Losing a job can be a major setback in your career journey. Whether temporary or long-term, joblessness breeds frustration and feeds self-doubt on your competence and suitability.
For most professionals, it is a turning point in their lives. Sadly, some never recover from the storm. For others, it is an opportunity to re-evaluate themselves and reengineer their career goals.
How you plan and spend your newfound freedom upon expiry of your contract determines how strongly you will spring back to your career when another opportunity comes around.
Mercy Mwirigi, a human resource professional, shares tips on how to remain relevant and productive when your career takes a slump.
SET UP A WORKSPACE AND BE ORGANISED
Few things compare with the temptations of working from home. Be vigilant lest laziness and being disorderly strike.
Remain professional even as you sit at home. Have a desk where you can work from in a more business-like environment.
Be organised in your work. Resist the temptation to work from the living room. Avoid the bedroom at all costs. Assume you are working from the office.
ENHANCE YOUR SKILLS; ACQUIRE NEW ONES
Like other professionals, you must have a bucket list of skills you would like to acquire in your lifetime. This could be learning how to skydive, accounting or to take a professional course. Sometimes pursuing such skills is not possible owing to the strenuous demands of your current job.
In the event that you find yourself out of employment, endeavour to have those skills under your belt. As you do this, seek to sharpen the skills that you already have. This might be your only chance to do this in a long time.
BUILD PROFILES ON JOB SITES
Job sites exist for a purpose. In this digital age, no serious professional can afford to not have a profile on any of the various online job sites available. And there are exclusive job sites for specific careers. Utilise these fully.
Employers hunt for professionals on these too. Build a profile on these avenues. Post your résumé here and keep updating it. Your employer could just be watching.
MAKE A ROUTINE AND HONOUR IT
When your job goes, you suddenly find yourself with tonnes of time in your hands, and scanty ideas on how to spend it. For someone who is used to strict schedules at work, this surplus time can be quite overwhelming.
But it can also lead to idleness and wastage. To avoid random activities that add little or no value to your professional profile, draft a personal timetable for all your activities.
Keep track of all that you do. Record the gains from such engagements. Remember: being out of contract is not an excuse mismanage your time and resources.
STUDY YOUR ORGANISATIONS OF INTEREST
There is no better time to research and learn about the companies that you have always desired to work with/for than when you have no current engagement.
This is so because you are objective in your evaluation, seeing as you are not attached anywhere. Find out details about their organisational culture, remuneration packages and policies and career progression channels.
Should you be invited for an interview in any of them in future, this information will come in handy.
DRAFT AND SPRUCE UP YOUR RÉSUMÉ
Few professionals update their CVs while they are actively employed. The general assumption is that your CV is important only when you are searching for a job. This is erroneous. Spend your free time to spruce it up.
Be keen to add details such as new skills that you have acquired to your résumé. Research on different CV formats.
This will ensure a finer and more fetching document when an interview knocks at your door.
KEEP TABS ON TRENDS AND NEWS IN YOUR PROFESSION
A dizzying lot happens in the professional world. Being in the loop of all that takes place is virtually impractical. It is, therefore, possible to choke on news and trends.
This is especially the case with the distraction from your job. Your state of unemployment, therefore, allows you to stay in the know of all that takes place in your profession.
After all you have the time to read through blogs, magazines and watch analyses. No one wants to look rusty when they finally start working again.
BUILD AND MAINTAIN IMPORTANT NETWORKS
Ask any professional today and they will admit how hard it is to maintain professional and social networks. People interact with others, collect their business cards but stash them in a forgotten drawer somewhere in the house.
Reason? There is hardly time to hook up with their new friends. You could productively revive your ties with your networks as you wait for your next job. Build other networks and maintain them.
Who knows, these people might be the bridge to your next job.
FREELANCE. FREELANCE. FREELANCE
Freelancing is a smart way to keep actively engaged in your career. It also helps to keep your professional rifle well lubricated. If a writer, for instance, seize this freedom to write for as many publications as you can handle.
The experience you gather from the different engagements is priceless. And then, there is the money to keep you going.
BECOME A TEMP
Besides freelancing, you could also look out for small temporary jobs in your line of career. While these require less commitment, such jobs will earn you some money to keep you afloat, and cushion you from doing much damage to your credit card.
RESEARCH ON OPPORTUNITIES ELSEWHERE
You do not have to work in your country throughout your entire professional life. During the break from your career, be on the lookout for opportunities elsewhere in the world. As a professional, you should be able to work from anywhere. The world is much smaller nowadays.
RECONFIGURE YOUR CAREER GOALS
It is easy to slide into complacency once you settle down on your job. The hunger for performance diminishes while the appetite for growth dulls. There is no worse state in the life of a professional than this. Once you lose your job, the risks that characterise your profession swing into clear view.
This way, it is easier to chart a clearer career course, to determine where you wish to be professionally in the next couple of years; and to plan accordingly.
IDENTIFY YOUR MENTOR
Do you have a mentor? If not, identify someone who can offer the necessary professional support as you embark on the next phase of your career. It helps to have someone on whose shoulder you can lean on when the course gets tempestuous.
If you already have one, this is probably the best time to be closer to them.
Over and above everything, watch your lifestyle. Be disciplined about what you eat and drink. Exercise regularly. Maintain high levels of personal grooming. This way, you will be ready when a new opportunity comes up. Do not make yourself a hard sell.