you focus exclusively on increasing your salary without increasing your value – and the value that you bring to the company or to the clients you work for – sooner or later you will find that you are too expensive for the job market and you will be left out.

How can we increase our value? 

We have 3 assets, 3 real types of Capital to curate, increase and protect.

Here’s the second thing you need to do, or better still, the second principle you need to laser focus on. You need to increase your knowledge capital.

“Knowledge Capital” –

It’s about what you know and what you have achieved. Learning is a mindset, not a nicely framed diploma gathering dust somewhere in the attic. To cope with machine learning we need to become learning machines. How? The point is that learning never stops. We need to keep on “sharpening the saw” as cleverly explained by Steve Convey in the 7 habits of highly effective people. But learning has to find some concrete application.

We need to distinguish between technical learning and personal learning, both equally important. The French call it “savoir faire” being able to do something and “savoir etre” to be someone, credible and sound.  

The first kind of learning can be complex – take for example learning to speak Chinese or to play the piano – but we can measure progress and follow pre-defined methodologies. Instead the second learning, personal learning, is difficult to measure and – by definition – is different from person to person.

But wait!  Just “knowing” is not enough – it has to be translated in actions. If I were to tell you that I know by heart all the recipes of Italian Cuisine – but I have never cooked a dish in my life, would you take me seriously? So knowledge capital needs to be paired with the results you have created – or co-created – and these results need to be real, measured, and tangible, not exaggerated or embellished.

The third element you need to focus on is increasing your Relationship Capital.

“Relationship Capital”

is about who you know. I called it the social capital we have, the network we have developed over the years. It is about building and curating a trusted network, not spending your time networking, as Marissa King wisely writes in her book “Social Chemistry.” How do you develop your network? It is not by having the highest number of followers on social media; the number of “followers” does not matter. In fact it is important to have several different networks that will allow you to gain different perspectives, insights and connections outside your bubble.  It is about being a “broker” – a person who is creating connections all the time among different people. These connections are based on Trust.

We can say that building a network is about being at the service of others. To a certain extent your social capital is like your bank account. You can make a ‘withdrawal’ only if you have made a deposit; if you have invested in building relationships based on trust. It does not work when people remember their relationships only when it is convenient for them and then disappear if they perceive that you can’t give them any value when they need it. You build a network because you care about others, not because you use others.

The 4th action you need to focus is to curate and defend your reputation.


is what people say about you when you are not there. If you think about it, it is about your ethical footprint. It is not about what you know, or what you achieve. Ethics is defined by what you are NOT prepared to do to achieve your objectives. Example. We want to advance in our careers, but not at all costs, we always want to behave like decent people.

It is important to remember the difference between visibility and credibility. Credibility is frequently confused with visibility, but they are 2 different things.  Reputation and credibility go hand in hand. We have moved from the information age to the reputation age: treat your reputation like the most precious asset you have.

To increase our value we need to increase the 3 types of capital we have: Knowledge, Relationship and Reputational capital. In fact there is a formula here that will help us remember this well

Your professional & personal value is equal to = (KNC+RLC) * RPC

Knowledge Capital plus Relationship Capital multiplied by your Reputation Capital is equal to your professional value.

Why do we multiply by reputational value? Because every number multiplied by zero is always equal to zero, in case we have any doubt about the real value of our Reputation.

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Author – Paolo Gallo is Adjunct Professor with Bocconi University, Founder Compass Consulting, Executive Coach Who look at how things might be after Covid-19

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