Surviving Redundancy in a deep Recession

Having been exited in 2008 and again in 2010 I have just come to realise I have managed to get to NOvember 2012 and the wheels have not fallen off the bus/truck/bike/skateboard. OK, I have had a mid-life crisis and taken up Rollerblading where most may have chosen the path of long legged blondes and a red Ferrari, but needs must.

Having got this far, and still hearing of friends, business aquaintances and companies being exited from their daily entertainment I thought its about time I shared what I have learnt on the way and help some others. After all a recent Gallup Strengths Finder that is used by many corporations to determine strengths has me as Strategic, Arranger, Positivity, Learner and, important for this post, Includer.

So, the steps.

1. Make your Resume/CV current, relevant and in the format expected of modern recruiters and HR. Three lines at the top, name on the first line (20point), address on the second line(10pt), mobile, home phone and email on the third(10pt). This makes it easy to contact you and makes it easy for the recuiter to remove the contact details without making a mess of the whole document.

The sections you need are Profile, Key Skills, Achievements, Background, Education, Professional Organisations, in that order. However, the first thing to do before building these out is to write out stories of the successes you have seen and where you achieved them. Thing about business success, things that have “wow’d” the business. Whether its sales and huge growth in revenue, or marketing and increases in market share, or manufacturing and improved deliver or lower costs. Write as many as you can recall, as short stories. I found this very helpful, it comes from a great book that should be part of the national curriculum, What Color is your Parachute.

Once you have the success stories then image you have a $, £, € and that you can allocate value to each as an employer. Use that to rank them and from that you have the basis of your Achievements section of your CV. They need to be short, punchy, so you may need to reduce them to summaries of the story. If it helps use STAR to write out the stories, as in Situation, Task, Action, Result. The Result is the Achievement part of your Resume/CV.

Then look through the stories and identify key skills, what was it that you did that enabled you to get the achievements that you have written about. What action did you take. The Achievement statements start with active words (Delivered, Built, Defined) the Key skills is based on the Action you took to secure the Achievement.

Then you write the Background or Job History, where you were and touch on the Achievements you made, the Careers Springboard site has some helpful information although I have found the CV format has become somewhat dated as the contact details take up too much space and their deletion wrecks the page format.

The three line’s suggested are less intrusive, clear and removable! (the last adored by recruitment agencies)

2. Get the software tools. Find a student, age does not matter, they have to be in full time education and ideally with you as a parent. This will make it easier to write your CV as you will have the full Microsoft Office 2010 suite for a lot less than retail as Microsoft enable sales at reduced prices if you are in education.I use Software4Students, but there are others.

3. Find a Computer. Of course, so far I have assumed that you have a computer. However, many of us used our employers computer for personal use and when we had to hand it back it left us without. A search for your local computer recycling company who may even provide discounted computers to the unemployed is worth a look, occasionally the job centre will be helpful in providing details on affordable computers.

4. Get a mobile phone. You may already have a personal phone and you will need to text everyone on your work phone the new number as part of your networking before you hand the work phone back, make it easy for them to update their phone contact entry with the new number. You will also need to try and find a way to capture your contacts, and that can be troublesome and may even breach the terms of your exit. Not much advice I can give here other than get connecting, make contact, even if you lose their contacts details make sure they have yours.

5. LinkedIn is a core to your online existance. Unless your are German or French in which case it’s Xing or Viadeo. I am sure there are other country specific networking sites. The UK has Ecademy, however they have been slow to react to LinkedIn and are now in their shadow. Like so many UK invented things, first to market but not able to capitalise on it. Pity.

Use your newly written Achievements, Key Skills and Background to build out your LinkedIn. Unlike your CV that will be tailored to align with the job requirements of each application,your LinkedIn has the misfortune of having to be generic. Mine is by no means perfect in that its too wordy, does not get to the point and expands on some things that are of no interest to anyone anymore. However, it does not need to be static. It does need to align with your CV very closely, they will check.

