If you suddenly find yourself out of work, due to redundancy or other unexpected changes, you are likely to have a range of emotions, anywhere from despair to elation. Regardless of whether you wanted, or even expected this sudden change, there are ways to get the most from this time, and get back in charge of your career. These twelve tips can help you feel in control again.
1. Look after yourself
First and foremost, focus on some self-care! Whether you left a job because it wasn’t right, or you were suddenly let go, it’s likely that you’re feeling some degree of anxiety or stress about your finances, your career, your goals etc. You may be feeling a bit depressed, wondering why this has happened to you. It’s important to look after the key elements of rest, diet and exercise, and be aware of any changes in your mood that suggest it’s all getting on top of you. Beyond Blue is a great resource for information on anxiety, stress and depression, and has suggestions to help you look after your well-being. Try to stick to a good sleep routine; get enough sleep but resist the temptation to do late nights and lie-ins as ‘there’s nothing to get up for’. Start the day with a morning walk or other exercise that you enjoy. Use a calendar to schedule job hunting, resume writing etc. Take the opportunity to learn some new healthy recipes to cook.
Exercise financial and budget restraint. If you received a redundancy payment, don’t assume that you can splurge and go on a spending spree. While you might think you’re going to walk straight into another job this may not happen, and overspending could lead to you having to take a job you don’t really want, therefore missing out on having this opportunity to reflect, and look at other career options. Get financial advice on how to manage any large redundancy payments, work out a viable household budget, and use apps to track your spending.
3. What is your ideal job?
Spend some time thinking about “what do you want to be now you’re grown up?” What did you like/not like in your old job? What was your “dinner party spiel” – when someone asked “what do you do?” how did you describe your job, what were the key things that gave you pride and satisfaction in your work? Think about what you enjoy and keep doing those things if possible; are there any opportunities to work for yourself, or to turn a hobby or a side hustle into a job?
4. Update your resume
Also update your LinkedIn profile, and make sure it aligns with your resume (CV). It’s useful to develop one core resume that has all of your relevant information and experience, and adapt that to different roles you’re applying for. Do the same with a cover letter; have a master document that has paragraphs setting out the key skills for your job or your industry, and how you have demonstrated them.
5. Rehearse great application or interview responses
Think of and rehearse examples of situations, tasks or projects where you’ve used these key skills, it’s useful to have them written out ready to use in job applications, and rehearse them verbally as part of practising your interview skills, or in preparing to phone a recruiter about a job you’re interested. Also have your ‘elevator pitch’ ready ahead of phone calls, and ensure you’ve done some research on the job and the company so you feel prepared and sound professional.
6. Target jobs/companies you’re interested in
Use LinkedIn, and job websites such as Seek to see what opportunities are out there. Use your network to find out about potential roles or upcoming projects or developments in your industry. Research – are there recruitment agencies who seem to specialise in your work? Talk to them and get on their books and into their awareness, so they are more likely to think of you if a role comes up that would be a good match for your skills.
7. Stay connected
Keep in contact with your former colleagues, including any still in your old workplace, and others who have left. Those still in the workplace might want to give you a reference or have contacts in other organisations that could use your skills. They may also be feeling a form of ‘survivors’ guilt’ from being the ones still with their jobs, so you have an opportunity to help them too!
If you already have a mentor, reach out to them for advice and support on career direction, job hunting advice, access to their network etc. If you didn’t have a mentor use this opportunity to find one and perhaps consider becoming a mentor yourself; once you’ve successfully navigated a redundancy or career change, you could be a great resource to help others through change.
Is there any training you would like to do now you’ve got time? For example, short courses targeting specific skills, look at online options, look at job training agencies for more hands-on skills. It’s good to develop new skills, both as a way to remind yourself that you have the ability to keep learning and can adapt to change, and to demonstrate your work ethic and willingness to learn to prospective new employers.
10. Work experience or volunteering
As with training, this can help you in learning and demonstrating new skills, showing your work ethic, and can support your morale if the job hunt is harder than you had hoped.
11. Be organised
Keep track of who you have contacted and what jobs you’re applying for; a simple spreadsheet can help, and if you use Seek then your profile can track your job applications.
12. And finally, ask for help
Think of the support you can get from your friends and family. For example, a good resume goes a long way so if you have a friend or family member who’s good at this stuff, ask them to check yours and make suggestions to improve it. Or get professional resume writing; it can be a great investment. Get help with interview skills, and practice. Let friends and family know you’re looking for a job; or run business ideas past savvy friends. If you have an idea for a new product or service would they buy what you’re selling, and how much would they pay for it? People generally want to help; and the more specific you can be with requests for help, the better.
And of course I’m happy to help too; if you want further advice or support, please get in touch. Thanks for reading; Louise @ Cara Counselling.