Looking for Work in a Recession How can I tell if my employer has financial problems? The days when a job was for life have long gone. Advances in technology, relocation of resources overseas or a downward turn within an industry can have a detrimental affect in the fortunes of a company. Some companies teeter on the edge of disaster for long periods whilst others, seemingly profitable, can disappear off the radar without warning. Regardless of your loyalty to an employer, it's usually better to leave a sinking ship rather than risk drowning with it, so here are the signs that you need to look out for to protect yourself and your career. • Closed-door meetings – If it appears that your manager suddenly becomes engaged in a series of meetings with the powers-that-be, or he exudes levels of stress previously suppressed, then impending redundancies could be on the cards. • Targets - Have your targets suddenly increased? Have you been given extra support to achieve these new targets or has more pressure been added to your workload? This could indicate that the company is ‘on the market' and, as such, it is trying to increase its sale value. www.monster.co.uk • Check the stock market - Look at the profits of your company – the information is freely accessible if your employer is listed on the stock exchange. If there is a sudden unexplained spate of executives selling their stocks and shares, it's a bad sign. • Look around the office - Sometimes the signs that there is trouble ahead are more obvious than you may think. Watch out for changes in company procedures with a focus on saving money. Has business travel or client entertainment been stopped or cut-back? Do you now have to get your expenses signed off by a higher member of staff? • Previous lay-offs - If there have been lay-offs in the past then it is likely there will be more in the future. Traditionally, employers would make redundancies in one foul swoop but, increasingly, organisations are favouring the little-by-little approach. You have to consider your own interests first. If you get a bad feeling that all is not well, there is probably a good reason for it. Trust your instincts and do some investigative work to satisfy your suspicions. After all, knowledge is power, right? Keep informed… Whether you’re looking for a new job or if you’re just looking to find out the general state of the market, our Employment News tool will help you up-to-date with what's going on in the world of recruitment and employment. ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession When is it the right time to change jobs? There are a lot of things to consider when deciding when and why to move on. To begin with, you need to assess where you are now, what you have achieved and where you want to be in a few years time. What do you enjoy about your present job? What don’t you enjoy? What do you feel is missing? What have you enjoyed about any previous roles you have done? How will you know when you have achieved it? As well as your own personal motives for wanting to change jobs, there are plenty of other reasons out of your control that cause you to leave your current position, including: • potential financial difficulties for your employer • your company moving into a different area of business • a collapse in communication with your manager or colleagues Spotting when the time is right If you do decide to leave a job, quitting at the wrong time can hit you in the pocket if you’re not careful. For example, leaving just before your big bonus is due is not very sensible. It’s a good idea to think about whether you’re currently paid in advance or in arrears as any change may affect your monthly cash flow. www.monster.co.uk If you’ve got a holiday planned, wait until you get back before handing in your notice. Your new employer won’t take kindly to you booking two weeks off during your probation period. Leave in a position of strength Once you’ve made the decision to leave, make sure you have somewhere to go before handing in your notice. Don’t be tempted to storm off in a huff or make some sort of statement if it means leaving yourself vulnerable. It’s much easier to find a job when you already have one. A long period of unemployment sends out a bad signal to a future employer. Don’t ignore the consequences of quitting before you have a new job lined up, no matter how much you dislike where you’re working. Apart from looking bad as you start applying for new jobs, voluntarily leaving your former role could compromise your eligibility for unemployment benefits. Money shouldn’t be the only reason If money is the overriding issue in your desire for change, have the courage to address it before thinking about leaving. If you don’t feel you’re getting paid enough, ask for more. This can be a scary experience, but it could solve your problem. See the options… There are thousands of careers available and it’ can seem like a daunting prospect to find out what’s right for you. That’s where our Career Snapshots tool comes in handy, allowing you to explore the options that are out there. ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession What happens if my company is taken over? Takeovers and mergers are becoming commonplace as companies face growing economic pressure and competition. And with change come new challenges, new demands and new personnel. When a company has been taken over and various departments merge it’s inevitable that certain roles will no longer be tenable. In general it’s the employees working for the company who are doing the buying that tend to keep their roles, although employees in the company being purchased usually have the chance to re-apply for their jobs. It's common for the remaining staff to feel de-motivated, anxious or sad that former colleagues - and friends - have lost their jobs. The group dynamic has changed and the introduction of new faces in the office may be met with a certain element of distrust, uncertainty and negativity with some staff feeling unclear about roles as brilliantly portrayed in comedy series, The Office. Further Reading - How do I handle office politics? - How do I integrate myself into a new team? www.monster.co.uk Changes in the office should be seen as a new challenge, so, how do you cope with the new faces in your office to make the changeover run as smooth as possible? • Keep an eye out - Company purchases usually take many months and you may hear rumours in the industry or even national press. • Find out the plans - Although it may not be easy information to extract, try and find out what s happening to your role as soon as you can. Regardless of whether you’re safe or under threat, prepare a case for why you’re valuable. • Make another first impression - Under the old regime you may not have got along with some of your former colleagues. Approach this change in the same way as you would your first day of work in a new job. • Break-down barriers - When new faces enter the office, there may be some people who feel that they had earned promotion instead of an office outsider or they assume that they have more responsibility simply because they have worked in the same office longer. Avoid being part of an ‘us and them’ environment. Be prepared to help your new colleagues settle into their new office and be on hand for your new boss. • Avoid nostalgia - It is tempting to look fondly on the way things used to be because with change comes uncertainty. But avoid getting sentimental - what may seem unusual now will become normal within a short period of time. ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession How should I cope with my redundancy? The days when you could land a job after leaving school or university and keep it until you chose to move on are long gone. Even in traditionally ‘safe' industries like banking or the Civil Service, redundancy has become a fact of life as organisations are forced to change to keep pace with market pressures. The first thing to remember is not to take it personally. Redundancy is a numbers game – reducing overheads and cutting positions which have been judged expendable for a variety of reasons. You may have seen it coming and take the final redundancy notice as a kind of relief from the uncertainty. However it happens, it's likely that you will feel angry, betrayed and possibly a bit desperate. These are all perfectly natural emotions but, as ever, it's how you respond that matters. Your redundancy package First off, find out what' redundancy package is on offer. Some employers just pay the bare minimum, others offer more attractive packages. Always take your time before making any decision, and discuss it with friends and family. www.monster.co.uk If you are offered another post which turns out to be totally unsuitable you are not obliged to take it. If your employer does try and force it on you, you will most likely have grounds for unfair dismissal. Contact your Trade Union or speak to an experienced advisor at your local Citizens' Advice Bureau. Don't sign anything until you've had it checked out by a qualified employment lawyer. What to do with the money Depending on how much you get, you may be able to realise a dream like starting your own business or paying off a big chunk of your mortgage. If you haven't got any immediate plans, you may fancy blowing some of it on a special treat. But think long and hard before you do, and don't blow the lot. Sign on to the dole straight away with Job Centre Plus or the benefits office. The financial support they provide is part of the reason you pay your taxes every month and by not registering you're throwing away free money. They will also be able to provide you with useful job hunting avenues. Explaining redundancy to your next employer Unless you were made redundant for gross misconduct, it's nothing to be ashamed of - it happens every day to good people like you. Be honest and direct with your potential employer and put a positive spin on things. ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession How can I manage a gap in my earnings? In an ideal world, the transition from one job to the next will be quick and without a loss of income. Unfortunately the reality is often very different. Even if the decision to move on was yours, the case may be that your old employer paid you in advance but, your new employer requires you to work a month in arrears. If it was not your decision, you may find yourself out of work for a few weeks or even months while you wait for the next opportunity to come your way. So how do you keep control of this temporary lack of income and without jeopardising your financial responsibilities? Keep a budget Working for a whole month without any pay does not have to be as daunting as you may at first think. Creating a budget enables you to stretch your final pay check further and prioritise your essential outgoings Reduce your spending where possible by cutting down on discretionary items such as eating out or other entertainment, at least until your new salary hits your bank account. Try and use cash whenever possible – it's much easier to control what you're spending when you have to keep going to the cash point every couple of days. www.monster.co.uk Balance your books Always pay your most important bills first. Mortgage or rent, utilities, transport and food shopping are usually your main priorities – anything after that can be considered a luxury. Consider changing your bank account to one that offers an interest- free overdraft facility. Many credit companies offer protection schemes for when you're out of work so take a look at the options available to you. If you have any personal loans, credit cards or a hire purchase agreement for your car then you want to consider contacting your creditors to negotiate lower payments or interest-free payments. Don't wait until you're behind on your payments or your creditors may be less flexible and your credit file will be marked if you miss a repayment. Hide away money If you are lucky enough to receive a large payment as part of a redundancy package. Invest the lump sum into a savings account and ‘pay' yourself monthly until you have found a new job. Managing a pay lull is not as difficult as you may think. By calculating your monthly outgoings and sticking to a budget for the next four or more weeks, you may find that you are more comfortable than you think. Further Reading - How can I save money? