The UK suffers from a widening skills gap and yet so much of the existing talent is still available but needs persuading that getting back to work is easier than they think.
Whether the enforced break came from having children or through redundancy, the sales industry can ill afford to lose experienced sales professionals with years of expertise. Yet, going back into the job market can be a very scary experience with a lack of confidence being one of the biggest hurdles.
With a mix of personal positivity, wellbeing, CV and interview preparation, you will be set on your way back to work. While it can be daunting, the key is to regain your confidence and to do that you need the right tools and techniques, which you can apply to all situations going forward. The best way to tackle things is one bite at a time so here are the key areas that you can work on to gain confidence and walk back into the work world like a pro!
Self-esteem is important to your confidence; remember you are more than your current circumstances!
Being successful in your search for a new job requires positive self-esteem, knowing what you want to achieve and then balancing your requirements with self-marketing.
Most of us have had messages and experiences in the past that tell us that we are not good enough at certain things. So begin to redress the balance. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people and feeling less worthy or less competent! Those people may be better at a specific thing than you but not everything!
We can be unbelievably negative about ourselves – we can focus on what we can’t do and what won’t work. As the saying goes ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are probably right’!
Remember the past is for reference purposes and not a place to live. So focus on moving forward and what your future looks like.
Look after yourself and eat healthily, drink plenty of water and get exercise. These things will help keep your energy levels up and also support a healthy, positive mood.
Firstly, you need to set yourself goals and targets to keep on track. Make a note of the things that you want to achieve.
Successful people have goals. Try recording these in one place so you can refer back to them as you progress. Goals give you focus and direction. Not having goals leaves you reacting to daily circumstances and can make you feel out of control. When you have the right attitude and the right goals, you will be motivated to succeed.
Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) in order for you to be able to realise them.
Throughout changes in our lives, whether personal or in the work place, we can get locked into repetitive patterns.
In your job search you may restrict yourself based on past experiences so be mindful of your own patterns of behaviour, others may also be holding you back, so be aware of your choices and actions.
You are in control. Don’t forget, no one can affect your thoughts or feelings unless you allow them to. You always have choices – in every moment of every day. Notice your choices when they arise and do something about it.
Getting back into the job market and finding a new job is all about self-marketing; everything that you do will be part of the process. You need to focus on: l How positive you are l How you communicate l How much energy you have and put into everything l How your CV looks l How you conduct yourself in an interview l How you look!
Your ideal job
Give some thought to what you want to do. Your next job might be something completely different than what you were doing before. Think about the following things so you have clarity on where you are going to aim your search:
l What is the minimum salary that you need and what would you like to aim for?
l What key skills to you have and how would you like to apply them? If you are going to aim for a job different from ones you have had before – make a note of how your skills can be applied effectively into the new area
l What are your personal values? Make a note of them as you will be happier working in an organisation that has similar values to your own
l How far can you travel to your workplace and are you willing to work away from home for periods of time?
Make a note of your successes – this will help you at interview stage
Fewer jobs are advertised now than in previous years. Many believe it to be as low as 20% of jobs that are actually advertised. So use your existing network – your personal contacts – to see if they know of any vacancies that might be suitable for you. Don’t feel embarrassed about contacting people in this way. We can tend to feel uneasy about asking others for help. But most people who are asked enjoy feeling they have been able to help and will willingly do what they can.
The important thing to remember is you are not asking your contacts to find you a job. You are asking them for leads which you can follow up yourself.
Once you can sell yourself on paper, work on selling yourself face-to-face! Never underestimate the importance of networking and how effective it is to approach the recruitment market. Everything that you do will be part of the process such as how you communicate, how positive you are and how you conduct yourself in an interview.
Have personal business cards that you can give to people. It is important that people can get hold of you again and is much easier and more professional than writing your details out on a scrap of paper.
Cost effective business cards are available online. Remember to select the option so you do not have the printer’s website on the reverse of your cards.
If you take a business card from someone else while networking, be sure to note reminders on the back, where you met, areas of interest etc. When you have collated more than a few it can be difficult to remember who is who.
If you have promised to provide someone with information – make sure you follow it up.
l Make sure you have a voicemail message recorded so people know they have called the right number.
l Leave a professional message – not one that is ‘funny’ or recorded by your children!
l If you receive a message from someone make sure you call back promptly and professionally. Time delays in responding to calls do not set the right impression.
Ensure that you have a professional email address. Also make sure that you have an auto reply set up if you are away so people know when they will hear back from you, include your telephone number in your email signature.
Create your own, market focused CV. Within this, you need to recognise and promote your own personal unique selling points. There are many templates you can use – the key is to try to keep it to a couple of pages. Include your key achievements and make it easy to read. Those recruiting will get many CVs to read through so make yours standout with them not having to search for key information on what you have done.
How you communicate with people in all parts of your life is fundamental to the experiences you have: be polite and respectful and you get positive communications back; be negative and things can spiral into arguments.
Through your tone of voice people will decide if you are: l Professional l Helpful l Precise
l Friendly l Trustworthy
Tone is vital. It helps the other person determine the exact meaning of the message; you must, therefore, consider your use of tone very carefully.
Words are powerful but so are actions. While considering your tone of voice, also think about the part your body language plays. When we are receiving messages, we receive more than 80% of the message through sight so make sure that you look confident and stand up straight.
Practice and prepare! Find out about the organisation you are applying to, have questions ready to ask about the role and prepare by considering examples of your experience. When you have prepared you will be able to put across your previous experience in a logical and concise manner. That will come across in a professional way and set you up for success.
When getting back into the job market, you will experience a mix of emotions. Some will empower you while others will make you feel nervous. The key to gaining back your confidence is working towards your goals. Once you reach your target goals, your confidence will go through the roof.
Make sure that you keep note of all of your achievements and improvements on a regular basis and how you are going to maintain that level of positivity. Remember that you are in control of your life. Nobody can tell you that you can’t do something and if they do – prove them wrong.
About the author:
Janice Haddon has over 25 years’ experience in strategic and operational human resources and management consultancy. Working across a range of sectors and with start-ups to top 20 companies, Janice is a qualified coach and has a passion for integrating performance, personal positivity and wellbeing into the work place. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, an MA in Psychotherapy and an MBA from Henley Management College, Janice is also a Master Practitioner in NLP, a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy Counsellor.