Losing your job can be such an emotional experience, yet redundancy is often badly managed by companies with little regard for the emotions of individuals.
It seems that the threat of redundancy is circulating in many major companies right now. With that threat comes worry and a massive sense of insecurity. No-one knows what is going to happen. No-one feels that they have any control over the decisions that are being made further up the food chain. Morale declines. Friends and colleagues know that it may come down to "you vs me". It's not a good place to be!
Whilst it is probably true that you have no control over what the outcome will be, you do have control over how you prepare yourself practically and emotionally. Here are five steps you can take to prepare yourself for whatever is coming.
1. Your Mindset
This is perhaps the most important part of this process. Whatever you think of the company you work for, or the process they are going through to cut staff, keep your opinions to yourself. You don't want to jeopardise your future with the company by being perceived as a troublemaker at this time. Remember, too, that it is your JOB that is being cut, not you as an individual, so don't lash out because you feel it is a personal insult. It is usually not a reflection of the person or their work, just the hard fact that a certain number and type of jobs are going to go and you may be part of the collatoral damage.
Work hard on not taking this personally because your belief in yourself is going to be very important in the next stage of rebuilding your career, whether that is at the same company when the redundancies are all over, or as you look for a new job.
2. Your Achievements
What have you achieved in your current job? Start creating a list of everything you have been involved with. List the projects you contributed to, and consider any major and minor achievements that you can claim. Achievements don't have to be big major awards; smaller achievements can be just as important if they illustrate the sort of person you are at work. Consider anything you have done that has made your workplace a better place because of what you did – new systems, new processes, improved relationships, better practices etc. Also consider the teams you have been part of and the contribution you made within those teams. "Soft skills" such as effective communication and working harmoniously with a diverse range of people are achievements that are seriously important in the overall workings of a business.
Value who you are and what you have contributed. This also contributes to boosting your belief in yourself. If you recognise your value you will proudly share this with potential future employers and will project an air of confidence.
3. Your Preferences
If it does happen that you lose your job what do you want to do next? Will you immediately start looking for another similar job? Or could this be a catalyst to propel you towards something that you have always wanted to do. Take time to think about this. Just because you have always done one job doesn't mean you can't make the effort to change direction if the opportunity presents. The easiest career direction changes happen when you get a simliar job in a different industry, or a different but related job in the same industry. This may be your chance to do something that you wouldn't have done if your so-called "secure" job didn't disappear.
If your job is not made redundant, are you happy to keep working in the same capacity at your current job? What impact will it have on your current job if many of your colleagues have gone and those who are left have to try to be productive with a skeleton staff?
You may be nearing retirement age, and this also can have a big impact on your preferences. Would you like to retire earlier than anticipated? Redundancy may be welcomed if you feel you are ready to leave and start a new phase of your life.
4. Your Resume
Now that you have recognised your achievements and preferences you are ready to update your resume, or get it updated professionally. Whilst we all know that our resumes should be kept up to date not many people actually do this, so this is a good opportunity to look at it critically and make the changes that are necessary. Trends change in resumes, so the document that suited your needs 5 years ago may not be completely appropriate now. If you want to aim for a different role you need to change the resume to show the links between what you have been doing and what you want to do. Your achievements should be carefully listed so that if shows you to be the person who would be outstanding in the position you want. And of course the resume and the cover letter should be adapted to meet the exact requirements of each job description you are responding to.
5. Your Network
If you know redundancies are inevitable you need to start reaching out to your network. Let the people who know what you are capable of…those you have worked with in the past, family, friends, colleagues you have met through professional associations, in fact anyone who values you and your skills…the sort of work you are looking for and even companies that you'd love to work for. What you are seeking is inside information about what jobs may be coming up and who you may be able to have a chat with to find out what is happening in your industry/profession/trade. At this point you are not looking for a job, just seeking information and putting yourself out into the marketplace "just in case". The funny thing is that by the time the company you work for makes a decision about who is staying and who is going you have may have already decided to that you no longer want to be employed by that company.
