DOWN, hopefully not OUT

This is the third attempt at writing this post. Not because of sheer laziness or lack of something to say. Just that the mere subject touched a raw nerve. I had titled it Layoffs and scrapped it again.

I meant to write a post on Dealing With Getting Laid Off, but heh, how do I write without sounding preachy and shouting from the rooftop. So out it all went.

CONTEXT first: My placid morning got stirred when a friend skyped asking for openings and vacancies. Further prodding and sheer nosiness got this out- laid off for not meeting targets; EMIs rolling out and house expenses to be met. Can I help?

Racked my befuddled head (coz this friend was comfortably well off but a month back secure in the everyday job and the 10-11 existence and now!!!) and scoured my contact list-passed on a few numbers and got back to what I was doing..snoozing. I couldn’t though.

WHAT NEXT: Thanked God and the bosses-that-be it wasn’t me? Prepared a Oscar-winning speech for why not me and then came the memories of a nightmarish quality.

Circa 2000: Heated words and the “you can shove your job you know where” and the heroic walk-out. Come morning and I woke up with a flush. I had no job and a blissfully unaware family, mom and dog waving me out the office and a brother asking me to stay safe. So there I was, out the gate with a hundred in the pocket, no cubicle to go to and NO boss to report to.

Old habits die hard indeed as I took a familiar route and landed on the bus terminal close to work. Free ad in hand I walked to a park close to what was my office till that morning. Within no time circles adorned the paper and frantic calls to jobs I had no idea about. Anything to have an appt letter in hand and next pay cheque in bank. This routine continued the next 13 days along with walk-ins to organizations that friends suggested. I did what a sales guy called cold calling, and the product I was doing a hard sell on was ME.

My nourishment these 13 days was hope, a bottle of water that I got from home, bananas and buns. Suffice to say, I stayed healthy physically and started breaking out mentally. No calls from companies desperate to hire me and the only calls I got was from banks soliciting a client, if they only knew it was a jobless penniless client they were soliciting!!

Two weeks on and nearing to the EOM I got a call at my neighbourhood kirana shop. Why you ask? No landline at home and mine was a prepaid connection with the balance hovering close to the last rupee. Running out I answer with a breathless voice. Hello said the voice on the end of the line. “Can you come in today and write a test. We shall discuss the details once you are done.” What do you think?

Of course, I ran and reached the organization in as quick a time as the BMTC would take me. My hands were quivering as I took pen in hand to write the test (Eh youngsters we did not have a notebook (read Lenovo) to take our tests on, it was still paper and pen!!) and my head abuzz with Will they, Won’t They as I tried making sense of the paper.

Two hours later I submitted the completed paper and waited to hear the result. 30 minutes which seemed 30 years and more and I could already feel my hair turning grey and my knees clatter.

Yes I snagged the job and the rest of the story isn’t worth a telling. But lessons learnt:

  • Words once spoken can never be taken back
  • Do not jump out till you got a ship/boat under you coz the waters may drown you if you aren’t equipped to swim= if you don’t have savings/rich family background Stay put till you get a better job
  • If something doesn’t go well, work harder. Perhaps you aren’t doing something right. Introspect before you start pointing at someone or something
  • Choose wisely before you take up an offer. Remember after that the choice is not yours
  • Always, always save.. a rupee, a hundred, a thousand. Doesn’t matter how much, but SAVE.  You never know when it rains or there’s a flood. Always be prepared
  • Constantly upgrade your skillsets
  • See your saleability in the market
  • Enhance your knowledge base
  • Be better than what you are
  • Do not get emotional about the organization or the people you work with. Make friends but remember being true to your job and good at your job matters more.
  • Build relationships that go beyond the workplace
  • Weigh loyalty: Check if the organization values loyalty, see how they treat people across board – from the office boy to the MD

The Chase is On

Now that the market is looking up people will no longer be willing to settle for less..less appreciation, less pay, less work, less responsibility, less respect, less humanity.

The Chase is On.

Consultants are starting to flood mail boxes with job openings, while people are more ardently fishing Naukri, Monster, TimesJobs, JobStreet, Recruit or any of the job portals for a Better tomorrow.

It’s a different issue that the tomorrow may not be as anticipated but at least there are options now, unlike last year, when the recession was a much-bandied word.

Before you start hitting the send button, here are a few things you need to PONDER.

  1. Is this the JOB you are looking for to get you a step further in whatever profession you have chosen?
  2. Are you choosing this JOB because it is giving you – Better Prospects (read a well-defined career path and responsibilities),  Better Pay (and not a marginal hike of a few thousands) and Better HR & Management (takes care of employees, has good work ethics and conducive work hours)
  3. Are you JUST desperate to get out of the current workplace?
  4. Are you getting out just because you are bored, unable to get on with your colleagues or supervisors, unable to conform to company policies, unable to see yourself as a good fit to the Organisation?

These are just a few of the Questions it would be wise to ASK yourself, and be HONEST about the answers.

Remember, even though job hopping is accepted and not frowned on, HR is always wary and skeptical about someone who is UNABLE to honestly reason out the decision to move on and Move IN.

The second most important thing, Now that you have decided to Move on. Read the job description of the New role you are applying for.

Again, and Always, be HONEST

  1. Ask yourself if you have the right skill-sets to take on the responsibilities accompanying the job. DO NOT OVERESTIMATE your capabilities and OVERSELL your talents.
  2. Ask yourself if the JD is what you see yourself performing at and excelling
  3. Ask yourself what is the MORE that you can bring to the Table
  4. Do some soul-searching, but more importantly, Research the Company. With 24/7 social networking available at your fingertips it has never been this easy to find out second-hand what the company has to offer – be it growth, promotion, work environment, management, etc.
  5. Find out what the Difficulty levels are – could it get monotonous, could it get too stressful, would it allow you to have a decent work-life balance
  6. Is this what you want to do
  7. Will it get you out of bed in the morning without a sense of dread or heaviness in having to work

Third, now that you have figured out The JOB is RIGHT for you. Draft your CV, and always send it along with a decent covering letter that goes beyond a “Hi, PFA my CV for your perusal (WHICH again is OLD WORLD). Thanking You. Yours etc.”

Your CV needs to be:

  1. Tailored in accordance with the opening you are applying for
  2. Good rule of Thumb, cover the basics – your strengths, which can be explained in a crisp sentence or two; professional brief; educational brief and samples of your work or project. Keep your personal particulars to a minimum. Your hobbies like moonwalking and loving dogs is of no interest to the corporate powers-that-be unless of course, you are applying to be a Choreographer or a Vet, in which case these are the prime attributes and not personal interests 😉
  3. Read the JD carefully while drafting your covering letter. More often than not your JD itself will have all the “punch” words or IMPACT words that can spice up your CV and show the recruiter you understand their requirements. But AGAIN, do NOT overdo this.
  4. Unless a name is mentioned, in which case it is OK to start with a Hi Ms.XX better to stick to the old-fashioned Dear Sir/Madam. Remember, you can never be pulled up for being courteous.

Now that you are ready, keep your fingers crossed and your mobile phone charged for that Tring-tring or whatever ringtone you have set FOR the RECRUITER TO CALL YOU.