Editor's note: This article first appeared on our Middle Eastern site but applies here as well.
Some of you who read my last article, which placed the blame for redundancy squarely on your own shoulders, may have felt that I'd been overly-harsh. As a form of penance, I'm now going to offer some advice on how to get back into the industry.
I'm an industry veteran (or an old goat, as some have been unkind enough to point out), and I'd suggest the following tips work whether you've been unemployed for a short time or for the long-term. They're particularly relevant to today's lean job market.
1) Know when your skills are not in demand, and compromise
Confidence is key when searching for a new position and, while it's important to believe in yourself, you must realize when a compromise is necessary. Look for something you can apply your skills to, which may not exactly match experience in your previous positions. Be prepared to switch or re-train - any job is better than no job.
2) Mercilessly flog your friends and contacts
In the current climate, the best, perhaps only, weapon you have is the network of friends and contacts you've built up in the region. Here, I'm assuming you've built up some collateral among those you know in the industry - use them (they'll understand at the moment) and keep at it. Try not to seem desperate, but a call every month or so, or a semi-regular coffee to try and gauge any leads isn't over-doing it.
3) Be organized and pro-active
Lists are not the preserve of anally retentive people. If you're on the market, you can view it as a positive - make a list of all the places you've always wanted to work, the reasons you want to work there and what it is that you admire about them. And get in touch.
Who runs the department you want to work for? Try and make an appointment to see them and get a face to face meeting with the decision maker. This could involve some persistence, particularly if you're phoning and trying to get beyond their PA.
State your case for meeting them personally. Take it from me - managers are always under pressure and anyone who can take the initiative to make an appointment and demonstrate their value to the company is already 70 percent of the way there.
4) Do not send out resumes, and use headhunters sparingly
If you send your resume to all and sundry, speculative applications will simply get binned. At the very least, your resume has to be tailored to the individual position, and your skill-set needs to exactly match the open role. If it doesn't, it's unlikely any recruiter will read beyond the second paragraph.
Headhunters in the Middle East are not the same as in more developed markets. You'll need to call around and get a feel as to whether they're willing to help you. After all, most headhunters are acting in the interest of the client, not the candidate. And, in an environment when so many firms are chasing so few jobs, the bad ones may simply dismiss you if they're unable to match your profile to a position they have right now. It's easy to weed out the bad ones.
Generally, my advice would be for you to decide who you want to work for and go for it. You need to be proactive, not reactive, which is what you're doing by letting a headhunter find a job for you.
5) Be cheap, but don't under-sell yourself
This is not 2007 - banks are not going to hire you with a golden hello, generous housing allowance and an automatic uplift on your previous package. Employers want someone they can get on the cheap, and if you're prepared to compromise on compensation, it will work in your favor.
Research the salary range for the role you're aiming for, and undershoot the bottom of that by around 10 percent. In the short-term, this means pain (although not too much), but it also means you've got your foot in the door.
Moreover, it will take significant work even to progress to the point of salary negotiations. As I mentioned, a pro-active job search is best, during which you should have demonstrated a significant amount of initiative and expressed your love and devotion for the particular employer. Taking a hair cut on pay should, in the eyes of your new potential over-lord, be no real hardship.
Robert Moxon is currently CEO of Nonoo Exchange Company in Bahrain, a position he has held since 2009. He is a foreign exchange veteran, has worked for Citibank, Midland Montague Treasury and British Petroleum over the last 30 years. He moved to the Middle East in 1994 to start up the investments for BMB Investment Bank in Bahrain.