job loss

How to get the next contract job after losing one

Company restructuring, business failures, cost cutting and performance issues are some of the reasons that result in job losses. Once you are asked to stop coming to work, you realise that you also lose your daily routine and a steady salary, making you a nervous wreck. However, instead of sorting out the issue at hand, you end up wallowing in pity, watching TV ad infinitum and sinning on sweets and ice creams like there is no tomorrow. Follow these tips and you should never become a homebody again, at least not for months at a stretch.

 

Job

SHARE YOUR SORROW

Many of us are so ashamed of the job loss, no matter the reason, that we forget to share it with people we meet. That is the biggest mistake. If you assess your previous jobs, you realize that perhaps the workplace was not really a good fit for you, or you were not given what you were capable of. And this job loss was a blessing in disguise. This should be your line of thinking as it cuts through to the core of the problem: your strengths and how the next company can benefit from your skills. Once you have this figured out, sharing your plight becomes that much easier. Instead of bitching about the sad state of affairs in your company, you could tell anyone who bothered to ask about your job status that you lost your job, and now you want to do something in a particular arena to go up the ladder. This usually gets you the assistance you really need rather than just someone sharing their handkerchiefs or paper towels at the dinner party. This sharing should happen with the other friends who have lost their jobs too. If it’s a company restructuring, usually there are many more people who lose their jobs. In such circumstances, all of you can weep on each other’s shoulders and formulate a strategy to survive this one. Care and share, as it always works.

 

DON’T SPLURGE

Saving is earning, and this becomes more pertinent when you have no monthly retainer to turn to. Cut down on eating out, entertainment, unnecessary shopping, dial down your internet and cable TV plans, and perhaps even cancel your Netflix subscription to prevent yourself from binge-watching. Instead, cook like you’ve never cooked before. Go for a walk in the neighborhood park instead of using a personal trainer and be happy with your current smartphone instead of going for the latest and greatest. In addition to substantial savings, what this actually does is inconvenience you to such an extent that it will goad you to get a job now instead of wallowing in pity and feeling hopeless.

 

UPSKILL YOURSELF

If you look at it the other way around, job losses have their merits. For one, you can take a break and have some me-time which you never did for all those years you were married to your job. Just make sure you don’t overdo your vacations or resting time. Once you’ve tuned in to reality after the much-required break, what do you do? Look around to do what you have always loved to do but couldn’t for want of time. It could be a course you needed to take to upskill yourself. This will not only get you into the groove but also put you in the learning state of mind where anything becomes possible.

 

RATIONALISE YOUR LOSS

You cannot escape from the inevitable question of why you lost your job. Here is where you need to view at the query objectively and answer it sincerely. However, try to be positive in whatever you have to say, because just passing the buck will not be appreciated by anybody. And you should never burn your bridges by antagonizing your previous company. You never know how they could help you later in life. Once you have your answer figured out, ensure that it’s a professional and not an emotional response. Your recruiter will appreciate you for your rank honesty and straight from the heart talk. If you are feeling pessimistic or queasy about this question, think about answering this question: What positive lessons have your learnt from your previous job and what can you do better in your next job. If you can answer this thoughtfully and sincerely, you might excel at your next job interview. Good luck.

Working mother

6 ways to excel as a working mother

Motherhood is the most wonderful gift that a working woman can ever wish for. However, getting back to work after maternity leave can be quite stressful. But these tips should get you to work out a plan that works just right for you.

 

Develop a relaxing routine

Twenty-four hours is not enough for minding your baby and going to work. However, some careful planning can help you get out of this squeeze. Daily baths before going to bed are perfect for a good night’s sleep and starting your next day with a flourish. Taking walks at night after your dinner are best to give you a breather from work and home. Blogging about your motherhood and work-life balance, either privately or publicly, could work wonders too. You might create a community of others who are going through the same situation. You could even join social media groups of parents and working moms to step into familiar territory to learn, imbibe and grow as a working mom.

 

Beat the morning rush

The way to do this is to plan well in advance and expect the expected. Yes, you read that right. Managing your baby’s growing years means the feeding pattern (from liquids to solids, for example) will change and thereby, the time required for it. Similarly, the throwing up while eating might decrease over time, but when the teeth begin to sprout, the vomiting will be back. Load up on wipes and diapers for every contingency. If you plan for what is to be expected, you should be able to go to sleep early, so you can wake up early. The rest of the morning routine should happen almost like clockwork: getting ready to work, having a quick breakfast, packing your office bag and stepping out to work.

 

Get to know your colleagues

Yes, you’ve known them for years now, but what you don’t know is what you missed in your 12 weeks of maternity leave. Telling them about your state of motherhood might not impress them much unless there are others who are battling the same situation. For everyone else, you could ask them what they were up to while you were gone. This will help you break the ice with them after the three-month gap but also get you up to speed with all things new at the workplace.

