In recent times we have seen some big organisations collapse, leaving hundreds and sometimes thousands of fantastic employees simultaneously without employment security or fearing for their jobs. From Laura Ashley to Masters and of this week Careers Australia, it is fair to say, there are thousands upon thousands of Australians who have taken a confidence hit in recent times that has left some scarring and negativity, and you may be one of them.
I myself was made redundant from my dream job at age 23 when a catering company lost their stadium contract. I was crushed, and luckily I was rehired the following week by the new catering company to run their retail division. However, that 7 days was the worst of my young life. I had just purchased my first house and bought a new car on finance. I was up early every day of those 7 days, applying for jobs. It was a disheartening 7 days I will never forget, but I know I was one of the lucky ones. My experience was very short-lived.
One thing to remember (and yes it can be hard when your emotions are running rife), is that the reason for the companies collapse and consequently your unemployment is not your fault. It can be hard to get over the negative feeling when you are under time constraints to find a way to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, but there are 4 ways you can keep yourself going while looking for the next perfect job.
Yes, I know volunteering does not pay. However, volunteering can be beneficial to your job search on many levels. It can:
1. Keep yourself busy instead of moping at home while giving back to the community
2. Open you up to employment opportunities- You never know whose path you may cross while volunteering, with your next big break just around the corner
3. Boost your CV – Volunteering looks great on your CV! Employers and recruiters will be pleased to see you not only are giving back to the community, but you utilised your time effectively while searching for a job (this is a great bonus)
4. Turn into a paying gig – A permanent role may open up where you are working, and you could get offered money to stay.
Take on a contract position
Even if you want a permanent role, don’t be too precious to take a contract one while you are searching. Working a contract role can benefit you more than you realise. It can:
1. Cover you financially while you look for a permanent role. Hiring for permanent roles rarely is a speedy affair. It may take between 4-8 weeks to advertise, interview, negotiate and offer a candidate, and by the end, you might not be offered the role. Get some money in while working a contract role through a recruiter (plus contract roles often pay a higher hourly rate than a permanent one!)
2. Open doors with other companies- Working a contract role through a recruiter is a great way to get noticed as a valued worker. Often recruiters will try and line up another contract gig for you near the end of the contract, or even put you forward for a permanent role they are working.
3. Build a stronger personal brand- Recently a relief teacher took on a 4-week contract in a state school. Prior to this, they had been pigeon-holed to private schools only, and they were finding it hard landing a permanent position since moving from interstate. A week after their contract ended, they were offered a permanent position at another state school due to the feedback regarding their personal brand and teaching ability.
4. Create a permanent position with the company- Often a contract employee can be offered a permanent position while working a contract role if the company can see the value in their employment. They may have a skill set the company is lacking, or have a toxic employee they want to move out and replace.
5. Minimise gaps in your CV- a two-month gap may not look like much, but 4 months or longer will raise questions on why you are still unemployed.
Take a role with less pay or further away to bide you some time
Often if you have been working at an organisation for many years, you would have received a few pay raises along the way. One of the reasons companies offer pay rises is to keep their valued staff with them while showing them they are valuable to the company. Unfortunately, high salaries could be one reason the company is not around today, along with poor higher management decisions. That being said, waiting around for another role that pays the same (or more often more) is a dangerous move.
Same thing goes for wanting a job around the corner again. It is very rare you will come across another role only minutes from home (unless you live in the CBD).
By taking a lower paid role or further away while you are looking for the right role, you will become more appealing to recruiters and hiring managers without even knowing it. Recruiters and employers often find candidates who are currently working more appealing. If you have been off work for 5 months after being made redundant, hiring managers might start to wonder why you have not picked up any work in that time and may issue alarm bells in their mind.
Sometimes you just need a break, working for the same company for many years can drain a lot out of you. However, make sure you still do something work related to keep yourself relevant in your field and to ensure the gap in your resume is minimal. A great way to do this is to freelance with two great options:
1. Join a freelance community- With Freelancer, Hired and a plethora of other freelance
2. Go at it alone. Grab an ABN, create a LinkedIn & Facebook company page, and get your network to spread the word you are looking to assist people. Word of mouth is a powerful advertising tool, so make sure you get your past colleagues and clients to assist spread the word.
Remember, by keeping yourself busy while searching for the next permanent position will not only keep you sane but will be a fantastic boost to your personal brand. When up against another candidate who sat around not working for 5 months, versus you who has worked hard to make the best of a bad situation, you will be viewed in a positive light; someone who is proactive, and will make the best out of the worst situation. If you were the hiring manager, which person would you prefer to hire?