After Theresa May suddenly became prime minister in a matter of days last month, ministers who thought they had time to plan their next career moves found themselves out of a job overnight. People in this position often feel anger and pain, confusion and disillusionment as well as feeling powerless and depressed. But here are some tips for anyone else who finds themselves in a similar predicament, suddenly having to navigate the unemployment path in search of a new job.
1. Accept the decision quickly. Pondering will only delay your ability to move on. Deal with your emotions swiftly if you can because you won’t bounce back and get on with an effective job hunt until you’ve faced your negative emotions. You will need to portray a positive image to future employers.
2. Take a break – even if just for a few days. Perspective can be a great thing and help to clear your mind and open it to new possibilities. Use it as time to vent your emotions and get the negative feelings out of your system. This is important, giving you time to reflect, improve how you feel and spur you on to project yourself well to others. No hirer wants to hire a negative person and, if you are feeling negative, that will come through during an interview or when you’re networking.
3. Be positive about your achievements. Your exit is not all that history will remember. Reflect on what you brought to the role and what you did well. Keep a perspective and don’t allow the fact that you have lost your job to overshadow an otherwise untarnished career. Focus on your highlights and achievements rather than this one-off event and how those skills you have will be useful in future positions.
4. Update your profile/CV and send it to all relevant people - trusted recruiters and former colleagues. Work out how you will present this blip in your career and how you will explain it on your CV. Detail your achievements in the role and don’t give the reason for leaving. Decide how you will talk about it in interviews with head hunters, recruitment consultants as well as future employers. It’s important to demonstrate that you have moved on emotionally and have learned from this blip. Practice appropriate responses to the question "why did you leave your last job?" It may be that the company restructured, merged or downsized. Talk about what the experience taught you if you were fired for performance reasons. Don’t dwell on it but highlight how you are addressing the problem. Honesty can be the best policy.
5. Email ex colleagues/bosses to thank them for the opportunities you had. You might need them in the future. Exit from your job as gracefully as you can and don’t fire off angry emails or bad-mouth the boss.
6. Make sure you have references. Try to agree any wording of a reference letter before you leave will be helpful and useful. Keeping a folder of positive appraisal reviews and endorsements from clients and colleagues, as well as previous employers can help speed up your job search.
7. Don’t go for interviews immediately. Prepare yourself and take time to decide what your career priorities are and plan your next move carefully – you might decide to stay in the same sector, or you might move into consultancy or freelancing. Resist firing off untailored CVs in a desperate bid to secure a new job.
8. Don’t panic. Trust in your skills & experience and don’t feel you should take whatever you can or the first job that comes along as soon as you get offered it. Spending time researching target companies you might like to work for will reap rewards. Reflect on your skills and experience and find examples to illustrate these and present these clearly in all your dealings with prospective employers. Spell out why you want to work for that particular employer and why you make a good match, rather than giving them the impression that you are applying for jobs with a scattergun approach.
Sinead Hasson is MD and founder of recruitment company Hasson Associates which she established in 2008.
Image credit: World Economic Forum