On May 1, 2017 Lockheed Martin Corp. will hand over the $2.6 billion contract to Honeywell International. So far the word on the street is a decent number of director level positions are being cut. Those aren’t entry-level positions for recent PhD’s. These are high level, high pay jobs that have taken decades of career development to reach. What do you do if your 20-30 year career just ended?

Time to face down reality

Stop Drop and Read

First, run don’t walk to Diane L. Coutu’s piece “How Resilience Works.” Some people are better at bouncing back than others. Coutu’s work seeks to understand those critical factors that separate the resilient from the weak soon to be career train wrecks. Let me be clear. Choose resilience! I have firsthand experience working with client’s that didn’t choose to bounce back, with long-term negative repercussions.


Face Down Reality

If you are like many at Sandia, you started working there as an intern or entry-level analyst back in your 20’s. It’s the only place you have ever worked, or worked in the last 10 years. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Lockheed Martin has held the contract since 1993. I joke with my Sandia Lab client’s that they are the last people I know with a pension and lifetime employment. It’s a great joke AFTER they retire. The reality is you probably have little experience finding another job for the simple reason you haven’t had to. Isn’t that why you went to work at Sandia in the first place? Decent pay, great benefits, and a legitimate national security excuse why you can’t answer your cell phone during the day (you know what I am talking about). Just accept that you are out of the loop, probably have had no reason to keep a LinkedIn profile, and have a very limited skill set.

Why me? Tell me about it . . .

Why Me

Honeywell is just trying to cut some costs. It’s not personal. So, why not try to find some meaning beyond being a line on a cost cutting spreadsheet. This is your chance to break free from the safety net you have had beneath you during your career. Remember to face down the reality that this is happening. Could this be the opportunity to work on a project that has real meaning to you? Is this the time to look at your career and ask what you want to accomplish over the next 10 years? Find that reason. The best part is that you get to make it up.

Honeywell not asking you to be part of the labs going forward doesn’t define your fate. I was once famously asked to leave Bear Stearns back in 2001. It looked bleak. I was upset. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Who cares if it took 7 years to realize this after that firm was demolished in the sub-prime market crash and employees lost their jobs and took over a 90% haircut on their equity stake. Already I had moved on, found meaning in my circumstances, and had a successful Registered Advisory Firm with loyal clients.

Make like Jagger and start me up.

Get On It

Financial triage is now. Call your financial advisor right now. Well, sort of. If your advisor is really a registered rep, or stockbroker that simply calls themselves a financial advisor, don’t waste your time. The only people that have the ability to help you holistically are independent registered investment advisors. Why? They are the only people in my industry that are legally required to only work in your best interests. Make sure they have the bare minimum credentials, the Certified Financial Planner designation. This is the basic starting point for young people in the industry. It simply means they took a few classes and passed a test. An advisor that has a CFP doesn’t mean they work in your best interests, but it weeds out the lesser players. If you can, demand a Chartered Financial Analyst. That is the international gold standard of portfolio management. If you can get both designations, it’s even better. Just don’t let someone actually manage your money without the CFA charter. It’s like a surgeon that never did a proper residency. 

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.
— Dr. Seuss

Now, put it all together. Face down the reality that this is happening and don’t be slow to start finding another place to add value. Figure out how far from retirement you really are. That is where I help people. Once you have your professional goals organized and your personal finances in order you can make better informed decisions on your next phase. Who knows, if you saved enough there may be the opportunity to do what you really love versus capturing the last dollar in front of the steamroller.