Your feedback and questions
Are you, or have you been, in the situation where redundancies are hanging over everyone like a storm cloud? How did you cope? What advice would you give to people in that situation?
You may have heard the rumours circulating at work that redundancies are about to be announced. You have heard and wondered, but you really don’t expect that your job will be affected. After all you know how hard you’ve worked and you believe that your work is valuable and valued. How could they just suddenly announce that the job no longer exists!
But the rumours persist and an unsettling feeling starts to creep in. What if you are about to lose your job! What will you do? How will you react? You imagine the worst…. when you are called into the office and the bad news is given to you. In your mind, especially at 3am in the morning, it is not a pretty sight!
How can you prepare so that you will be able to cope well if your job is made redundant? Here are 8 things you can do immediately to ensure that you are ready “just in case”, so that you can make this into an unexpected speed bump in life, not an incident that will define who you are.
By Jenni Proctor
Usually there are tell-tale signs leading up to a redundancy. For a start most employees hear whispers that there is going to be a restructing of the company long before it is publicly announced. With your ear to the ground you may find out details, but it is enough to know that change is afoot. These changes may not directly impact you, but as soon as there are changes around you there must inevitably be some change in your role. Even if your job is safe you will be dealing with the loss of colleagues or the support of people in positions that are no longer filled.
You may start to feel like you are a marked person, no longer being trusted or given the responsibilities that you had come to expect. You may feel that your work is being looked at more carefully, or catch comments about your role that seem odd or out of place. In a big company you may notice people that you don't know walking around or attending meetings when there is no obvious explanation. Sometimes it is just plain old-fashioned gut instinct that things aren't as they should be.
Don't be paranoid about it, but it is probably time to find out just what your entitlements would be if your job suddenly disappeared.
You might also like to view Facing Redundancy: 8 Positive Steps to Take to help you prepare yourself personally or read my article Facing Redundancy: 8 things to do if you think your job might be made redundant.
Complacency is one of the greatest enemies of the mature worker. If you aren’t growing in your role, learning new skills, open to new and better ways of doing things, you can be sure that someone else around you will be. Often people who are caught unaware by a redundancy recognize, too late to save their job, that they have not proactively adapted within their role or have not been attuned to the politics of what was happening around them.
Conversely, people who want to change their career direction are often so focused on escaping from their current situation and what they DON’T want that they overlook the important point of recognizing what it is that they do want to do.
Tony Robbins, the famous motivational speaker and coach, always asks the question, “What do you REALLY want?” It’s a deceptively simple question. Are you REALLY sure what you want from this next phase of your career? Take the time to consider what makes you happy with work, what you have enjoyed and disliked during your working life, and what gives you genuine satisfaction.
For some people, this is the time when they seek the help of a trained professional career counsellor or coach, while others consult their family and friends.
Family and friends, with the best intentions in the world, are not always the best people to help you through a career crisis. They know you in a different context, and they also have pre-formed ideas about what you are good at and “should” do. When someone tells you “You should do…” – RUN!
Their perspective reflects what they would choose to do in your circumstances. That does NOT mean it is the right thing for you to do. They are seeing you through their eyes, their values and their perspective of what you bring to the world, but no-one knows you as deeply as you know yourself.
Appreciate that they are genuinely trying to help you to see your situation more clearly and they mean well, but also realize that this is entirely your decision, to meet your specific and unique needs, wants, dreams, talents, skills and experience.
Here are five important strategies (eight really but several of them are variations of the same strategy) you should consider when preparing for your change of career direction. If you have kept up to date with the current employment market then some of these comments will seem trite to you, but you’d be surprised how many people ruin their chances for the employment they want by not being well prepared.
When I’m working with clients one of the first things we do is establish their unique criteria for work to be purposeful, pleasant and satisfying. That criteria then becomes the basis from which we analyze occupational ideas that they have had or jobs that are advertised.
