Let me provide you with a reality check and a quick snap shot on the fundamentals around job search. Yes, everyone in the career and recruitment game has a theory or a view around the key steps to finding a job. I have read most of them and I find them to be much the same with slight variations. The following are the foundations mentioned in my book that were developed through my own personal experience. I can break it down into 5 key critical success factors:
- Successful job search skills knowledge
- Strong financial management initiatives
- Flexible and open career re-assessment
- Mental toughness and a strong belief system
- Managing your current job.
Successful Job Search Skills Knowledge
Key Success Factor Number 1
Your very first objective when you have lost your job is to get another job. Now that may sound a bit straightforward but it isn’t. To get another job today requires special knowledge and skill.
This is because in most situations, redundancy falls during times of economic slowdown, rising unemployment resulting in fewer jobs and greater competition. Labour economists call this an ‘oversupply of labour’ and this will cause an imbalance in the labour market favouring employers. That’s right – employers can pick and chose whomever they like and they know it. I think that competition is a key word here, because just like any other competitive scenario, nobody remembers who came second.
Your job search knowledge must consist of the following areas of competence:
- Ability to tap into the hidden job market
- Successful behavioural interview skills
- Good letter writing ability with a marketable resume
- Strong belief in yourself and mental stamina.
Successful job search skills knowledge is critical and my book focuses heavily on this key area. I have covered all of the above areas of competence in separate chapters so that you can easily move from one key activity to another. Your ability to network with others and perform well at interviews will be paramount.
Your ability to write good covering letters and have a well-written up-to-date resume is equally important.
Strong Financial Management Initiatives
Key Success Factor Number 2
Money management is certainly an area of great stress during redundancy or loss of job. This is because your comfort zone has been taken away from you. The weekly or fortnightly pay you have relied upon is no longer there and you are concerned about where your next pay is coming from. I have seen this scenario cause great stress to people with debts, mortgages, and young families particularly where there is only a single income earner.
I have always felt a correlation with money management and the ability to focus on getting a job. If you can take the pressure of monetary matters away from you for a short time then your ability to focus on job hunting improves significantly. The distraction of money worries does not help you focus on interview performance and getting that job. You may become desperate and make the wrong career move in the name of security. You must focus on managing your money immediately after a job loss and here are 10 financial tips to get you started:
- Speak to your bank about lowering your mortgage repayments immediately. You will find that over the years you have probably increased your repayments either deliberately or through interest rate reductions. Pay the minimum amount possible for now and forget about paying your house off sooner. That is not a priority now and you must review your financial objectives.
- With your redundancy payment pay-off credit card debt either in part or full and decrease the number of bills and interest you must pay monthly.
- Eliminate all unnecessary spending. All those nice things to have such as pay television, domestic servants, magazine subscriptions and memberships should be reviewed.
- If you have money tied up in investments such as shares or fixed interest term deposits, withdraw this money either in part or full and create a buffer zone for emergencies. Hold this money in an everyday ‘at call’ account for psychological security. This buffer zone will make you feel more secure and comfortable and allow you to focus on job hunting.
- Watch your spending and don’t behave as though you are still employed. This is the toughest part because it involves changing your lifestyle and habits. Holidays, clothes and any other regular purchases such as household items and entertainment expenses must be slashed. Believe me, they are not important now and you will survive until things are back on track again.
- Be economical with controllable household utilities expenses such as gas, electricity, telephone and your food budget. I managed to save $150 a month on food for my family by just watching for price specials, comparing prices and being more selective.
- Create a strict budget that is achievable and try to work within it. It will help you stick to targets and operate within set budget guidelines.
- Apply for social security payments. The money will not be enough to live on but it will stretch your savings further buying you more time for job search.
- If your finances become too tight prepare to refinance your home as the last resort. Again, this is not a preferred option but the key to job success is time.
- Talk about the prospects of borrowing money from family only if necessary. You will need a very supportive family for this and be prepared to pay them back when you get a job.
Flexible and Open Career Re-Assessment
Key Success Factor Number 3
My advice in this instance is get out of your comfort zone whatever you do! Too many people I have helped in their career transition have hindered their job search prospects by sticking to old beliefs and methods of approach. It has to do with familiarity and what people know best, a type of comfort zone holding you prisoner within an electric fence. Once you have lost your job your life will change from despair to opportunity.
I say this because it’s a perfect opportunity to try something new and different. That’s right, you have nothing to lose now and you can experiment and try new ideas and concepts. Stretch yourself and become excited with the thought that everything you have always dreamed of doing outside your steady and regular job has now arrived. It is time to try to test new ideas, experiment with new concepts or see where your hobbies will take you. I commenced writing my book to keep me busy when I lost my job.
