Coping with job loss

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Pessimism will get you nowhere.

Like many things in life, redundancy can be seen as challenge or an opportunity. It may be a heavy blow at the time but real positives can be drawn from the situation. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Treat redundancy as an opportunity - a chance to re-evaluate your career goals and tackle new challenges.

Practical guidance

· Don't be too quick to flood the market with CVs, running around to find a job, any job. It's important to take time to reflect.

· Avoid the scattergun approach to recruiters. There's a temptation to apply for jobs you can do rather than jobs you want.

· Update your CV early on, taking care to highlight your accomplishments.

· Be sure to ask for outplacement as it provides crucial support and advice on maximising your offering, impact and effort.

At the same time, consider where you want to be in five years' time. Visualise pressing the fast forward button on your life, and imagine yourself into the future. As a bonus you can design your ideal job. In this vision of the future you are not constrained by anything. Visualise how you spent yesterday in this ideal role, and build a job description.

The ideal skill set

Now imagine yourself as the person to whom you report in this ideal job. You have to recruit the ideal candidate. What skills, knowledge and expertise does the very best candidate need? Now you have a specification for your ideal job. Rewind. Return to today.

Review your skill set against the competencies of this imagined best candidate. Be brutal. Think about the competencies needed and honestly assess where you are today so that you can work on acquiring the tools you need. Talk to a couple of people you trust about your skills and aspirations.

Develop new skills

Once you know what job you want and what you need to get it, start looking for ways to get there. Produce a development plan for the skills, knowledge and expertise you need develop to be the best possible candidate.

How do you persuade an employer to hire you so that you can gain skills you don't have? Recruiters tend to want to hire only those with the prerequisite skills, so you're debarred from selection if you want but don't have this skill set. So identify who has the power to hire you - the 'point of purchase'. The wider your network, the greater your chances of success. But recognise that an introduction will only get you the meeting, not the job.

Network inside and out

Networking is an essential skill. Around 80% of recruitment results from networking introductions. Most people know this but hate networking and are not confident about it. Feel awkward and hate asking for help? Get over it! If you explain that you ask because you respect the opinion of your contact most will happily help. You are building internal and external networks for your career progression using your contacts to get to people who wield real influence.

Redundancy doesn't necessarily close off internal opportunities, but most organizations pay only lip service to the idea of redeployment, so be proactive. If you don't have the requisite skill set for a role, how are you to develop what we call in the trade your aspirational competencies?

Well, the organization that knows you best is your current employer. They are most likely to offer you an opportunity to develop these aspirational competencies as they already know what you are capable of. Network internally, share your view of the future with your current employer to see if you can make an internal career transition.

Establish an edge

If you can't or don't want to stay where you are, start targeting companies and roles where you'll be able to build on your competencies. Again, network. The stigma of redundancy has gone, everyone knows someone who's been through the mill so they'll be sympathetic. Could they look on internal jobs boards for you, ask their manager, outline the corporate culture of an organization so you have an edge when it comes to an interview?

Good things can come from bad situations. Fairplace surveyed their clients and discovered that 43% found new roles with a salary higher or the same as they earned before redundancy. However, you may need to be flexible to facilitate a career shift or broaden your experience in the marketplace. It's your career so take control and explore all your options.

Checklist for the proactive, empowered job seeker

· Maintain a positive outlook - don't play the victim. Redundancy is an opportunity.

· Make sure you get outplacement services.

· Think about your career plan and moving forward.

· Target employers and network to get yourself in front of them.

· Good luck.

It's said we make our own luck, so this article is designed to help you start making changes for a brighter future.

Michael Moran is chief executive of outplacement provider Fairplace.

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