Surviving An Employment Ambush


Employment ambushes happen every day to employees. Here is how to overcome the surprise and protect your economic well-being.
Mike Bowman   

Enemy ambushes are something soldiers train to deal with. Ambushes are often quite effective in warfare because they catch an opponent by surprise and in a comprising location (called the "kill zone" by the military). Because soldiers have no warning they are about to be fired upon, they are often unprepared for the chaos that ensues. While your office is probably not fatally dangerous, as an employee you may also unwittingly find yourself in an ambush one day. In fact, ambushes happen at work every day. No, we are not talking about workplace violence, but rather an event that can potentially harm an employee's financial well-being for years.

Employment Ambush
Given the economic turmoil workers have gone through since 2008 you've probably witnessed, or been a victim of, an employment ambush. While not deadly like a military ambush, an "employment ambush" can have devastating effects on your finances if not handled quickly and aggressively.

Here is how an employment ambush typically goes. An employee is at his work station completing his tasks, just as he always does, when a supervisor, Human Resources representative, or both approaches. They will ask the employee to stop working and follow them into an office or private location. The company representative tells the unassuming employee that his employment is being terminated and that he is to leave the premises immediately.

The employee had no idea this was about to happen. The day started off like every other day. All his peers were doing their normal chores. His supervisor hadn't given any indication at all that this news was coming. Now with his income terminated, the employee is in an extremely vulnerable position, economically speaking. What he does immediately after this event is very important.

There are many different reactions that people demonstrate when getting caught in an employment ambush, but fear is typically the most common. The laid off employee has terrifying questions running through his mind. "How will I take care of my kids?" "How am I going to tell my spouse?" "How will I pay for my house or car?" "How will I ever find another job?"

As the employee agonizes over these and other concerns, he becomes overwhelmed with fear. For someone who hasn't previously been through an employment ambush he probably doesn't realize that becoming terrorized with these thoughts is the absolute worst thing he can let happen. Fear has a paralyzing effect on people. It stops them from rationally assessing a situation and formulating a reasonable and effective plan of action to overcome the adversity they are facing.

When you are told you have just lost your paycheck, you simply have no time for fear. People who are fired or laid off should take the same aggressive initiative soldiers take when caught in an ambush. You have to put your fear aside for the moment and focus on your (economic) survival.

A better response.
You can imagine the fear a soldier caught in an enemy ambush might experience. The military recognizes, that in this extreme situation, itís perfectly natural to want to run away or hide. However, the military teaches soldiers to put fear aside and immediately fight back in an ambush.

Here is how the Army says to manage an enemy ambush:

Soldiers in the kill zone immediately return fire, take up covered positions, and throw fragmentation grenades or concussion and smoke grenades. Immediately after the grenades detonate, soldiers in the kill zone assault through the ambush using fire and movement.

The military does not say take a few days to calm down and collect your thoughts, use the opportunity to take some much needed time off from the daily grind, or debate with your friends why this is happening to you. The same theory soldiers use for fending off an unexpected attack also applies to regaining employment.

If you lose your job you should immediately go to work actively looking for a new opportunity. In this instance, itís more important to stop the bleeding, recover, and put yourself in position to find work that pays the same or better, than to find work that you truly love. Lean on every resource available to you. Don't dwell on fearful thoughts, rather fill your mind with ideas on how to get back to work right away. That will let you survive the event, minimize any economic or career damage, and come back stronger.

About the author Mike Bowman
Mike writes for, a website that makes small business ownership and personal finance fun and entertaining through the stories of real people. You can learn more about Mike on Linkedin.

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"Employment ambushes" happen every day to employees. If you lose your job you should immediately go to work actively looking for a new opportunity. Here is how to minimize the damage this kind of ambush can cause.


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