September 8, 2020

The 10 Rules for Reemployment, according to Olivia Jules

By Tony Boobier

Following up on my sharing of new approaches to using your time between jobs, here are 10 rules for reemployment.

Each of these are simple practical steps that you can start putting into practice now. To help you cope better with what can be a stressful time and move positively towards the next role that is right for you.

These are shared by Tony Boobier, who has over 30 years experience in business to share from. Tony has shared with us before on being more discerning, innovating in lockdown & communicating bad news. Now, over to Tony to give us his 10 rules for reemployment & how the fictional character Olivia Jules inspired them.

A tricky time to navigate

There’s no easy way to say it. But because of the pandemic, there are going to be a lot of people looking for jobs in the future. According to data, the number of people in work dropped by 730,000 in the UK from March to July. Some say that trend is likely to continue as the government furlough scheme comes to an end.

At the same time many have been reflecting on their current job and thinking, perhaps even hoping, that there’s something better or perhaps just different for them in the world of work. For that particular group, whilst they may still be in employment it may also be time to look for something new.

So what might constitute useful advice to jobseekers at this tricky time, especially when supply exceeds demand? 

Olivia Jules inspires a 10 point plan

Here’s an eight-point plan, loosely based on an extract from a book ‘Olivia Jules’ by Helen Fielding, also of ‘Bridget Jones’ fame. 

By way of background, the fictional character Olivia Jules is a journalist who suffers from self-doubt. She lives by a set of rules to help her along.

As a topic in itself, self-doubt can affect many people, even those who appear self-confident on the surface. It often arises through lack of self-esteem, how we accept ourselves, if we have been passed over for jobs, or perhaps (in this particular setting) if we find ourselves on the wrong end of a headcount reduction process.

The Rules of Reemployment

For the sake of a title, let’s call them ‘Rules of Reemployment’.

(1) Take time to think

Don’t panic. An old English prayer refers to ‘thinking as a source of power’, and now may just be a time when you might need every bit of power you can lay your hands on. 

(2) Consider job hunting a job in itself

Set yourself a project programme comprising a series of individual projects or exercises. This might comprise market research, tidying up your social media pages (or enhancing them), and ‘revisiting’ your CV. Remember that you are not writing ‘War and Peace’ in your CV. Rather that you are providing enough relevant and tempting information to make someone want to speak with you.

(3) Take a good hard look at yourself

You should also take advice from others, as to what are your particular strengths. Even in difficult times, organisations will still be interested in people with particular attributes. Create a personal plan to differentiate yourself in some way which will be viewed favourably by a prospective employer.

Make lists of:

Personally, I find that the physicality of writing a list makes your actions feel more tangible.

(4) Be focussed

Don’t adopt a shotgun approach towards reemployment. Instead, identify which industries, companies and functions might be best aligned to your skills and capabilities. Think of yourself as an important chess piece who is prepared to move diagonally on the chessboard where it can. Unlike the poor chess pawn who, whilst important from time to time, can usually only stumble forward step by step. 

(5) Plan for failure

By this, I mean that you may have to accept that your job hunting project might not be an overnight success. Assess your savings and financial obligations, and think about what you might need to do, or are willing to do, to pay the bills. What part-time or contract work might you be willing to do as an interim role? Is there something you can do to set up a micro business?

(6) Develop yourself personally

Are there any gaps in your skillset that you might be able to enhance? With data and analytics being so topical at the moment, are there any courses or self-learning that you can do to enhance your personal marketability?

Think of the issue also from an interview point of view. Do you have a sensible answer to the question ‘What did you do in the lockdown? Create an answer which might not only impress your interviewer but also differentiate you as a candidate. If you didn’t do anything, think about starting now. I mean now, today.

(7) Consider resetting your career

The ongoing pandemic could also be an opportunity to completely reset your career. The world of work is already changing, not just in terms of homeworking. It’s changing with regards to how traditional roles will be affected by advanced analytics and automation. The near future will demand more people with technical and data science skills, and you may have a role to play in serving that demand.

One particular challenge is that there is less scope now to ‘learn on the job’, as employers increasingly want new employees to hit the ground running. Gaining as much experience as you can (by practising manipulating publically available data sets for example) will reap rewards in the future.

(8) Rehearse your interview

Many of us have been forced to work in a home environment and will have already thought about how we present ourselves online, in a virtual environment. Online interviews will increasingly become the norm so it’s really important to prepare yourself for that event. How can you as an individual be impactful especially in what might only be a small window of time?

In the same way that we might have been judged in part by what we were wearing, the ‘new’ interview process is now subliminally affected by what is in the background of the video shot. What does the video background also say about you, as an individual?  (Personally I’m not a big fan of virtual backgrounds where I am virtually meeting people. I don’t know but at the end of the day it’s a matter of taste, I suppose.)

(9) Be kind to yourself.

Don’t feel guilty about matters and a situation that is mainly outside your control. Don’t assume that life is fair and that you might personally have done something in the past to change the outcome. Remember that there probably wasn’t anything else that could have happened, given the job that you once had (or still have), and the current state of the world as it is. The past can’t be rewritten but you can change the present so it’s best to focus on that

(10) Think about your physical & mental wellbeing

Healthy in body, healthy in mind’ as they say. Pragmatists may reasonably argue that sometimes it’s hard to focus on one’s wellbeing when things are tough. Maslow’s Hierarchy suggests that people are motivated by five levels of needs. He shows that our psychological demands (the stimulation we need to complete a task) can only be really satisfied when we feel safe and secure. This is harder when we are out of work and are trying to find a way to pay the bills. But as difficult as it seems, taking time out during a brisk walk or during some form of exercise does wonders for the thinking and planning process.  

Rules for reemployment or lockdown haircut?

To summarise, you might find these rules are of some help as you go forward in what is likely to be a challenging time. On the other hand, you might find my suggested list is only good ‘in parts’- a bit like the ‘lockdown haircut’ which my wife gave me several months ago. 

But finally, you might even think that there is a final, additional rule to add. Which is that you should write your own rules for reemployment.  What better way is there for you to stop being a victim of circumstances, and for you to retake control of your life and career?

Thanks, Tony, for your tips. I just want to add my best wishes to all those currently needing to achieve reemployment or reboot their careers. I hope this post helps spark some ideas and actions to move forward. More coming on this theme as I aim to support those facing this challenge this year.