Last month I brought up the dreaded spectre of redundancy. Since there have rumours surrounding a number of groups, Pendragon has come out and told us about 500 job cuts, and a number of others are said to be considering cut backs.
So the R word is back in the vocabulary and I discussed the shock last month that such situations cause, and the need to come to terms with it, before moving on. The preparation of a professional CV is essential and so are the actions I lay out below.
First of all the biggest mistake I see many really gifted candidates make is being too selective early on. For some this is pride, for some it is over confidence, and for some it is arrogance.
Whatever the reasons, being out of work can be costly, and your return to work depends on how many people you speak to, how many opportunities you consider. To get back to work you have to spend whatever you can, but for most people I recommend it is time you spend, not money.
Spread your search as widely as possible, because only in that way will you give yourself the choice necessary, or will you be able to measure each job against others you have seen. Believe me, at the start of many recruitment processes you never know where it will lead, the right conversation can take you to another opportunity elsewhere in the organisation, or even in a different company.
To do this you cannot be over selective, but you cannot waste time on lost causes. A test I suggest is "if I was still looking in three months time, would this job interest me?" If the answer is yes, then you must follow it up; that may just be the situation and you will regret not following it now. If the answer is no, then leave it alone, your energy can best be employed somewhere else.
As a general principle, do not be over ambitious on salary. Work out how much you need to earn rather than what you want to earn. You may well end up at the latter figure but using the former will open up more possibilities.
The level of responsibility you should seek is often difficult to advise upon. It will depend on how financially pressed you are, but I normally advise candidates to initially concentrate on positions at the same level as they are used to. When money begins to run out then obviously priorities switch from building a career to paying the bills in the short term.
It is important to decide in advance at what stage this will be, otherwise panic tends to set in. In this trade there is nearly always something that you can do, be it trading cars, working part time on the tools, helping companies out with their stock checks or temporary accounting.
Finally, one area I have not mentioned is agencies. Because of the volume of applications we receive we cannot help everyone, but what we do have is experience of the market. In approaching an agency what you ought to be seeking is an honest assessment of your experience and your chances of finding the right position through them. We each have many of the same clients but also a number of areas of specialisation.
Agencies are a useful extra tool in your search, but they are not the only answer. We have helped many people over the past year and will continue to do so. I would feel uncomfortable if, however, every one of the candidates we had registered relied solely upon us.
Finding your way back into employment is not easy. Market yourself sensibly and carefully, however, and you are likely to be rewarded. Above all, do not be unrealistic in your expectations, and if you realise that the hardest you will have ever worked in your life will be in finding your next job, then you will not be starting from a bad base.
First appeared in Motor Trader July 2008