By now, Elon Musk’s bizarre antics on Twitter are practically a meme, though no one on the receiving end is laughing. And with news of a global recession just a few months later, millions of employees around the world are expecting to be shelled. Cue fear, insecurity and possible depression.
It has happened before. During the 2007-09 recession, Ganapathi Ramachandran, a 39-year-old advertising executive in the UAE, saw rows of abandoned luxury cars near the airport as layoffs returned to their home countries. “It was a rapid decline – we saw a 70-page newspaper edition drop to 16-18 pages overnight,” he says.
During that period, Rhys Motelkar, who had quit his job in the ITES sector, struggled to find a new one. Ami Buddhadev, a corporate lawyer caught in the pink color, had to work as an event manager for a very low salary.
All survived. Eventually, they too thrived. And they have solid, actionable advice for those hoping for the dreaded “invite to a Zoom call with HR tomorrow at 8.45am”.
Tell the story: Job loss posts on social media bring trolls, yes, but also empaths. “It can be difficult to put aside your ego and share a plea, but do it. Remember how actress Neena Gupta asked for a job in 2007? Look how far it got,” says Ramachandran.
Buddhadev believes job loss positions work best for junior positions. “Most senior-level executives ignore it,” she says.
However, Motlekar warns that this can affect your chances, especially if you post a sob story. “In the corporate world, keep things simple, subtle and professional. Post, but in a way that lets people know you’re open to work and looking for suitable options,” he explains.
Emphasize the forces: Motlekar believes in preparing for the worst. Update your resume before announcements “During the off season, there’s no reason to procrastinate. Schedule a job search,” he says.
Ramachandran recommends creating a set of resumes, tailored to available positions, and playing up important skills. “Document your work achievements every fortnight. It helps you remember the small victories,” he added.
Network work: The last thing is to blanket-bomb recruiters with questions. “Instead, connect with offline hiring groups to see how you can polish your resume with the right keywords or key skills,” says Buddhadev.
Improve those skills: Free courses on LinkedIn and learning apps add value to resumes. Buddhadeo recently took a digital marketing course because at 40, her competition is 25. “Today’s resumes are based on keywords, so your skill sets are important,” she adds.
Note the difference: A break in a career isn’t so bad if it adds value to a resume. “Don’t lie about it,” cautions Ramachandran. “Your lies can easily be detected through a simple reference check.”
Finance Management: Buddhadeva had about a year’s savings to tide him over, but this might have been insufficient for someone with more responsibilities. “Medical emergencies have to be accounted for,” says Ramachandran.
If the rainy day fund is alarmingly low, don’t hesitate to accept a lower salary, says Motlekar. “The market will pay 20 to 30 percent less, but accept the best offer available instead of relying entirely on your savings,” he says.
Counterattack: Ramachandran thinks it’s okay to start again from the bottom, but in a structured way. “Invest in your faith, stay focused on building your dream career. Take the short course you need for your next job. Write the first few pages of the book you’ve been planning. Bake the cakes and cookies you never had time for. Dreams become reality when you take the first step.” They transform,” he said.
“Besides looking for a job in the same field, focus on the skills you have parked and see if you can turn it into a side income or business,” adds Buddhadev. Also know that different sectors have different compensation structures. Buddhadev warns, “Especially in the early stages, creative fields don’t always pay well.
Don’t stress: Instead of grieving over past deeds, prepare for the next one. “Sometimes, ‘Why me?’ There is no answer to that question, so wash yourself up and get ready to run good and fast,” says Motlekar. “Most successful people have had many ups and downs in their careers.”
And eat well, advises Buddhadeva. “Nobody could solve a crisis on an empty stomach.”
From HT Brunch, March 18, 2023
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