If you have just found out that you are being made redundant from work, it may be the trigger (or the kick up the you know what!) to start evaluating your current career. I know people who took redundancy when I did and used the money to become a teacher, leaving the media behind; or retrain in a completely new area of work like counselling and so on. There really is nothing to stop you doing the same, if that’s what you want to do.
In this second part of our redundancy series, we will look at how to undertake a career evaluation, find your passion and new career if you really want to step away from your profession. If it’s a business you want to start instead, keep your eyes peeled – that series is on it’s way to you.
Now you need to evaluate where you are in your career and to update your CV and any other necessary paperwork to help you apply for a new job. The next section will help with the next steps you need to take to take your career to the next level.
Is Your Current Career Right for You?
It is only natural to feel eager about getting right back to work. But what I found when I was being made redundant for the second time is that this time of not having an official job can be the perfect time to do some soul searching. It’s an excellent time to think about whether you are happy in your career, job role and just life in general. I didn’t do much soul searching following my first redundancy because I was so in love with my career, and I didn’t want to risk flitting away my (generous) redundancy package. So, I went straight into freelancing.
If you are worried about your professional acumen such as lack of skills or motivation for the work, you’ll need to address these, so they don’t hold you back from your next opportunity.
If you are unhappy with your current career, now might be the best time to consider making a change. Do you still feel motivated and raring to go when you wake up every morning? Or have you had a nagging sense that something is missing from your life for a while; or that you could be doing something more rewarding; or experiencing your work-life balance differently?
For me, my second redundancy was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was growing tired of the media and wanted to work for myself full-time. Running a website like Mothers Who Work lets you know that there are so many ways to work and that if your present circumstances aren’t working for you, there really is no need to battle through it forever.
A career change may not be as straightforward as finding a new job in the same industry you work in, but you will never know unless you try.
Even if you want to venture into a new career altogether, it doesn’t mean that your present job will be completely redundant. Look for your ‘transferable skills’.
If you’ve been working as a teacher, for example, you are probably the type of person who enjoys working with others, and would likely be a good mentor and leader. You will likely be well-organised; and a self-starter, who is willing to learn new skills. These are characteristics that can lend themselves to a wide variety of careers, not just teaching. That’s the beauty of transferable skills. They are not specific to only one profession.
Take Online Career and Personality Quizzes
One of the best ways to help evaluate whether your current career is right for you, and what kind of new career would suit you best is to try some online tests. They can help narrow down what you are good at and feel passionate about if you need some ideas.
An increasing number of HR and hiring managers are using these personality quizzes, so hiring managers might also ask you to take them to determine if you would be a good fit for a particular position.
One of the most common tests used in psychological profiling for jobs is the Briggs Myers Test. The Briggs Myers groups people into one of 16 different types of working personalities, based on them being introvert or extrovert, along with other polarities. Some employers require employees to take the test when before job interviews, to help narrow down a broad candidate pool based on the desired test results.
Websites like www.self-directed-search.com is an example of an inexpensive site that can help you discover your passion.
Self Directed Search divides people into one of six different types: investigative, realistic, artistic, social, conventional, enterprising. It then makes suggestions about the best career and educational opportunities for each individual.
My Next Move
The www.mynextmove.org site is free to use. You to rank different tasks according to your interest in doing them. It then makes career suggestions, and how much training it would take for you to enter those suggested careers.
By playing games on this site, it will you help determine your skills, abilities and interests. On www.pymetrics.com, you will learn your personality traits, and see how you can make better decisions about your career. You can also get matched up with recruiters on the site, but this is a US-based website, so be mindful of that on the jobsearch front if you are UK-based.
Taking These Tests
With these kinds of test, honesty is the best policy. There is no ‘right’ answer – in any workplace, there must be a mix of different personalities. If everyone is the same, it just won’t work, so don’t mess up your chances by trying to cheat or beat the system.
Don’t try to second-guess yourself; it is far better to work in a job that suits you than to accept any job just to make ends meet, and end up suffering because you hate it. These psychometric tests can help you find the right job and career based on who your personality and interests.
Knowing what you want and need is also essential because it can help you avoid a patchy career with short gigs and gaps in between. The last thing you want is an inconsistent-looking CV because it will raise red flags with hiring managers.
These psychological assessments can help you determine whether or not to switch careers. The tests can also help you with keywords and buzzwords that will be of interest to recruiters. They can also help you determine the best way to break into different careers, such as taking an internship, part-time work, and so on.
Once you are reasonably sure about whether you want to make a career change or stay in your current profession, it will be time to start updating your CV on job boards.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Preparation is key when you’re in the market for another job. If you’re like most people, your CV is probably gathering dust on your hard drive. You may not have touched it for quite a while, so now is the time to dust it off and start updating.