It has Recommendations. My advice here, unlike mine, is to write them yourself. Take the Key Skills you have and write a Recommendation for each Skill that you want to reenforce. Then, look at your connections and those that have experience of you using that Skill ask them to Recommend you, sending them what you have written and asking them to use as is or to write in their own words. The point is you do not want 20 Recommendations saying “he was a great team manager when I knew him”, you want 20 different Recommendations each enhancing a specific skill. The higher management, or well known people are those that you should ask the Recommendation to be posted by, the more respected their opinion the better.

6. Manage your connections and your applications. Zoho is a free CRM tool. It will allow you to manage your contacts far better than LinkedIn and LinkedIn will let you export your connections into a CSV file that ZoHo can accept. Then you have a contact manager. Its tough staying in contact, this tool will help. Also, when you make contact with companies for roles its easier to manage in a tool.

I would also suggest you decide a filename format for your CV/Resume. I have DEverittYYCVn-cccc where YY is the year, n is the version and cccc is the company stock ticker or something unique. If you fire out 20 CV’s and 2 come back for interview you want to be sure you are taking the CV you tailored and sent to them to align with the role than another they have never seen.

7. Start your own marketing campaign. Now this may be a challenge, if you have never done marketing. However, I have written a blog about the 12P’s so look for that on here from earlier and consider each P. The one you really need here is Promotion, but the other 11P’s can still be applied. The intention for this stage is to get everyone you know to know that you are looking for a role and be sure they all have your key message as to what you are looking for. This is not networking, this is promotion. Networking comes next.

8. Network. Now this is tough for most who have not been in sales, however it has a major Strategic value that you need to exploit. That is it creates a virtual sales organisation that are selling you on your behalf. Its therefore fundamental that you do not ask for a job when networking, you ask for connections. The sort of statement would be “I am interested in the rapid changes happening in the mobile phone market and I would like to understand more about it, is there anyone you know that I would benefit from speaking to?” … of course, make it relevant to the role you are looking for and despite the challenges keep it going. You will find its likely you will become very well connected, that in time you will know more about the subject than the people you meet and very soon you are bringing real value to your networking meetings. Value that will energise your virtual sales team to promote you on your behalf. The strategic vision, you want to get to the hiring manager before they have spoken to HR. At the point the hiring manager thinks “I need help here, do I know anyone that could help me you need to be already in his mind or one step removed. When he asks someone other than HR if they know anyone your name should be the response and your core value. You also need to develop a Tell Me About Yourself set, the elevator pitch as some call it.

9. Make sure your About Yourself has an action associated. Its not enough in a recession to build a short speech for use in a lift/elevator. You need to decide the three qualities you want to be known for personally and three qualities you need to be known for in business. The personal are trust building, the business are results building. You then need to target your efforts and then decide what makes you interesting, useful and important. Consider the who, what, where, why and how and build that into your short speech. Include an action, even if its asking for another contact to help you know more about the market, business, etc. Its not about collecting names, its about adding value through connections. The more value you bring the more “tradeable” points you have so the more opportunties come your way.

10. Putting your Resume/CV onto job boards. Personally I have had little to no success with this. The internet is too easy for people to apply, the government in the UK will only pay benefits for those applying for roles. This means every role that appears has 500+ applications, maybe more. Not so long ago I applied for a Managing Director role at a software company to be told they had over 500 applications and that the short-list was 5 of which I was one, however 2 of the candidates had run a business with different competitors. I was thankful to go from 500 to 5, however I am sure the retiring owner of the business would have preferred to hand it over to someone he knew who could do the job. The problem with the internet based job boards is they are swarming with activity. You will find the recruiters get all excited when you first post and then they will fade away. If you tweak your posted document they will all wake up again, only to fade away again. Its like fishing in a barrel of apples, the chance of finding a fish are near zero.

Now, all of the above are needed to get established as on the job market and researching for a role. While looking for a role I discovered a number of companies that could not afford to hire but certainly had the need for assistance, they could afford a few days a week or a month. The challenge is, while Redundancy severance is not taxed heavily any income you receive as a sole proprietor is taxed as if it was income from your employment. In the UK that is likely to be 40% and with NI contributions too could make working for yoruself a poor Return on Investment.

My next blog will explore how you can make the most of the smaller opportunities, how you may start a company and yet do so without an accountant, a whole heap of software and a lot of cost burden.

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