Updated: Dec 15, 2019
I don’t mean to scare you, but it’s better to talk about these things. The reason being, in the worst-case scenario this did happen you would be at least a little prepared. It’s not as boring as your pension and certainly not as bad as getting funeral insurance, but with the majority of people in the workforce employed under someone else, it’s time to face a few home truths.
Earlier this year, UK-based travel company, Thomas Cook, announced bankruptcy. This left thousands of people without jobs. Let's take one scenario. On average, 20% people meet at work. So what about the couples who met at Thomas Cook, who had little Thomas Cook babies? The ones who still worked there up to this point and maybe decided to go down the kids route. They now have little mouths to feed, and mom and dad just lost their jobs. Both, at the same time. Just. Like. That. You have to deal with the shock of all of this, and immediately after think about feeding and clothing your kids, paying your bills, the mortgage and so on. Best case scenario, you get a decent payout and you have time on your hands. But what if the business goes bankrupt? This stuff is chest pain level.
Imagine you are Karen from accounting. Karen has done the same job, day in, day out for the past thirty five years. This was Karen's first ever job. She gets an honest paycheque but lives hand to mouth with a little saving pot on the side. She knows the company and the people inside out. She does her job, never causes problems and everyone loves her. What will Karen do now? She is mid-fifties, still a little far from her pension. Will people want to hire Karen? Is she Gen X or Y savvy? Is she going to be ‘energetic' or 'dynamic’ enough for her next role? Did she go to a ‘Russell Group’ uni? Well, I hope so because that’s the sort of profile she is up against. Karen is not going to find it easy to secure another job and sadly, this will be very damaging for her confidence. This can happen to anyone.
In my time recruiting, I have seen a number of people lose jobs after years of service and they are genuinely traumatised. Some don’t even receive redundancy support from their company in ensuring they are ready for the job search ahead of them. Imagine this happening and you are left to face the job market alone. You are so overwhelmed that you can’t even remember what your responsibilities were let alone, how to A) write them on a blank piece of paper making them seem exciting, or B) talk about all of the millions of things you did over the years in an interview (in a concise manner of course). You go online to try and do some research on where to start but the information is so overwhelming and incredibly basic. Many agency recruiters are thinking about their commission (sorry but am I wrong?) unless you get the odd genuine professional who cares about your career (they do exist). I left the agency life mainly because of this. I was lucky to start my career at a decent place where we were taught good morals and respect for candidates, but even there I experienced a couple of terrible characters who should never have had people’s careers at their fingertips.
I heard a story once about a very well known recruitment agency, in fact, probably the biggest out there (will leave the company's popular boys name out of this) who hung a noose over a junior recruiter’s desk because the employee had not hit their KPI’s that week. I probably don’t need to get into the weeds of why this is just gross and unacceptable. That’s why candidates are often treated as a commodity and forced into the wrong job. Pushy, money-hungry management who incentivise their high performers by taking them away to Ibiza to get off their tits for a few days. The thought of this literally makes my skin crawl.
So they’re off ‘smashing pints’ in Ibiza, Harry who’s on the trip (also smashing pints) was struggling with one last deal to get him over his goal that would enable him to go on the Ibiza trip. Karen was his candidate (small world) and thought she was in safe hands. Harry decided to push Karen into a job that was not only way below her pay grade but in a really awful environment. He used many pushy and manipulative tactics to convince her to accept the role. Karen knew no better because it was her first time looking for a new job. She naturally believed everything he told her, that salary-wise this was all she would be able to get and of course, should be lucky to get this offer because it might be hard for someone in her situation to secure a role. He even pushed her to accept on the spot because there was ‘another candidate in the process’. Legend Harry, you’re so resourceful.
Does Harry feel guilty that Karen is being treated like the company donkey and cries herself to sleep every night? The chances are, probably not. He’s busy smashing all the pints being a legend.
After all, it’s a ‘numbers game’.