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession How can I keep busy while I'm unemployed? Although there is some solace in the fact that frequent corporate downsizing, international relocation and reorganisation are the norm in today's world, regardless of whether you have been unemployed for one month or one year you may begin to feel like damaged goods. And, clouding every interview that you attend is the dreaded question about why you have been unemployed for so long. But relax. The tips below will show you how you can, with the right approach. Keep your skills up to date When you have been out of work for a prolonged period of time, you need to work harder at your job search than someone who is still employed, which means that you need to find ways of improving your employment value. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends and developments in your industry by reading trade journals, taking a career-related course and attending industry conferences. Get your name out there Remember that not all jobs are advertised in the conventional way. Tell friends and ex-colleagues that you are looking for work and ask if they know of any companies that employ people with your skills. Word-of-mouth is your biggest promotional tool so use it to the maximum. www.monster.co.uk Online networking also has its benefits, especially if you can create a blog, writing about the industry in which you work. It will show potential employers your expertise and put you in contact with people you may have otherwise not come across. Providing articles for trade publications, or volunteering as a speaker at an industry seminar will also have the same effect. Consultancy work Unfortunately, your financial outgoings don't stop when your final salary does. But before you tap into your savings, consider marketing the skills and experience you fine-tuned when you were employed. Let your former clients and business contacts know that you are available for consultancy/freelance projects. Even voluntary work will help fill the gap on your CV. This not only keeps your skills updated, it also demonstrates your determination to find work and could open up new career opportunities. If you can demonstrate to employers that you have been doing everything you can to find work and to keep your skills and knowledge up to date, most will overlook the fact that you are currently unemployed. Always remain positive - rejections are part of life. Each ‘no' that you get moves you closer to that all-important ‘yes'. Further Reading - What is networking and how do I do it? - How can I benefit from conferences? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession How can I stay motivated during my job search? When you set out on your job search, it's rarely possible to guess how long it will go on for. As time passes, the rejections mount up and the budgets get tighter, it's easy to become disheartened. However, this is exactly the time when you need to dust yourself off and put in more hard work than ever. One of the main attributes of a successful job seeker is persistence. Here's a few tips to help you stay positive: • Start as you mean to go on - The first 30 minutes of your day are golden. The thoughts you think and the actions you take during this critical time affect your performance levels for the rest of the day. Instead getting up late, set your alarm as if you were going to work, have a shower and take a walk to get some fresh air in your lungs. • Set daily goals - If you don't have anything concrete to work towards, you have nothing to focus on and will find yourself achieving very little. Goals will keep your mind focused on the things that are important and keep you feeling positive about your future. • Set up the right environment - There's a lot to be said for being neat, tidy and organized. Make an area in your home where you can run your job search. It will help you stay focused on the target. www.monster.co.uk • Eat right - Your environment also includes what you put into your body. make sure you eat lots of fruit and vegetables, stay away from fatty foods and try to limit your alcohol intake. A healthy body generally leads to a healthy mind. • Create a support network - Forming an alliance with other job seekers will help you share experiences, get advice and give you an outlet for you inner feelings. Try to meet at lease once a week with your team and share strategies. • Remember the law of averages. The more calls you make, the more networking events you go to and the more applications you make, the greater your chances are of finding the job of your dreams. However resist the urge to blanket bomb every recruiter out there. You need to tailor your CV for each job. Sooner or later, you'll hit the right mark. • Enjoy the process - Job hunting is a time of transition and change and it can also be a very important time for self- development. Use this period to reassess your goals, find out what you really want to do and engross yourself in making yourself the best you can be. At every stage of your job search, you should look to get feedback. If you're not getting asked for interviews then get someone to have a look through your CV. If you're getting to the interview, but being rejected there you should find out what you're doing wrong. Fix these, and you'll find yourself in a job in no time. Further Reading - How can I make my CV more effective? