Fretting over your imminent redundancy? Let’s put a positive spin on this! A career break is the perfect time to re-calibrate, cruise and power up!
It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Your legs are like jelly as you walk down the office corridor You’re responding to a summons from head office, only to be told the business is downsizing and you’re in the firing line.
Being made redundant is rarely in the career plan but taking an unexpected career break can actually be the making of you. You just have to do it right.
Your first reaction will be to panic-apply to every job advert you can get your sweaty palms on with little consideration for their suitability or appeal. The best advice I can give you is to hold your horses! You’re experiencing the entire spectrum of emotions; shock, denial, anger and upset. It’s not the time to apply for a new role and it’s definitely not the time to be making huge, life-changing decisions.
Taking a significant career break, whether by choice or due to redundancy might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a chance to get your life in check, turn your attention to all the things you’ve been putting off and take a step back to assess the future.
It’s not often we’re de-shackled from the pressures and stresses of working life. If your brain is mossy from years of career servitude, it’s time to do a spot of gardening. Here’s my three-stage guide to preparing to come back from a career break with a bang!
Stage One – Re-calibrate
Admin, Admin, Admin
It’s more than likely that you’ve still got your workplace autopilot switched on so you may as well kick of your career break with personal admin whilst you’re still in the zone! Think about what’s been causing you stress; what’s niggling at the back of your mind. If you’ve got a pile of paperwork in your home study- sort it! If you’ve been meaning to redecorate a room – do it! And if there’s whole bunch of appointments you’ve been postponing, pick up the phone and schedule them!
Reconnect With Your Life
Whether it’s spending time with your family, your children or your closest friends, this is the perfect time to reconnect with everyone important in your life. Do the school drop off, get to know some of the other parents and engage with your children’s teachers. Re-integrate yourself with family life and catch up with your friends. Don’t underestimate the value of this – as well as being an important reminder of what’s really important in life and what makes you, you – you also never know who could connect you with your future job or give you some valuable advice.
Health, Beauty, Fitness
We all know the benefits of keeping in good health but when you find yourself between jobs it’s more critical than ever to get the blood pumping to the brain, oxygen in lungs and endorphins released. Go for long walks, take up a kick boxing class or sign up for a (half-) marathon. If you’ve got a twinge in your knee, organise some physio…get that tooth fixed. When you finally get back to work you’ll be prepped and healthy many months to come!
Stage Two – Cruise
If you embrace and apply all of the above advice then you’ll gracefully enter into the cruise zone. Which mean it’s time to take a deep breath (or gulp!) and enter into Stage Two of your career break. Be ready to open your mind to the many possibilities open to you and take the time to really explore what you want to do with your future career.
Map the Market
Have a think about some of the companies you’d like to work for based on your desired work culture. Do you want a flexible working environment, a tech-savvy forward thinking organisation, a sociable culture or the best salary possible? Your Stage One reflection-time should help you out here. You’ve had a chance to work out your priorities in life. And if you’re feeling angry and bitter about your old job, that’s ok! Harness it to establish what it is you DON’T want from your new role.
Activate Your Network
Once you’ve drawn up a list of dream companies, it’s time to do some cross-referencing! Is there anyone in your network that works for these companies? Can they help you get an introduction to any of the key decision makers? You can also use your connections for reference checking. What are their experiences of working for this company? Are they an advocate?
Craft Your USP
What is your unique value proposition? Identify what you can do better than anyone else. If you were a product on the supermarket shelf, what would make you stand out as the candidate of choice?
Stage Three – Power Up
You’ve had your chill time, you’ve reflected on everything from utility bills to dental hygiene and you’ve identified your USP. Congratulations! You’re ready to get back in the game!
Remember you’re in a sales process
The number one rule of selling is to uncover the buyer’s needs and that’s exactly what you need to do when you’re researching the perfect prospective employer.
This is going to require a lot of listening. Listening to your friends, your connections and how your employer of choice is marketing itself online.
You know what your unique skills are so start matching them up with the organisation’s needs and sell yourself!
When you finally meet someone with the hiring decision you’ll able to perfectly articulate what you can bring to your role within the company.
Too many people attend interviews and only talk about themselves The trick is to turn your meetings into conversations! People will feel more comfortable and your interactions will be all the richer for it!
Don’t underestimate the value of keeping in touch. After an interview, be sure to send a follow-up note (or two!) and leverage social media to keep yourself in the spotlight and your name on people’s minds.
Connect with the companies that you want to work for on LinkedIn, Twitter and Procurious. Post issues and news that demonstrate your interest and commitment to your chosen career and employer. Set up Google alerts so you’re kept in the loop on current affairs, your target companies and all things procurement.
Ask for the job
You know that you’re the best person for the job- but they don’t! Make sure you ask for the job – tell the employer how much you want to work for them and why. You’d be amazed how many people don’t actually ask for the sale!