• Jason Downes

27/52: Out of work? Look within...


"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don't know a lot about Emerson but I know he was a big believer in the power of the individual and the spirit of mankind.


I currently have a large number of friends and industry colleagues looking for work, as well as many highly qualified and experienced candidates applying for roles. Many of the conversations I'm having right now are offering advice and support to people who, in some cases, have never been out of work. I thought I'd put some of these ideas down for anyone suddenly finding themselves in a situation they just did not see coming.


1) It's not you

What is happening right now is a global phenomenon. Don't be hard on yourself and don't overthink the 'what if' questions you might be dwelling on.


2) Take stock (& consider a pivot)

Have you just been thrown an opportunity? Was the job you were doing your dream role? This might be a great chance for you to re-evaluate what's important, what you want and what you should be seeking for your career. Evaluating what you want for your life, your goals and motivations is no mean feat, but luckily there's plenty of advice and self-help guides out there. Here's an article from American site Ms Career Girl, 'What motivates you?' ultimately asking: What makes you Hungry (mentally), Happy and Honoured?


While you're taking stock, consider what a 'lesser' or different role might offer you. If you pivot in a different direction from your current career plan, are there skills, insights and networks that wouldn't otherwise develop?


3) Create a routine

Once you've had a chance to take stock, lock in a routine for yourself and try and stick with it for at least a few days a week.

i.e. 9am - breakfast and news; 10am - networking on LinkedIn; 11am - study; 12pm - walk the dog, etc. The structure will give your day purpose and help you feel less 'adrift'.


4) Network

It's time to reach out to those you know and those you don't. Look back at #2 above - what does your network need to look like to help you get what you're seeking? I wrote a blog that touches on some of these ideas back in January this year. As part of your networking, align yourself with a good recruiter that specialises in your industry.


5) Apply for jobs

This is the only thing some job seekers do and the challenge is that you'll be competing with 'the mob'. Keep abreast of all relevant opportunities: Make sure you're getting alerts from all of the major job boards (i.e. Seek & LinkedIn) and that you're following the right companies on LinkedIn. Tailor your cover letter to each role and if you can't succinctly articulate why you're good for this job, consider if you should be applying.


6) ABN / Contracting

Contracting is a great way to get your foot in the door of a new company without them having to take the risk of hiring a new employee. If you've got significant experience in your professional area, investigate setting yourself up as a business (be aware that Sole Trader's can't be on-hired as contractors by recruitment agencies, you'll need to be either PAYG or Pty Ltd). By running the work through your own business, you'll get the double benefit of working on projects for a variety of companies whilst your CV will show you steadily working for one business (your own) with a variety of clients. Do your own research and speak with your Accountant.


7) Learn

This could be a great opportunity for you to do some study, either formal or informal. There are a lot of educational institutions that offer free online courses such as Edx. Again, try and tie this in with what makes you 'happy, hungry and honoured'.


If you find yourself unexpectedly out of work, first of all, I feel for you, but I encourage you to consider Emerson's words and worry not so much about what lies ahead but what lies within.

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