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession Where can I find hidden vacancies? A common misconception about looking for a new job is that all vacancies will be either advertised or easily visible. Unfortunately, that couldn't be more wrong. Many vacancies are regarded as hidden, never to be seen by the majority of people - instead of advertising, employers will fill these vacancies by word-of-mouth, headhunting or simply recruit internally. Knowing how to get yourself in contention for these roles could give you a major boost when it comes to finding your next role. Getting the word out Using your network is the other main way to source hidden positions. Past employers, colleagues, friends, family and just about anyone you meet can form your network, and for serious jobseekers, even the most casual of meetings should be treated as a potential job lead. Conferences in particular provide an invaluable chance to meet a large number of useful contacts If you're looking for your first job, your teachers or professors can be an invaluable source of information about the job market. As experts in their field they're bound to have contacts in the relevant industry and will know your strengths better than anyone. Make the best use of your university careers facility while you're there. www.monster.co.uk Making a move Even if an employer doesn't have any vacancies at the present time, they will always be willing to create a position if an exceptional applicant comes along. This is done by contacting companies on a prospective basis to ask if they have any opportunities for somebody with your skills. The courteous way to carry this out initially involves giving them a call, preferably not during a stressful period, and then following up with an email thanking them for their time and attaching a copy of your CV. As well as searching for hidden vacancies, you still need to continue applying for the vacancies that are visible through regular search methods. They will let you know the kinds of job descriptions that are on the market and the kinds of people that are being sought to fill them. If you're hell-bent on working for a certain company and simply can't find a way in, consider applying for a lower level job and working your way up. Then you can use your contacts on the inside and be the first to hear about vacancies. Further Reading - How can I return to work after a career break? - How do I get headhunted? - How can I preserve my online reputation? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession How do I make a prospective application? Sending a speculative application can be a very effective method of securing a new job and may convince an employer to create a position for the right person - if you do it right. If you've identified the company that you want to work for, then here are some tips for succeeding with speculative applications. Identify who has the power to hire you and personalise your letter accordingly. You may already know their name but, if you don't, make sure that you find out by looking at the company's website or simply telephone to ask for their details. Most job hunters fall into the trap of treating a speculative application in the same way as an application for a specific advertised position. However, this blanket approach alienates prospective employers because applications are de-personalised, untailored and fail to address the requirements that that particular company looks for. Therefore, find out everything you can about the organisation from the internet, previous job adverts, networking or simply by telephoning the company themselves and talking informally with a member of the staff. Then, clarify in your letter the reasons why you have specifically targeted the company as your employer of choice. Be as www.monster.co.uk enthusiastic as possible about their products, services and general company demeanour – employers want to employ people who are passionate about their brand so you'll immediately be ahead of the rest. Your application is designed to unearth jobs that are likely to become available, before they are advertised internally or externally. Therefore, your letter has to be constructed in a hard-hitting way that will keep your details at the forefront of an employers mind when a position eventually arises. Give employers a reason to take note of you and tell them what kind of position you are seeking and what you can offer them. Sell yourself on the basis of your skills, expertise, knowledge and experience and don't limit yourself to one specific role. You're trying to get a foot in the door and if you take one role within a company, it's much easier to move internally to your real preferred position. Don't wait for an employer to respond to your application. It is possible that they will receive several CV's every day and they may not have time to respond on an individual basis. Telephone or email the employer a week later to establish personal contact and gauge if you are likely to be considered should a suitable position arise. If not, then use this as an opportunity to ask for feedback which will help improve your chances for future applications. Your targeted speculative application is designed to position you as a valuable addition to their company, not a ‘job-beggar'. By actively seeking out new opportunities, you will be demonstrating your initiative and motivation to work for the company and differentiating yourself from your potential competition. ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks Looking for Work in a Recession They say that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, but often it is. Our series of eBooks brings together expert advice to help you secure the job you want and build a successful career. For more career tools, visit career-advice.monster.co.uk.
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