Saturday, December 31, 2011

Redundees Anonymous

As part of my generous redundancy package I was given time with an outplacement company. I’d never heard of this kind of service before and I imagined it was a head hunting organisation that would grab my resume and run with it to the nearest large corporation who would want to pay me a gazillion dollars.

Outplacement companies do not do that.

Just like in the movie “The Company Men”, I resisted starting my outplacement experience because I knew that once I started it was all too real. I would then be officially a job seeker, one of those statistics, one of the 40,000 jobless people in Australia.

Once I made the appointment though, I was quite excited about what was included. Not only did I have my own executive consultant who would coach me into finding my next dream job, but they also offered group workshops where I could meet others in my situation and network with people who had gone through the same thing and survived.

My consultant showed me the reality of job searching with some stats and graphs of data he’d been collating over the years which gave me an honest look on what I should expect. Despite my intentions to be employed in a month, he told me that it could take 6-12months to land a great position in a company I wanted to work for. I didn’t believe him, so I gave myself three months. Here I am at six.

We worked on my strategy. Apparently just sitting back and hoping for job offers to come rolling in is not a viable strategy.

We reworked my resume. It needed more than four words. (I want a job).

We worked on my personal pitch, my elevator speech, my 2 minutes of “about me” that would land me an invitation to meet with hiring managers.

And then I booked in for the workshops.

The very first group session I went to, I secretly wanted to video it. There were about ten of us sitting in a circle with the purpose of talking about our experience and learn about how we keep ourselves buoyant and motivated. At first we had to introduce ourselves to the group with a little blurb about us. Everyone in the group was shy, myself included. I have never been the first one in a group to speak up, in fact public speaking makes my heart beat so fast that I am sure I have been on the verge of many heart attacks in the past. Regardless, I was reinventing myself so I decided to introduce myself first.

“Hi, my name is Lisa and I am a recovering redundee” was not received well in the room and anyone wanting to open fire with a machine gun would have been warmly welcomed. I thought it was funny, but the looks on the faces of my new friends told me otherwise. And then the penny dropped. Most of the group were late 50’s males in executive positions with families and mortgages. They probably would not land another job like the one they were in. They were most likely mortgaged to the eyeballs with kids in private schools, and here I was, the second income earner of our family and making light of what had happened.

I redeemed myself by keeping quiet for the rest of the session.

I went to a styling session where my personal stylist suggested I get rid of the greys and the tummy. First impressions counted and my new potential employee may consider my greys as not having any “attention to detail”. Regardless of my earlier promise of wearing my greys and wrinkles as a badge of wisdom and honour, I dyed my hair that afternoon. I also booked into Pilates and became friends with my cross trainer that had been getting dusty at home. I was reminded that every opportunity is one to network, and even when out shopping I may run into my next “boss” so always be mindful of what I wear. I invested in a couple of Akira dresses. (OK, so I had been eyeing off those lovely dresses for months and now decided to justify spending the equivalent amount of a small countries debt).

I went to self-care workshops and learnt how to visualise. Apparently I am really good at this! (but was advised not to add this as a skill to resume).

I went to a session on personal branding and using social media to my advantage. As a Facebook addict, I needed to apply my skills to LinkedIn and Twitter. Proudly, my LinkedIn status was used as an example to the class. And I was able to make a few more connections with my new group.

I was loving these workshops so much I didn’t want to ever get a job.

And then I went to a workshop that changed everything. Everyone in the group was just like me, made redundant and searching for work. I was the only one in the room who was upbeat and positive, and those around me were depressed and working on amazing impressions of “Eeeyore”. I knew for my own well being that I either had to be the best positive influence in the room or take a break from workshops.

I took a break.

Exercise became my friend in the place of the workshops.

I have not returned to the workshops, but I have started seeing my consultant again.

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