Give yourself about 30 minutes and work through this exercise.
Jot down all the jobs you have had, paid and unpaid, throughout your life. This may even include work that you did many years ago, or in a voluntary capacity. Many great clues can lie in the jobs you do when you don't have to do them, or the jobs you did when you were a young traveller or student. You can start by asking yourself, “What did I really enjoy about this job? What did I dislike about this job?”
Do not include only the obvious things such as the sort of work you were doing, but also the environment, the type of people you worked with, the management style of your boss/es, the level of stress, the hours of work, and the office culture.
Do this for each job you have had, and soon you will end up with a fairly long list of preferences. Within that list there will be some patterns emerging. Recognize your patterns because in them lies the secret to the work that will be right for you.
You will notice that this list doesn’t involve occupational titles, just your preferences for all the factors that make work pleasant for you.
Obviously, employers are looking for the best person for their job. Therefore they will not spend time on applicants who do not obviously meet their requirements. So you need to become familiar with your local job market advertisements, the language, keywords used frequently, and how to read job ads to find out what they REALLY want.
Employers usually describe their preferred candidate profile in their job postings, but usually what they are really looking for is not directly stated. You need to learn how to read between the lines.
I suggest to clients that having a pen and a couple of highlighters works well at this stage of your job search. With the pen, underline the key words, those that really make you understand what the employer is looking for. Then use one colour to highlight the areas which match your qualifications and interests, and a different colour to highlight the selection criteria which match your achievements. If a large amount of the advertisement is coloured then it is worth putting in an application. If much of the highlighted area overlapped, that’s even better.
Of course sometimes the language used in selection criteria is subjective. When an employer is looking for a ‘dynamic’ person, what exactly does that mean? It may be code for ‘young’ or ‘good looking’ because discrimination legislation makes stating requirements that are discriminatory illegal in most countries. It could be that they want a dynamic personality who won’t be downtrodden by other more negative members of staff. Then again, they may simply want a strong vibrant person on staff for the energy and fun they will bring to the team.
You must broaden your search. The days of looking at job ads in a Saturday newspaper are long gone. In this digital age, internet and mobile technology are heavily used for job postings. Online sites offer thousands of jobs and such ads can come and go at any time. Online job boards usually enable you to set up job alerts enabling you to have jobs that meet your criteria emailed to you. You list the keywords related to the work you are after and each time a new ad appears in your field it appears in your inbox. The job ads find you. Hopefully, you are also starting to notice trends about where and when the jobs you are interested in are being advertised and the recruitment agencies that specialize in specific industries.
Be proactive! Are you aware that more than half of job vacancies are filled without job ads? This usually happens through internal appointments, people making their availability known to an organization they would like to work for, and through networking. Recruitment can be a painful and expensive process so if a good applicant is available, ready and willing to take the job, the recruitment process is often bypassed altogether.
Changing your job may be possible within your current organization. In fact this is one of the least disruptive ways to change career. You have all the advantages on your side. You know the ins-and-outs within the organization, and people there know you. However you need to let the right people know that you are seeking a change of position within the organization.
Networking is a timeless strategy where knowing a person can be to your advantage, indeed can open doors for you. Let’s say you want a career change, and you know someone from your sporting club, church, service club or neighborhood that works in that industry. You could approach that person and discuss your decision to change career. Just one connection that introduces you to the right people or tells you about possible opportunities within an organization could be pivotal to your career move.
Of course if you don’t know anyone in your proposed new field you need to spend time where they congregate so you can get to know them. Join an association, go to social functions, play a sport or anything that it takes to get to know people in any industry. Connections with people are often the key to successful career change. So, network – Connect with people.
Another alternative is to approach organisations and introduce yourself, in person or by telephone. There may not be a specific job which they are currently advertising but if a company gets an impressive résumé from you demonstrating all the attributes they are seeking within their business, and you have impressed them when you made contact with them, you could well be the person they call when a vacancy does arise.
