Been made redundant?
Losing your job always comes as a shock. However, perhaps for those in more senior appointments, who have worked their way up over the years and feel that they might have earned some level of security, the shock may well be even more intense.
Many will have meagre experience of interviews, let alone sufficient knowledge of what a good CV looks like these days and will find themselves plunged into a candidate rich job market with very little idea of how best to go about making themselves stand out from their competition.
The key is not to rush and not to panic. Easier said than done when there is a mortgage to be paid, school fees to be found and a mountain of bills piling up. A good employer, having made the tough decision to let you go, should also understand that your focus now will be very much aimed at yourself and therefore ought to give you plenty of time in which to explore just exactly what your future might look like.
What can you bring to the table?
Spend time evaluating your unique selling points. What are the skills and experiences that you have accumulated over the years that make you stand out from the crowd? What can you bring to a new company that others cannot?
Just as importantly, think about all the things you enjoy doing as well as the things you dislike. Did you really love your last job so much, or were there days when you dreamed of doing something completely different?
Evaluate your personal brand
Now look at your personal marketing literature, starting perhaps with your CV. No matter how good you are at your job and no matter how many amazing things you have achieved, none of this really matters if your CV doesn’t do you justice. This is the first thing a potential employer will see and it is this you will solely be judged on before you have any hope of meeting them.
If you feel that CV writing isn’t your strongest point, take advantage of the many excellent professional firms who will write your CV for you. However, do take care to ensure that they really get to know you and that the CV they produce for you reflects the person you are, as some tend to be a little generic and stale.
Get to know your strengths & weaknesses
Get proactive and find as many ways as you can to learn more about yourself. A good careers advice company will not only be able to give you some useful tips regarding how your CV should look, they will also be able to explore the job market with you and possibly suggest roles and sectors that you had not thought of as well as give guidance around interview techniques, taking you through mock interviews and giving honest feedback regarding your performance.
Some may even offer psychometric testing in order to assess where your areas of strength and weakness lie - be open minded with the results of these and utilise all this information in order to understand more about the skills you have.
Consider an executive search firm
Speak to colleagues and friends for recommendations of a good executive search firm. A decent one will spend time getting to know you and understanding exactly what it is that you want and have to offer a prospective employer. Before speaking with them, take time to think about the salary you would realistically expect in your next role.
Are you prepared to relocate, travel, commute and have you discussed all these possibilities with your family? A solid well respected head-hunter will not only be able to advise you on your market , but might also be able to work proactively with you in targeting and introducing you into specific companies that fit your location and sector requirements.
Refine your interview technique
Think about the sorts of questions you might be asked at interview and prepare, prepare, prepare. These days there is a lot of emphasis on human management skills and so expect to be asked questions regarding your skills as a leader and as a colleague as well as around your levels of interpersonal awareness, the situations you find problematic and how you might address such situations. You might be asked to talk about a time you made an error in judgement, the impact it had on you and what you learned from it.
What are your expectations of the role you are applying for? What makes you the best candidate for it? Can you provide examples of achievements, the things that motivate you, the challenges you are looking for? The list of possible questions is endless, so the secret is to be completely certain of your USPs, to be well versed in talking through your CV and finally, to have fully researched the people and the company you are meeting with. Come armed with questions, be honest, don’t say negative things about your previous employer and be succinct - the interviewer will really want to know three things about you; firstly, can you do the job? Secondly, do you want the job and finally, will you fit in?
And remember, there is no stigma attached to being made redundant or being put on gardening leave these days. Many who have gone through just this experience have said it was the best thing that had happened to them and gave them the time and opportunity to completely re-evaluate their life and look at what was important to to them.