Key success factor 3 is about open career re-assessment. To sit down and analyse your career options carefully rather than focusing on getting back to your regular day job or profession that you have been working for so many years.
It is time for a break and a re-assessment of your career wants and needs. In this book I dedicate a chapter to career options. I recommended that you consider a variety of options such as:
- Starting your own business or franchise
- Developing a new concept, idea or invention
- Consider going back to school and undertaking further studies
- Develop your hobbies into a potential income source
- Try a new career in a totally different industry and/or profession
- Take a sabbatical and enjoy the beautiful pleasures of the world.
Whatever you decide to do, flexibility in thought and total career re-assessment will enable you to increase your options in life. When you are in career transition mode I can easily teach you job search skills and how to apply them, however, your view on life and how you exercise your career options is a thought process that only you can act upon. Life is all about increasing your options and then picking the best one for yourself.
Don’t limit yourself when you lose your job, open yourself to all possibilities and explore your opportunities to their fullest. Would you believe I was motivated to write this book when I was between jobs? I had always wanted to write a book about assisting others achieve better employment prospects but I always thought it too hard and time-consuming.
The truth was that I had never written anything substantial before and just the thought of commencing it made me feel uncomfortable. I had some spare time up my sleeve and I decided to give it a try, each day I wrote two or three pages and my intensity and confidence grew each time. I also enjoyed it immensely and thought about writing as a new career. I reassessed my career options and was willing to try and experience other things, so can you!
Mental Toughness and a Strong Belief System
Key Success Factor Number 4
Losing your job is one of the toughest events that can happen to you in life. All of a sudden your standard of living, prosperity and your perception of yourself is challenged. Not easy thoughts to deal with on a daily basis.
If you have a family with young children and a mortgage like the majority of us, then matters can get worse because others dear to you and reliant upon your steady employment are also affected. There is nothing like coming home to your partner and informing them you no longer have a suitable job and watching their jaw drop all the way to the ground in a split second.
I learned very quickly that being sorry for myself was not going to help me and what had happened in my previous job was over and done with. I could not change the past but I could ensure that the present and future be better managed with a new way of thinking. The best way to get another job is to stay focused and challenged, to be mentally tough. If you cannot do this for yourself then do it for your loved ones who rely on you. Many authors describe this situation of downward spiralling anxiety and depression as ‘learned helplessness’. You believe that no matter what you do, nothing can help you out of your current situation, and that you are destined for doom and failure.
This is not true, learned helplessness will not get you another job, but mental toughness and a strong belief in yourself and your abilities will. All situations are temporary and you are just entering a trough in your life cycle. Soon it will get better and you will enter a resurgent growth stage and rise towards a new peak in your life.
However, you must believe in your abilities strongly because your belief system will control your thoughts and actions. A belief is nothing more than a feeling of certainty about what something means to you. In this book we discuss belief systems in more detail and expose how you can better control your beliefs towards positive thinking. These are beliefs that can help provide you with energy and a form of mental toughness to keep you going in a positive direction.
Managing Your Current Job
Key Success Factor Number 5
I have made it very clear in my book that good jobs are hard to find today and that the oversupply of good candidates ensures that employers have the upper hand at recruitment. This is what we are dealing with in the new millennium and sometimes we may lose sight of this and feel that the grass is greener on the other side.
Working as a professional employee relations practitioner for many years, I have seen many people leave good jobs simply because they were not good at managing or keeping their current employment. I don’t mean that you should give up better opportunities, far from it. I am referring to those who have left their employment in difficult circumstances or were not entirely happy with their workplace circumstances at the time. It is easier for us to lose our composure rather than think a situation through rationally during difficult circumstances.
The grass is not always greener on the other side. All businesses have their political issues, difficult people to get along with and peculiarities that don’t always make sense, and perhaps, some companies are more prone to this than other. The key is to better manage your career and your job whereas you can rationally think through those difficult moments and ensure you continue to maintain positive relationships in the workplace. All things pass in life and sometimes it may be nothing more than a difficult phase the company is going through. If you are being counselled for poor performance, have a hard look at yourself and determine whether there is genuinely room for improvement.
You may find that you can turn it around with a dedicated personal approach and commitment. If someone is making your life miserable focus on better managing others in the workplace and see if you can change the situation by adopting new and different strategies to better manage this person. There are many courses, books and mentors in the workplace that can assist you overcome difficult situations through their own experiences.