The point I am getting to, it that it is very difficult to not only prepare yourself but to put yourself out there on the job market and people can be very unkind. The help is not easily accessible. There is, however, an increasing number of professionals who can see this and are trying to make this better (me being one of those) and I would love to speak to anyone else who feels this way. I will continue to share as much useful content as I can on this topic.
When you interview for a new role, you need to be in the right headspace, which, can be borderline impossible if you have had a bad experience and you are not in fact, in the right headspace. But do you have time do get into the right headspace? Probably not. If you have been let go or you’ve left a job that has burnt you out, this is where it gets extremely tricky. Your confidence is on the ground but you have to walk into that interview with your head held high and talk about how great you are as an employee and how much value you can add to your future employer. You have been rejected a number of times. You can’t help but take it personally but each knock is a literal punch to the gut. You have constant imposter syndrome and each rejection reinforces it. I have to reject people as part of my job. I used to struggle with it at the start but soon I realised, it wasn’t the right fit for us or that person. If we offer someone who didn't quite meet the criteria (interviewing is there for a reason) we are wasting their precious time and doing them a disservice. If it’s not right don’t force it.
We have all been rejected from jobs, I lost count of my rejections throughout my life. I got rejected from Spotify earlier this year after a simple online application. I was disappointed not to even get an interview but decided I had too much sauce for them anyway. When I lived in Melbourne, I got rejected from a recruitment agency after thinking I absolutely killed the interview. I cried in my room for a whole day clutching my roommate’s dog and realised in hindsight that job would have kept me away from my family for a lot longer. I left shortly after that and moved to London to a job I loved where I have built an incredible network. Silver lining friends, it’s not personal.
If you got fired, it’s really not the end of the world and it’s happened to the best of us. If however you have been fired a few times and you are the common denominator in a situation that keeps happening, you are not a bad person, but its time for some self-reflection hun. What went wrong? Is this a trend? What can you learn here and how can you work on this?
We all know, the job search is exhausting and emotionally draining. You are being sold to by companies all the whilst trying to listen to your gut in the situation to try and decide if you will be happy in the role and environment. You can’t even begin to think of what questions to ask that will uncover the truths about the role. You might even be nervous to ask about the difficulties in the company or role because you could come across negative, ask.
I would argue that doing your CV is one of the most ‘procrastinated on’ things in the world. So many of my friends (and me) have procrastinated on their CV. It’s there, you haven’t updated it, you can’t remember what you’re supposed to write on it or what you did in your job. Start today, even if you don’t plan to leave for a while, the day will come and when you sit with that blank page in front of you, there is no emptier space. Begin to write notes, in your phone, on your laptop, in a notepad. Little things to remind you. Next time you feel good about something at work, write it down. Write the situation, the challenge, how you added value, and what the outcome. Track numbers, return on investment, how you tackled difficulties and improved processes, how you perhaps saved on cost for the company. Whatever it is, write it down. You can make sense of it later. Ask a colleague to give you some feedback on where they see your strengths or what their impression is of your work. We are modest creatures, you will be so surprised at what you missed when you hear it from a colleague. You are going to be so happy that you were organised and strategic enough to do this, future you is going to love you so much sometime when you least expect it. #lifehack this tactic also helps if you are negotiating a promotion in your current company.
Your CV needs to market you, show the value you can add to a company a short glance. Highlighting these key achievements right up top and sharing some hard facts on some of the tangible things you did to help this company progress (in some way or another) is going to be what makes you stand out. You don't need heaps of information on your roles from the early years, you need more detail on the current and recent roles because those are the skills you've been using more recently.
Finally, I hope I made you think a little differently about the importance of always adding to your CV irrespective of when you might be looking. You will thank me and yourself for doing it. I offer a confidential online coaching service for people who need more guidance with this, you can take a look here. Please reach out to me if you have any ideas about events or how we can help people on this journey that can seem scary at first but it completely doable when you are informed and prepared.
To do it you have to go through it.