Changing job after redundancy, like moving house, is one of those major moments in life when everything is thrown up in the air. Putting the pieces back together takes some doing.  It would be easier with a guardian angel sitting on your shoulder, advising you what to do. Angels being hard to find this time of year, we’ve got the next best thing – expert advice from a recruitment insider. After recruitment manager Greg Mackinder took voluntary redundancy in March, he followed a few simple rules and landed a new position in September. Here’s how he did it.  

Greg Mackinder has worked in recruitment for about 17 years. He started out at a large FTSE recruiter in London, leading teams and managing temporary contracts. From there he moved into construction recruitment, and changed role again when construction was badly hit during the last recession. After a stint in public-sector recruitment, Greg joined a new employer where he managed four separate teams, operating mainly in the events sector. When much of the events industry ground to a halt in March, Greg says that “for the first time in near a decade, I found myself thinking right I’m going to have to look at something different.”

Greg says he “went through the first lockdown being out of work.” He had money to support himself and his family, but for the first time found himself on the other side of the fence. Normally he would be working with prospective candidates. Now he found himself doing his own job search, trying to secure interviews. “I found myself putting into practice much of the advice I’d been giving people over the years. For the first time in a long time, I found myself being a candidate.” 

Job search “almost a job in itself”

As a successful recruitment manager, Greg had become used to receiving calls from time to time, inviting him to jump ship and join other firms. “To be looking for work suddenly and not getting those calls and having to be proactive was a real eye-opener for me”, he says. Not knowing how long lockdown would last or what direction the job market would take, he quickly put a plan together. “It’s a tough market yes but I needed to be having conversations with people, I needed to be putting myself out there, discovering what opportunities there might be.”

Searching for a new job can be difficult at the best of times. When many others are searching too, and competition is tough, it’s easy to become despondent. Greg sidestepped this by regarding the search not as a personal difficulty but as a professional project to be completed, “treat the process almost as a job in itself”, he suggests.

At the same time, Greg was also looking after the home-schooling of his three young daughters.

He had to carefully manage time so that he could look after the children while simultaneously managing the search, nudging things along, chasing contacts, finding opportunities. In the past, he’s come across people who’ve neglected the importance of staying proactive, “I think it’s easy for people to feel like they’re owed something and that job opportunities should just present themselves. But in a market like we had over the summer, being proactive and setting aside time for the job search are really important.”

Pushing your personal brand

Being proactive is a good place to start, but what does this mean in practice? Greg was daily looking at LinkedIn and at the job boards to see what might have come up over the last 24 hours. Common-sense stuff, but as an industry insider Greg also knew the importance of pushing his personal brand, which he “found to be hugely beneficial”. He did this by creating content, making short videos offering tips and advice. They included updates on his search and thoughts on what he was finding successful, and spiced with a little humour, he posted them on LinkedIn.

These videos helped get Greg noticed, ensuring his social media network knew he was looking for his next role. This process initiated valuable conversations which directly led to interviews. In the end however, it was a traditional application for a post he found on a job board that eventually led to success. In early September, Greg secured a job as a team manager with Mason Frank.

So, what insider secrets can Greg share about the process he went through this year? “The world of recruitment has changed dramatically, since March to where we are now”, he says. “I’ve been speaking to people who aren’t in recruitment but who’ve been looking for roles. They’ve been saying ‘no-one’s getting back to me, I’ve met with the recruiter, but they don’t have any jobs for me’. But on the other side you have a recruiter who might be getting inundated with a huge number of applications for only one or two jobs they have available.”

Keeping a positive mindset

Despite inevitable setbacks, Greg says it is important to continue to contact recruiters directly and simply have a conversation with them. A recruiter might not be able to help with the job you had in mind but there is always a chance they might put you forward for something else. “By speaking to a candidate, a recruiter can find out something that doesn’t appear on a CV, perhaps about past experience.”

Greg says that being flexible is key, something that some candidates find hard – particularly people who’ve been in senior positions. “There’s a bit of an ego thing. If you’re used to just getting better and better jobs, to suddenly find yourself in the job market can be tough. It can feel a bit demoralising to have to phone a recruiter”, he accepts. But Greg stresses the importance of sustaining a positive mindset, which for some people might mean getting past a “bruised and battered ego”. It can be helpful to set a specific time each day to focus on proactively managing your job-search, however you might be feeling.

Ultimately, Greg believes it is essential to remain proactive. At the time, he knew many of the interviews he was having wouldn’t necessarily go anywhere, recruiters were scaling back as a result of the pandemic. Nevertheless he believed in the need to keep going, to talk to people, to remain proactive. Recruiters want to put positive candidates in front of clients, “it’s important to be positive when you’re speaking to a recruiter”, he says, important to show them that you should be one of their favoured candidates. “You need to be able to demonstrate you can come in and hit the ground running for a client”. Change is never easy. But Greg is keen to emphasise that if you can accept it, manage it and make the best of it, you’re half-way there.

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