There are lots of folks looking for work in Calgary right now. So, I’m getting more calls and emails than usual asking for job hunting advice. Here are a few tips:
If you still have a job…
- Resist the temptation to hibernate or hide. You never know what may happen but this is a great time to ramp up your outreach, networking and connecting with colleagues. And, if you haven’t been doing this all along, it isn’t too late (not completely anyway…but don’t let yourself get out of touch again.)
- Be kind to the job searchers. Return their calls. Offer encouragement. You never know what your future will be so try to pay it forward if you can. (You should be doing this all the time, not just in tough times!)
- Be kind to the consultants who are looking for work. They too may be suffering a downturn in their work. And, you will need them again soon so keep the door open and the relationship strong…even if you can’t offer a project.
- Do your job with enthusiasm and your best effort. (Of course you’re always doing that, right?)
Manage expectations in your search…
- This may not be the time that you can move to something bigger and better for more money. Be realistic. If you’re coming from the energy sector and looking elsewhere, modify your expectations to the reality of where you are looking. That will almost always mean less money, but can (but not always) mean more flexibility, more meaning in your work, more opportunity for creativity and more stability. It’s always a tradeoff but there are lots of good things on both side of this fence.
- Remember that there will be much more competition for every job posting so make sure your application is as truly excellent as it can be. (See my tip sheets on resume writing and interviewing on the recruiting tab.)
- Target jobs that are a good fit. Don’t just throw a resume at everything out there.
- You may need to consider jobs a level or two down from your last role. If you apply for those, explain in your cover letter that you understand the role and have thought through why and how you’ll adapt.
- Think about applying for those one year contract positions. They can be a great way to “bide your time”.
- Think outside of the box. Consider positions in other industries, non profits and the public sector. They are often great jobs that are a little undiscovered and underrated.
Consider other options…
- This might be a great time to add to your credentials. Go back to school and get that degree, post graduate certificate or masters degree. Or knock off that certification in project management, change management, communications, public consultation or other that you’ve always meant to do. (I did my Masters degree in Communications while I was gainfully unemployed in 1982/83. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.)
- Take a sabbatical and do that world travel, major volunteer commitment or big home project if you have the ability to do that. (I know, it doesn’t feel like the time to spend money, rather than make it but different people are in different places financially.)
- Change careers? Many people use this time to retrain into something completely different.
- Move to a different city or country to pursue your career.
And, always…prepare for the next time…
- Take my lessons in networking and paying it forward to heart. The number of calls I get from people who have just been laid off who have no network, no LinkedIn profile, no up-to-date resume, no affiliation with the professional associations, no meaningful volunteer work is amazing. And, if the first time someone ever hears from you is when you are looking for a job, that’s a problem!
- Instead of thinking of the old bumper sticker “Please send us another oil boom. We promise not to piss it away this time.” Think about one that says “Please send me another job. And, I promise to never be disconnected from my professional community again and to always help others in that community.”
Good luck all.