However don’t waste your time and energy. Research any company you have considered contacting to make sure you would like to work for them and you suit their employment requirements. Don’t send your résumé as an accountant to a firm which sub-contracts their financial activities. However, if there are companies that particularly suit what you are looking for by all means make personal contact. Many managers will file a résumé they like and make contact if a job arises. It’s a win-win situation because the employer doesn’t have to advertise, and you have an advantage of them knowing about you if a position arises.
When I had small children, before I made my big career change, I decided on the spur of the moment (it must have been a bad day with the kids!) to send my résumé to every school in a five kilometre radius of our home seeking a job as a teacher librarian. I wanted a couple of days’ work each week but didn’t want to travel for more than 15 minutes as I didn’t want to be far from the child care centre. The very next morning at a nearby school the teacher librarian carried the Principal’s mail into her office as she arrived for a meeting to hand in her resignation. She discussed her pending resignation and left the office. The Principal opened the mail on her desk and there was a résumé from an experienced applicant – me! Good timing!
4.4 Accessing the hidden job market through LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a wonderful way to develop your network, to connect with people who may be able to assist you with information, to find out about jobs that are available, and to raise your profile for employers and recruiters. You are very welcome to download my guide LinkedIn: How To Crack The Hidden Job Market to assist you with this process.
Only apply for those jobs for which you are well suited, qualified and genuinely interested. It seems harsh to tell you that you shouldn’t apply for some jobs, especially if you are feeling rather desperate for work. However if you are not suited to a particular job why apply for it? Don’t waste your time!
Always tailor your resume and cover letter for every application you are making. If it is worth applying it is worth making sure the application is the best it can be. If your application doesn’t show that you are appropriate for the job it will be rejected at the first read. You will have wasted time in making the application and a rejection can chip away at your self-esteem.
In summary it is vital that you prepare for any job search, particularly if it involves some element of career change…..a new industry or a different role in the same industry. You deserve to give yourself the best possible chance, so take the time to be fully prepared.
These Career Power Posts are a compilation of the articles I consider to be the most important and helpful career-related posts on Boomers Next Step written over the last couple of years. If you don’t find the information you need contact me and I’ll write a post to address your specific questions or concerns.
We recently enjoyed a brief road trip around the central part of the North Island of New Zealand. The scenery was spectacular, the food was world class and it was a wonderful way to relax and re-energise. The Coromandel Peninsula is an area of New Zealand we had never visited before.
I puzzled about why, when I was a 19 year old backpacker travelling New Zealand with my friend Suellen, we didn't go to this area. I soon realised that we'd probably been advised not to go there because we were hitch-hiking (oh yes, those were the days of being 10 feet tall and bullet proof!). It is an area where any lift would have to take you to the next 'big' town because there was nothing in between.
Fast forward to now and we relished being in such lush countryside driving through predominantly dairy and fruit farms, observing the bee hives carefully tended on most produce farms, the pigs, ostriches and alpacas. In other parts of the peninsula we drove through lush rain forest and beside stunning coastal scenery, more beautiful than anything I've seen anywhere.
The highlight was taking a cruise at Whitianga. Ken from Cathedral Cove Scenic Tours was the perfect host, knowledgeable, fun and aware of each of his clients, making sure we got the photos we wanted, were warm enough etc…… All the little things that make for an enjoyable tourist experience.
With my professional interest in career change and my personal interest in people's stories I couldn't help but ask him how he came to be doing this work. With delight he told me that he and his wife had always planned to move to this area but a redundancy hastened the process. Rather than moving five years later, as planned, they made the move to the Coromandel Peninsula and bought the tourist boat business. He looked at me and said, almost in a boyish way, "This is my work. This is what I do every day. How lucky am I!"
He had no idea that my professional life is spent helping people make major career changes, nor did he know what joy those words would give me. If only everyone could feel that way about their work!