 

Speak to your supervisor

It’s important to understand your concerns at work and list them down before meeting your manager. Like taking leave without notice when your baby falls sick, or you taking a course to upgrade your skills. Or talking about what each of you have missed in your personal lives while you were gone, presuming that you have such a friendly rapport with your manager. Importantly, ask your superior if there is something you need to learn, inspect or watch out for to get you to do your work more efficiently.

 

Re-imagine your role at work

When you take a break from work for three months, your priorities could change. You realise you have less time for routine work and more time for specialised jobs that you are uniquely qualified for. Perhaps, you wonder if it’s time to work from home rather than go to work. Or better still, you realise that it’s best to work as a consultant for many firms rather than just one. Therefore, before you decide to rejoin your workplace, ponder over all of this and then decide to take the next step. Well thought is half done.

 

Plan with precision

It’s time to use those to-do lists on your smartphone or the post-its, if you like. Or a diary, if you still believe putting pen to paper to solidify your daily itinerary. Schedule your doctor visits (it will be monthly or even fortnightly at first and later, quarterly) in addition to picking and dropping your baby at day care, if you don’t have your mother or nanny at home. Not to mention, your breastfeeding or more specifically, your pumping sessions. You need to store your milk in a bottle to be given to the baby by the nanny at the daycare or at home if you have someone to look after your baby.

future jobs

8 future-proof contract jobs

We live in uncertain times. The speed with which information spreads is unimaginable. What takes off today arrives yesterday. What you see as trending today is stale tomorrow. And yet, there are certain jobs that have stood the test of time and will continue to do well in the future.

Product designers

The world wasn’t built in a day. It has never been built fully yet, and never will be. Things keep getting broken down to make way for something new. And here is where product designers play a huge role in shaping the future. We are talking about product designers who will make life easy for us, be it automobiles, smartphones, consumer goods and just about any material that you can buy for a fee. They can never be replaced by machines, because they lack one thing that humans have in abundance: creativity.

Sales & marketing

This is one field that knows no recession. However, just the gift of the gab won’t do. You need to know all about online sales, the newer business models, digital marketing, and mobile advertising, among others.

Data analytics

The fourth industrial revolution is all about tech and more tech. Automation will be the key driver that will throw many clerical and manual workers out of their jobs. But there is one field that will be rich with possibilities for job seekers. With so many algorithms doing the job of crunching data, there is the need for qualified personnel who can sift through the information minefield and make sense of it. According to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum, 5 million jobs will be lost to automation, but there is the positive side to it too. There will be 2 million jobs that will be created because of automation like artificial intelligence and robotics. And here is where data analysts will hog the limelight.

Management

This is yet another field that has an evergreen demand. Even the most talented people need good managers. Without them, no organisation can prosper. And this will be particularly true when organisations undergo transitions during mergers and acquisitions or adopt a major change in strategy. Some of the fields that will see the most disruption include the information, entertainment and media industries.

Reskilling specialists and HR personnel

What happens to the existing workforce in times of change? Here is where organisations will need reskilling specialists who will retrain existing employees to remain employable. Since they already know the organisation well and are a good culture fit, upgrading their skills will not only be economical for the company but also a big boon for the aging workforce.

Legal experts

So long as there are laws, there are lawyers. This is one field, just like healthcare, that knows no recession. Different countries have different rules and regulations. It will become even more important for multinationals to hire legal eagles who can help them set up, scale and establish their operations worldwide. With technology dominating the landscape, there are cries over privacy that threaten to shut down companies. In such a scenario, it’s important to have lawyers who can navigate the company through this ever-shifting legal maze created by technology.

Architects and engineers

Yes, this tribe will continue to thrive. If we are talking about building smart cities, these are the people who will design and execute those projects. Without them, nothing can move. However, more emphasis will be in the following areas: robotics, nanotechnology and biochemicals.

IT and mathematicians

Without doubt, IT rocks and will continue to rock for the next decade at least. It’s the age of IT and therefore, the role of programmers, information security architects and software developers will only rise as time goes on. These are red-hot professions, but there are many areas of specialties you can choose from. We would urge you to pick what works for your talent, temperament and need. We can only say that anything you do in the field of artificial intelligence, energy and biotech will earn you major dividends.

One last thing. Good luck!

6 ways

6 ways to speed up decisions in big offices

Innovate or die is as much a reality for startups as it is for the big daddies of business. In the age of big data, cloud computing and digital marketing, speed is the need of the hour. Blackberry and the old Nokia are the best examples of this. So how do you infuse the startup culture in big organisations? Can there be such a thing or is it just a magic word that goes around and comes around? Well, it’s not. Here are the ways you can accomplish this, provided you have the vision and appetite for innovation.

