This week we take a look at presentations, establishing your objectives, networking, getting the best out of outplacement and communicating with your family. Linda Jackson, MD of career and talent consultancy Fairplace, has given her suggestions for moving forward to a new position. (Linda's advice in italics). My five cents'-worth follows each tip.
* Rehearse your presentation:
By that I don't necessarily mean a formal speech. I'm talking about what you should say when anyone asks you what you do, why you left your last position, what you have achieved in your career so far. Can you talk about yourself comfortably, with confidence, concisely and with clarity? Practice so that you have the right words, so that you don't go pink with embarrassment or mumble, that you talk at the right pace and know when to stop.
Firing off questions to your other half so they have to rehearse their responses is one way of attacking this area. You don't want them to be too glib, but hesitant and muted replies don't put the message across well, and you have to be able to do that if you want to secure that position. Role play helps, and having a list of possible questions with your answers properly worked out can help you appear more confident and capable. Practice makes perfect.
* Review your career and life objectives:
Apart from this current setback, are you happy with the way your career has panned out to date? Are you doing your dream job? So how does the next 5-10 years look? Do you feel fulfilled? How is your work/life balance? What would be your next step? What is your next challenge? Onwards and upwards, sideways or downshift? Are there any changes you would like to make?
There may never be a better chance than right now for achieving a balance in your life. Financial employees can work silly hours, and have little job security unless their sector is flavor of the moment. The restrictions and regulations imposed on many areas of finance have changed the landscape dramatically for many employees in recent years. If you've been struggling against the odds at work, redundancy can give you an opportunity to assess whether or not you want to continue as you were, or branch out into something different and perhaps more personally satisfying.
* Re-awaken your network:
Think about your current colleagues, colleagues who have left the firm in the last few years who are in new organizations, external suppliers you have come into contact with and add them to your list. Be proactive and seek out opportunities in the marketplace. Ask people about their work challenges and see if you can spot any opportunities. Ask friends and colleagues for recruitment contacts as a lead in is always better than calling up cold.
Leave no stone unturned. Make that call, send that email, write that follow-up letter. A staggering number of people actually find their new employment by networking, rather than through conventional recruitment channels, so it's wise to make sure you're positioning yourself with the right people in the right places. Avoid carpet-bombing your colleagues with CVs and begging letters, however - you need to control who is seeing your details rather than using a scatter-gun approach, which is normally doomed to failure anyway. Don't be a shrinking violet - get your name out there with the people who can help, but be discerning about who really can and will help you.
Make the most of any outplacement provision offered:
Decent employers offer outplacement. This can be a very useful tool for coaching people into a new role, no matter how junior or senior or well connected they are. If outplacement is not mentioned when you're told you're heading for the door, ask your HR advisor for details of proposed support and exactly what you are entitled to. What is the duration of the programme? How much time can you expect to spend with a consultant? Do they understand your sector? Does it include research, IT training, psychometrics, seminars? How successful are they at placing people? How do they judge their own performance?
Please don't cut off your nose to spite your face - if you are offered outplacement, do take up the opportunity. While there may be some cowboy outfits out there, the outplacement agencies I've encountered are focused and professional. I really can't emphasize enough how helpful it can be. Now that my other half is going through it for the second time, I'm even more appreciative of the extra confidence-building and training it provides. It gives structure to his working week, and enables him to conduct his job-search from a professional environment, which is much preferable to having to do it from home, with all the distractions and noises-off.
* Communicate with your family
Talk things through with your partner. Let them know your thoughts, your plans and the progress you make. This is especially true if you have a partner who doesn't work outside the home as they may feel particularly helpless.
It makes all the difference in the world if you face the uncertainties and decisions about the future together, with tolerance and kindness about each other's fears and frustrations. If you work as a team, keep optimistic, and see redundancy as an opportunity rather than a setback, you're halfway there to the job you deserve.
Good Luck. Let me know how you get on.