My observations at being out of work. The good, the bad and the ugly.... | DMA

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My observations at being out of work. The good, the bad and the ugly....


Being out of a job is a strange feeling, don’t let anyone tell you differently

On the one hand, it's liberating as it provides an escape from corporate life that you may have got very used to. I spent the last 9 years of my life living and breathing new technologies at O2 and loved both the company and the sector.

Having been out of the industry for the last 2 months, its amazing the different perspectives you now get. Technology is important but there isn’t the same excitement on the street to the new Samsung S7 launch or the latest news from Apple and frankly, nor should there be. The same goes for Marketing. Unless you have something that is truly stand-out, then the majority of Marketing becomes noise – either everyone is saying the same thing ‘come to us as we are the cheapest/ sale now on’ or they focus on an attribute which in head-office may be seen as a true differentiator but in reality is still just wallpaper to the consumer. It is easy to get lost in the corporate ivory tower and not see the wood for the trees and to really ask ‘would my customers truly care about this?’

One piece that stands out for me is the Under Armour advert with Michael Phelps. Its a beautiful story that shows the extremes that Olympians go through to achieve their dreams and a gold medal. It's a stand out story in a world of Direct Response marketing and 'buy now/ pay later' deals.

Taking time out also allows you to think and to be selfish (for once) --- to ponder when you were happiest (at work/ at home) and to match those feelings to what you do next. I love writing and so have taken some time out to write more blogs and articles than ever before.

This thinking time also allows you to pursue dreams that you never thought possible. If you were fortunate enough to receive some money when you left, then calculate how far it will spread (number of months etc). Then give yourself a deadline ‘if I don’t crack breaking into this type of industry in x-months, then I will go back to the types of roles and companies I know best’. So many people have told me ‘being out of a job was the catalyst that allowed me to get into something I loved’.

My advice – if, for example, you always wanted to get into sports as I would like to, then be brave, ignore the devil on your shoulder telling you that you know nothing about it and go for it – start following the companies and gurus in the space, go to conferences, network, write blogs, rewrite your CV and LinkedIn profile to be skewed towards the industry, tell as many people as you can about your dreams (they have connections!) and above all else, don’t take no for an answer.

Linked to this, make sure you are ready for the question ‘so what are you up to now/ why do you think you have the skills to break into this industry’. Don’t do all the leg work and create a potential opening only to fall flat on your face. Have your 30 second (lift conversation), 2 minutes (conference conversation) and 5 minutes (dinner party conversation) ready. How will you make an impression?

As you would expect, there are significant downsides to being out of work that you will need to embrace and accept. On top of no salary, you wont be as busy as you were before. Previously, you may have worked 10 - 12 hour days running a function, balancing leadership with personal development and line management, multi-tasking and being ‘always on’. When you are out of a job doing 10 – 12 hour days is impressive but probably a waste of time – we have all heard those stories of Reggie Perrin/ Gerald from The Full Monty --- characters who get dressed as they always did for work, leave at the same time, kiss their wife and go through the same routine only to sit in the café all day. Don’t feel guilty, especially men of a certain generation.

It is natural to feel the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ complex especially after the initial flurry of calls and meetings with headhunters stop. I received advice from a recruitment consultant that said you have about a 12 – 15 month window to get back into work life before questions start getting asked. Embrace the time you have off and don’t jump at the first person who flutters their eyelashes at you. Take your time, explore and look to uncover the skeletons in the closet before you say yes to anything.

Being out of work is liberating as well as frightening. Accept both. Enjoy picking the kids up from school/ spending more time at home or pursuing the hobbies that you always wanted to. Don’t feel guilty and don’t cave into the devil on your shoulder.

Believe in yourself & above all else - good luck!

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