Taking Care of Yourself When Facing Change

With unemployment in Australia at its highest since 2002, we are seeing more businesses taking measures to restructure and offshore or outsource their processes, meaning job security is becoming a thing of the past.

If your job hasn’t been affected by redundancy at some point in your career, it’s likely you know someone whose job has. My own experience with job loss was when I was asked to apply for my position within my company as part of their restructure. In this instance, I was offered a different role that was less appealing. I wasn’t offered a redundancy package if I left because I was being “redeployed”. Due to my dissatisfaction with this process, I ended up resigning without any sort of payout. I remember this being a very stressful time for me and worked with a Career Advisor to help me keep my perspective. The positive outcome was that I took on some higher level HR contract work where I built up my skills and set me on a more rewarding career path.

The emotional effects of organisational change can differ from person to person, but in my experience it’s common for people to lose confidence and have a sense of displacement as they process their feelings. The initial news of job loss can bring a sense of shock and can be disorientating, raising the following questions:

  • Why me?
  • What will my family and friends say?
  • How will I pay the bills?

It can, however, also be a time of reflection and a time of discovery as you consider – what’s next for me?Change Traffic LightsThere are a number of techniques to help manage what can be a stressful time.

  • Engage the services of a career coach to help you work through this period of change. Having someone to provide guidance and support can keep you motivated as you move towards new career goals.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with family members as they are likely to feel the emotional effects of your loss.
  • As you catch up with friends, let them know what’s happened as they can be a good support base through this tough time.
  • Be clear about your financial circumstances and prepare a budget to see you through to starting a new job. Seeking out the services of a financial advisor is also an option.
  • Find out whether you are entitled to government benefits by contacting Centrelink (in Australia) as this may help ease the finance situation.
  • Keep active – if you have a regular exercise regime, stick at it. Or consider this as a good time to start one. Even a 30 minute walk each day is enough to get your endorphins going, which can help you feel more positive and uplifted.
  • Set a routine of daily job search activity and track this to keep you motivated. Each job application sent, invitation to interview or networking meeting is a milestone on your way to your new career.
  • Remember that, if needed, professional help is available by getting in touch with your doctor. Some companies offer people outplacement programs as well as access to counselling services via an Employee Assistance Program, so it can pay to ask this question to the Human Resources Manager.
  • Give yourself permission to take timeout and do things just for you.

rosesChange affects people in different ways; from feeling powerless and finding it hard to move forward or viewing this as a time to seek out new and exciting ventures. Last year my partner David was advised his IT position was made redundant as part of cost cutting measures at his firm. In observing his reaction to this news, I was surprised to see how calmly he accepted his situation showing minimal signs of stress or negativity. I felt worried at the time as I was well aware that it can take some months to secure a suitable job.

Fortunately, things turned around quickly for David and after returning from a trip to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago, he secured an IT management position. All up he had a three month break including travel, home renovations plus some job search activity. This year David is completing a community leadership course to build up his skills and help him remain competitive in the employment market. I wonder whether he would have taken this step if he hadn’t been faced with the changes in his last job.

If you, a friend or a loved one needs help, confidential crisis support is available via:

Lifeline – 13 11 14  |  Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636

Here’s an extra resource (PDF) by Beyond Blue called Taking Care of Yourself After Retrenchment or Financial Loss

How to tailor your resume towards the job you want

When you are applying for a particular role in your chosen field, does your resume show roles that Resume Pic Scrabbleare significantly different to your career path? Does your resume have the hiring manager scratching their head and wondering “is this person a librarian, admin assistant or barista?”

At some point many of us have made decisions to take on work that suited our needs at the time. For instance, doing bar work whilst backpacking overseas, working in a café whilst studying, or labouring for a mate when you’ve just moved to a new town. Maybe opportunities in our field are not presenting themselves and we just need to pay the bills.

I helped someone recently who needed a bank loan to build his dream home and he was having trouble securing permanent work as a teacher. He decided to take a permanent part time job in a factory so his consistent income met the criteria for his bank loan. Consequently, we have worked on putting together two resumes – one for manual labour work and one for when he decides to return to his teaching career.