Grab a notebook and start writing down everything you have been doing in your most recent position. Think in terms of action verbs such as:
These action verbs will show that you have been responsible for projects, people, and so on.
Jot Down Specific Accomplishments
Include specific accomplishments in the form of a brief example of what you did, what happened, and what the positive outcome was, for example:
– ‘Launched X product, which increased revenue by $Y
Streamlined processing of Product A, which decreased costs by $B’; or
– ‘Grew Facebook followers from 10,000 to 25,000 in one year’.
Note down anything you got praise or recognition for, such as being an ’employee of the month’; getting an email from a supervisor, or client thanking you for the excellent work you delivered.
Now you have quite a lot of information gathered, condense this information into a series of eye-catching bullet points, which will make it easier for hiring managers to read.
Go through the same process for your previous posts in your employment history. If you are thinking about changing careers, it’s worth creating a second copy of your CV and rewriting it in such a way that it emphasises your transferable skills that will be of most use in your new chosen industry.
Long-Form to Shorter CVs
Having more than one CV is a good idea. You can edit your long-form CV to cater to each job application – it’s good practice. It will also take longer to fill out each job application, but think about the quality you put into each application and how well you present yourself as the best fit for the role, rather than the number of applications you can crank out.
Length of CV
Some professionals say your CV should only be a page long. This can be unfeasible – especially if you have been in the workforce for more than 15 years and you have a lot of relevant experience to show. You don’t need to list every job you ever had if this is the case, only the most relevant ones. Try to keep your CV to two pages, with generous margins and a readable font such as Times New Roman, size 12.
References and Testimonials
The more, the better. You don’t have to use all your references, but it helps to have a variety of references on hand. Be sure to check you have all the correct contact information, such as phone numbers and email addresses.
Note that in some cases, they might ask for professional references and character references too, so have them prepared and briefed.
Keywords – the Game Changer
Be sure to use the keywords in your CV that an employer would be most likely to use when searching for someone with your skills and abilities – this will help you to be found on job boards, too. That’s how job boards work these days – keywords and key phrases are everything.
Error and Typo-Free CVs
Make sure you spellcheck your CV. Using the basic spellchecker on Microsoft Word will only go so far. But it can miss a lot of issues. Try Grammarly instead, which is a lot more thorough and has many more features besides the basic spellcheck and grammar.
Finally, print it out your CV and proofread it. If you are nervous about your spelling and grammar or want an independent assessment of the quality of your CV, consider spending the money on a CV service or getting a reliable friend to read through it for you.
Do Some Background Research
It’s easy to get excited and apply for every job that looks like a good fit, but take your time. Look up each company before you start to fill out the application. You can take a look at company reviews on Indeed.com; or search up the companies on LinkedIn to get a better idea about what each company is doing and hear from present and former employees’ mouths about the companies. You need to be a good fit for a job, but it also has to be a good fit for you.
This research can also come in handy if you make it to the interview stage of the recruitment process. You can use it to ask questions about the job you are applying for.
Once you have your CVs ready, you should feel more confident about your job search. But before you start digging into all of the job search sites, it is essential to tap into your network. Let’s look at this topic next.
The Importance of Making Contacts and Networking
When you get laid off, it is only natural to feel a little sad and (perhaps) even embarrassed about losing your job. However, hiding it from friends and relatives can be one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Experts estimate that many jobs are never publicly listed. They are part of the ‘hidden job market’.
The hidden job market has jobs that are filled unofficially, via contacts and networking. Therefore, if people find out that you are available, and you have a good reputation as an expert in your field, you might not even have to look for a job. Offers will start coming to you.
Tap into the Contacts You Have
Think of all the contacts that you have made within your industry. This may sound like a dream come true. And it can be, provided you are ready to network like a pro.
Think about friends, family, neighbours and so on who might know people who could use your services. Print business cards with your contact information on the front, and brief bullet points on the back, and hand them out as appropriate.
Don’t be shy. Even if the person does not need your services, they might keep the information at the back of their mind and refer you to others. Also, remember that people do business with people they like: if you are friendly, personable, and well-spoken, there is the likelihood that you will stick in their mind. Then if a person needs, for example, a web designer, they might think of you.
Network in Person
Networking in person can be a bit embarrassing if you are shy. However, it is always a good idea to practice an elevator speech to get the ball rolling and answer the fundamental questions of who you are and what you do.
Write a 15 to 30-second description of the essentials, then practice it until it comes naturally to you. Think of people in your niche or industry and their main problems. What problems do you solve? Include those in your elevator speech, and you are bound to arouse people’s interest.
Another place to network is your local Chamber of Commerce. It offers free courses, talks and so forth that can help business owners succeed. If you can come up with an idea for a presentation, offer yourself as a guest speaker and use the opportunity on the platform to show what you know. You will be able to network with all sorts of people at the event, and it is a great chance to hand out business cards and connect with people who can use your services.