Although unemployment rates are still highest among the under 25s, the rates among older workers continue to creep up as industries restructure, companies delayer middle management, and businesses seek to recruit new technology skills. Older employees still need to take control of their career and manage their job options – and a networking strategy can be a vital part of that process.
For those of us over the age of 50, we have to be smarter than ever about the way we manage our careers, especially as we enter the so-called third phase of our working lives. Too many mature aged professionals and executives learn some hard lessons about navigating their employment options, especially following a redundancy. The way we used to look for work has changed over the course of our careers, making the traditional job search tactics of scouring weekend newspaper ads and sourcing vacancies through mates an obsolete strategy. In the career support work we do with professionals at Bravo we hear lots of stories, we see the career mistakes people make and we see some common scenarios that accompany redundancy.
The most frequent mistake we see is when someone takes a substantial redundancy package. Typically this payout exceeds anything they have ever received in a single, lump sum. The temptation is often to take a career break, go on an extended holiday, pay off the mortgage, and maybe do some home renovations.
The idea of a career break appeals to many, especially those who have worked hard and accumulated a lot of sick leave, because for years they simply go to work each day and rarely take time off. A holiday is a great way to de-stress and clear one’s mind to make better decisions going forward, such as fixing up the house, decorating or adding a new room or two – all have their merits. Paying off the mortgage is one of those life events worth celebrating. For those who can live comfortably on a vastly reduced salary post-redundancy, these all appear to be prudent actions with little immediate financial consequence.
But for those who are not in a position to retire early, work part-time, or take a significantly reduced salary, the above strategy can amount to career suicide. Many people fail to realise that the length of time it can take to find new employment: as a rough rule-of-thumb, it may require one month of job hunting for every year of employment in their previous job. If you calculate potential lost earnings on the basis of a $100k salary, in 6 months that’s $50K before taxes. If you’ve opted to pay off your mortgage will this come back to haunt you in the event of a longer-than-expected period of unemployment?
Should people NOT take holidays, pay off their mortgages or renovate their homes? Of course not! However, if you knew you were going to be out of work for a year after losing your job, what would you have done differently to strengthen your chances of finding meaningful employment prior to being faced with redundancy? Here are some tips:
- Be proactive by always thinking ahead, and take the time to research other career options.
- Consider engaging a good career management consultant who can work with you to explore your personal needs, skills, interests and values and define what your options are for new employment.
- Keep developing your professional network, zeroing in on people who are working in the industry you are targeting.
- Ask your contacts for advice on how to break into the industry and what skills and qualifications are prerequisite for entry into that sector.
- Undertake regular online research on the market to see who is doing what.
- Make the time to attend events or conferences in the sectors that interest you and establish new contacts.
In short, developing a networking strategy will likely shave months off your job search and vastly increase the likelihood that you will get what you want! And you can still enjoy your holiday!
Posted by Scott Spaulding
If you need help with your post-redundancy job search , or simply want a career “health check”, contact Bravo Consulting for more information about how we can help you make that all-important career move.