Undeniably, where he works is spectacular. Enjoy these photos taken on the cruise, which includes Cathedral Cove and other scenery which was featured in movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
The major construction company Thiess has sent out text messages to staff working on a specific project to tell them that their services are no longer required. The message was factual, offering information updates, a contact email and phone number, and finish dates.
Redundancy carries with it so many levels of emotions, unique for each person. There is the obvious sense of “I’ve worked hard for them and they don’t want me any more”…and that hurts. That emotion occurs for most people, irrespective of whether they love or hate their job.
For most there is the worry about what will happen next. Will I find another suitable job? Will I have to move to get work, and what will that mean for my family? What if I never get another job that is paying the same money or using my skills?
It’s not always bad. For a few people, redundancy is welcomed as they were already thinking about moving on or retiring and the redundancy becomes a clean fast-tracking of the process, with an unexpected windfall. For others it becomes the catalyst to leave their comfort zone and try something new, even something exciting that they may not have tried if they had stayed in their job.
Each person who receives news that their position has been made redundant is an individual who deserves to be treated with respect, to be (even if it seems insincere at the time) reassured that their work has been valued and valuable to the company, and to be given the opportunity to talk through their future plans with a qualified and experienced career professional.
If you know that the company you work for is about to restructure, and talk of redundancies is swirling around your workplace, there are actions you can take to prepare yourself for the inevitable. By being properly prepared you give yourself the best possible chance of embracing this change and making it be a turning point that you look back on with pleasure not pain.
Hopefully other companies will learn from this major Theiss PR mistake and handle their redundancies with more empathy and tact than has been evident in this situation.
In Australia the share market and property market are looking stronger, and it seems that baby boomers may be feeling the love!
Around 5 years after the GFC encouraged many people to continue working longer than they had anticipated so they could continue to add to their superannuation, baby boomers seem to have regained confidence in their ability to fund their retirement.
According to the Australian Financial Review (12-13 October 2013) an analysis of labour market data has suggested that people aged 60+ are leaving the workforce at a higher rate than younger workers. Mr Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital, was quoted as saying
“They’re not giving up work because they’re discouraged by the jobs market. They’re giving up work because they feel they are comfortable enough to retire.”
Do you think people have been hanging out for an improvement in their finances before they had the confidence to retire? Or is it that the bump of baby boomers is moving forward and many are now reaching 60 and are ready to retire, just as they had planned to do?
Perhaps there is a tipping point, when everything comes together to make retirement seem like the best option. Perhaps it is as we expect, when the alignment of finances, family responsibilities, and readiness to leave work all come together. Others may need the push of a redundancy, and to realize it is the right time to go. Maybe a secondary income enables you to move from a traditional job to a different way of working. It could even be a sudden windfall – lottery, inheritance, a successful investment.
I suspect for me it is financial security…Do we have enough to live comfortably for the next 30 years? That question in itself shows both profound optimism and some pessimism, but let's go with the optimism and presume we have 30 years to worry about! There is also a bit of "I'm not sure I want to completely retire" thrown into that mix as well, an awareness that I enjoy my work and would like some of my work to be part of my next stage of life.
What was, or will be, your tipping point to decide that you have the confidence to retire from your main source of income?
Over the last few years many people have been affected by severe career shifts caused by redundancy or problems within the company that employed them.
Redundancy brings with it many profound emotions. There is the initial shock. Even if you have warning that staff cuts were coming, few people presume that they will be the one to go. There is the worry that this causes for the individual and their family, sometimes compounded by the grief of leaving friends and perceived security. For some people there is a sense of anger at the company or at the individual who has made this decision, and indignation expressed as ‘Why me? Why not someone else who didn’t work as hard?”
In contrast there is often a sense of relief that the deed has finally been done and that you now know where you stand. I’ve known situations where redundancy was a cause for celebration, a granting of freedom.
Of course there is no emotional value in redundancy. It is how you react to it that counts!