What can you do when your resume is telling all sorts of stories that may be unclear to the reader about your career objectives. Keep in mind that your resume is a flexible document that is best tailored to the roles you’re applying for. You need to decide what to include and what to leave off so that you demonstrate how you are an ideal match for the role.

Here’s some tips to streamline your resume and send a clear message to the hiring managers:

Career Summary

This paragraph outlines the job you do and the industry you have experience in. Write some points that address or highlight your relevant knowledge, skills and attributes and tailor these to the criteria set out in the job ad.

Work Experience

How you outline your work history can make a difference. Accentuate the roles that are related to the one you’re applying for. This means including jobs on your resume where you have worked in the same industry or the roles where you have used the skills needed for the work you’re applying for. For example, a teacher could include the following work experience:

  • Primary school teaching
  • Facilitating gardening workshops
  • Training staff in a cafe
  • Assisting in an office, lab or classroom in a university or training facility.

Transferable Skills

As we build up our work experience and strengthen our skills we can demonstrate on the resume how these skills can be applied to other jobs. Some key attributes that you often see on job advertisements include:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Customer service
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Organisational skills
  • Works well under pressure

How many roles can you think of that need these skills? To make these skills stand out on your resume you can highlight them in the following ways:

  • Mention how you’ve used these skills in the Career Summary section;
  • Write achievement statements that detail how you added value to the organisation;
  • Include a section called “Skills, Knowledge and Attributes” with a couple of sentences talking about how you demonstrated each skill or competency.

We talk about making a good first impression at interview. The same applies with your resume as you are setting the agenda for further discussion. Make sure your resume captures the reader’s attention by showing you’re a good fit for the job and this will improve your chances in being selected for interview.

Get in touch with Gen to help you develop a resume that markets your strengths.

Be Prepared to Have a Go

Wise words by Gail Kelly, Westpac CEO about backing yourself.

“My advice and counsel to women – indeed it’s advice and counsel more broadly, but in particular to women – is to back yourself. Be prepared to have a go, be prepared to put your hand up be prepared to put your hand up before you think you’re ready for a role,” she said.

“Many, many women want to be 100 per cent ready for a job before they’re prepared to put their hand up and say have a look at me – my advice to young women in their careers is to back yourself so people out there want to support you, ask for the opportunities, dig deep when those opportunities come your way, and have a go.”

~ Gail Kelly is the first female CEO of one of Australia’s major banks. In the press last week was the announcement of her retirement. You can read more here about seven lessons Gail has learned in her career.

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Last week I attended a training course facilitated by Professor Jim Bright on Career Coaching, Counselling and Assessment. The first question he asked was “have you arrived in your current job by choice or by chance?” Jim is the co-author of the book called “The Chaos Theory of Careers” and this training covered how our careers are often shaped by unplanned events. Continue reading

Turn Wishful Thinking into an Action Plan

Do you aspire to do things differently or make changes for the better but end up making excuses and doing nothing? Changing habits is about making a commitment to changing our behaviour or actions in areas that are important to us, such as health, money, work and relationships. It’s about identifying what you’d like to improve and taking manageable steps towards making this change.

Goal Wish Quote

I’ve written previously on the topic of procrastination and wanted to expand on this with some more strategies to get you moving forward. To get you thinking about how you can make a change, here are five questions to ask yourself: Continue reading

The Wonder of Remote Interviewing


A Prague job interview for an Irish woman travelling in Rajasthan, by Genevieve Ward

This month I’ve taken some time out from my business to travel through parts of India. My partner and I are two thirds of the way through a tour of Rajasthan, where we’ve visited palaces and forts, walked through small farming villages and market places, interacted with some of the local people and enjoyed their delicious food. It’s been an amazing experience so far. Continue reading

Being Paid for What You Love

Change Quote Lao TzuI admire people who recognise that their chosen job is ‘not for life’ and then do something about it. My Mum started studying for a university degree in her 40s and has since transitioned from working as a Personal Assistant to working in mental health as a Carer Consultant – a role which she thoroughly enjoys.

Being open to a new career path and exploring ways to make this happen, can pay off when you find yourself being paid for what you love. Here’s a couple of career change stories to give you some inspiration:

Cheers, Gen