Six Pay Days Out – What They Don’t Tell You at ‘Outplacement School’ – The Not So Nice Things

June 28, 2016

By Donie Wiley

I left the organisation I joined from school after 35 years in December 2015.  To make sure I was ready to go, I availed of all the internal and insourced support including a fairly reasonable outplacement programme (that dispelled any myths I had about fantastic 4/6 page curriculum vitaes with three page letters of application).  Here was I facing out into a pretty favourable economic cycle, with a very vibrant jobs market and a with fair degree of confidence in my ability to plough my own furrow.  What could possibly go wrong?  Lots!


Having eventually grown a pair, here was I, out on my own, all fired up, looking forward to setting up my new business, I had a great central idea, a plan to deliver on it, some spare change from my redundancy and lots of friends, contacts and supporters who would help me if I called on them.


What I had failed to grasp, and I share here now, for those following a similar journey as mine, is not to underestimate the social and professional isolation you may find at first through unavailability of your friends and contacts – a simple reason explains why they are working and doing things (the cheek of them) – usually in a formal professional context, and they often take a while to come back to you.


For me understanding and getting to accept and work with this was a breakthrough I hadn’t considered.  Put simply I had forgotten how busy I was in my previous role, as my friends are now, and how my returning of calls and mails sometimes slipped down the priority list.


Navigating this is important for your future success, so seeking different ways to engage is crucial for the friendship and the benefits it may hold including arrange/getting invited to social functions is key, making sure when you do get time to use it wisely and productively and seeing how encounters can be win/win for you and your friend or former colleagues or contact.

I also had not anticipated that quite a lot of people ignore you.  I am not talking casually where they walk past you oblivious to your existence but where you take the time to engage with them professionally and they couldn’t give a toss.  I am especially talking about employment agencies (with some notable exceptions, as I hear some of you scream), potential employers and most surprisingly charities/NGO’s you offer to volunteer for.


What amazes me is that that you spend so much time filling in forms (government and public sector employers are the worst), many of them online, as well as updating CV’s and letters of application and nobody comes back to you.  You go through the whole phase of checking to see did you somehow erase the content of your documents, you check a number of times did you your mail send, you check the post each morning even 2/3 months after an application and you hear nothing – you make calls to your recruitment agency and don’t get a response – the application has somehow gone to the ‘other side’ and it won’t be actioned even to give you a PFO.


I wonder how many recruitment people have ever applied for a job and not heard back, did that rankle with them, maybe not or is this their way of wielding power and getting their own back.  Let me put this simply – you need to show respect that somebody has taken the time to apply for a job even if they haven’t a hope of getting it – you are doing enormous damage to your brand and that of your client (where that is known) if you don’t.  I for one won’t be back so easily.  More than that I will be a lot more selective in jobs I go for which ultimately means recruiters are reducing their potential pool of suitable candidates.


What I found hardest, and it again it caught me off card, was my reluctance to look for help, support and coalition around my ideas and my need to have a reasonably reliable income through working my network.  I have been fortunate to work with and for great people over many years, most of whom I would call friends, would have kept in reasonable touch with many and yet in my time of needing a favour I just couldn’t bring myself to reach out.  I am still struggling with this for a couple of reasons – does it mean you somehow have failed if you do! – I don’t want to burden them with having ‘to do me a favour’ – and, most of all because to do so copper fastens my status ‘lone gun without a portfolio’.


Overall, I think the enemy and the friend is time – you have a lot of it, you need to use it productively and to best effect.  While you need it to grow and scale a new business such as mine, you will also have to robustly break it down and take advantage of it to seek different opportunities while that you await that day of self-sufficiency.

Donie Wiley is Founder and MD of In Pursuit if Potential ( an advisory company focused on individual and team development through a journey of authentic leadership.  

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