At the same time, many who haven’t had career shift thrust upon them have wanted to make a change in their working life because the changes around them made them feel discontent or anxious that they’d be the next to go.
After some time in the same job, same role or with the same organization it is natural to feel like it is time for a change. But for those of us who are identified as being part of the baby boomer generation it may also be an age-related career shift. You know you have so much more to offer, so many things to do, so many experiences still to have and they aren’t going to happen where you are currently working!
My clients express their disappointment at their current working life, realizing that perhaps this is a good as it gets. Some just put up with the current situation for years, quietly resigned that they have to keep working to a particular age when they will be free of work. Many feel that they are not valued in their work environment, while others recognize that they have changed and what they are doing is no longer the right sort of work for them.
Whilst some people are making a career shift away from what is making them unhappy, overwhelmed and uncomfortable, others choose to make a career shift to a better situation. It may be a job that they have always wanted. For many other people it is an entrepreneurial experience that they are seeking, an expression of something they really want to try in their lives.
A phrase I hear often from my career coaching clients is “It’s my time now and I want to do the things that I love to do, not just the things I’ve been doing for years.” They are looking for the right fit, where their work is congruent with who they know themselves to be. Fulfillment and purpose is the magic combination that they are seeking, packaged with an appropriate salary and good conditions.
So if you are in this situation, seeking a career shift but not sure how to achieve it, subscribe to our RSS feed over the next few weeks I’ll be guiding you through the best way to make a career change in this current employment climate. We will be looking at how you can make a major career decision with confidence and how to market yourself effectively through your resume, cover letters, interviews and LinkedIn. I’ll share how you can tap into the hidden job market successfully and how to handle your own mindset during your time of career uncertainty.
By Jenni Proctor
Many employers nowadays, find it is quicker and less costly to use temporary staff provided by a temp agency for the purpose of filling a short term vacancy. It can also save the employer the considerable expense of going through the recruitment advertising process. The employer saves time and money and the agency provides a temporary member of staff for a fixed fee.
Individuals looking for work permanent or temporary these days may find it difficult due to the economic situation. The days when it was possible to leave one job and walk straight into another have long gone. The whole focus on employment has changed and through no fault of their own, individuals can find themselves out of a job. Or it could be that they have just left school or college and are looking for their first real job opportunity.
However, the longer someone is out of work the harder it may be for them to find another position. As many employers believe that skills and experience can very quickly become obsolete if someone has not worked for even a couple of months. Some employers still work on the assumption that if you have been released from a job for whatever reason, even redundancy, it leaves a question mark over your competence and reliability.
Signing up with a reputable temporary placement agency is a good way to keep skills up to date and relevant. Depending on qualifications and work experience there are industry specific and professional career path recruitment agencies. It is a good way to gain that all important work experience that some individuals may not have had.
In addition to placing people in temporary jobs, agencies have a wide range of services to offer. Individuals are given opportunities that help them develop new skills and to widen their skills base. Individuals who have contracted with them will have the opportunity to access all their services for continual personal development
There is often one to one support on hand to help prepare a professional resume and to prepare for interviews. On completion of a temporary position, they will provide an opportunity for both the individual and the employer to provide constructive feedback on the contract. Good feedback can open up further temporary opportunities for the individual.
Some individuals prefer the benefits of the temporary work to finding a full time permanent position. It allows them a fair amount of flexibility as to when they work and when they do not, making it easier to fit around family commitments. It provides variety and new challenges on an almost daily basis. It can be a real bonus if at some time in the future you want to apply for full time work with a company you have been placed with previously.
Temping is not for everyone, particularly if they are seeking a permanent position. They may find it difficult to adapt quickly to new environments and tasks, which is crucial when taking on temporary positions. The income can be irregular. But for most the opportunities for development and learning that are an inherent part of working for a temp agency far outweigh the disadvantages.
Since 1951, permanent recruitment agencies has assisted organizations efficiently and effectively relize targeted objectives.