6 ways to speed up decisions

Become a co-working space

Did you know that IBM, Honeywell, Nike and Microsoft have co-working spaces within their campus? Yes, and that’s not just because it’s trendy and makes business sense but also because different people in a different setting spark off ideas and get inspired. When it’s a beehive of activity, you are more clued in to things. There are people investing in a chair and table at co-working spaces because it provides them an opportunity to network with people from other companies. It’s like having a conversation at a water cooler but with one big difference: the entire office is one conversation canopy.

No hierarchy, please

Sometimes, hierarchy used in extreme, kills innovation and transparency. And that’s what happens in big organisations. There are so many department heads and so much red tape that the voice of the person at the bottom of the ladder never gets heard. How many companies still have a line that says, “If you have a problem, write to the CEO”? Here is where big organisations need to become more open to ideas because they can come from anywhere and anyone. Feedback, both negative and positive, is critical because you create solutions around that. Champion innovation across the spectrum of your organisation. Anybody who has a better idea to doing things should be heard and it should become the manager’s mission to extract the best ideas from everyone, without fear or favor.

No partitions, please

Cubicles and just about any separation from one desk to another kills communication. When people don’t talk, ideas freeze up. People get closed up and fight their own demons without seeking assistance from another person. Here is where an open office with rows of tables and chairs and no walls to separate them will work like magic. The workplaces should be designed in such a way that everybody becomes accountable and everybody can be seen. Not only do checks and balances happen automatically but it also kindles team building and entrepreneurial thinking. And it’s not just the workplace design, it’s also about allowing the employees to choose their workplace. They can step into a huddle room and just take a quick brainstorming session or just sit in a meditation room and meditate before that dreaded boardroom meeting. All of these help them to do more.

Invest in tech

Artificial intelligence, data analytics and every other new tech is mighty helpful. Invest in it because not only does it remove routine jobs from the hands of people, like maintaining a diary of things to do, the processes to follow, but also frees up time of the very same people to do more: T. H. I. N. K.  Yes, let the machines do the math while you can focus on the data they give you about consumer habits, employee behaviors, and so on. This will save you time on deep diving into research and development because that is being handled by tech, while you can focus on the big ideas to give your company the breakthrough they are seeking.

Fund startups

An organisation can grow when it can recognize a good idea from anywhere, even if it’s just a startup. Did you know that Whatsapp just has five employees on board and look what a success story it has become, having been recently acquired by Facebook. Funding startups or mentoring entrepreneurs is one way of showing your employees that you value innovation above all.

Open an innovation garage

Yes, we are talking about starting an incubator that can be within the organisation or separate from it in a different physical building. Usually, they compete against each other for funds, but what is really required is to set up an incubator that aligns itself to the company’s larger goal, so that the two divisions don’t work at cross purposes. Once the goal is one, the method and the medium can be different and doesn’t matter. However, remember to recognize the incubator not just an experimental gig by the company to keep up its trendy avatar. The incubator should actually be as much about creating prototypes but also about marketing them with the necessary business model, operations, distribution and so on. Here is the real innovation where the process should recognize a winner when they see it. When this kind of innovation culture sets in, out of the box products will happen automatically.

inspire image

4 ways to inspire your employees

Many times, if there is always some fire-fighting or feud inside an office, it’s because of a chaotic or confused leadership. When you send out confused signals to your employees, it saps their creativity. And when you try to micro-manage everything they do, it has the same affect too. So how can be hands-off and yet be hands-on? Here are ways to inspire your workplace and keep your contract and permanent employees firing on all cylinders…

 

Inspire Employees

Many of the work force is employed by small and medium businesses. Which means, much of their employee strength is anywhere between 5 and 50. So how do you manage a tight set of employees and retain them? By inspiring them and keeping them engaged with you even outside the regular office setting. The vision and mission has to blend in to your style of working. And the more informal the setting, the better it is for your employees. Just having an informal workplace will not do. The approach should be just as informal.

 

A lot happens over java

Yes, coffee or tea, it’s the best way to start your day with your employees. Not only will they tell you what’s bothering them, you will get to know first hand, their problems and possible solutions as well. The moment you begin to empathise, your approach to your vision and mission becomes that much more humane. What you say is not as important as how you say it. Anything said over a cup of coffee will be way better than impersonal office mails. 

 

Walk around the columns

Yes, it’s not just the water-cooler conversation you should eavesdrop upon but actually get down and dirty by chatting up with people at their work desks. Or in the pantry and loo. Yes, the more informal, the better. And the chatter should not be your agenda. It can be as simple as, ‘Hey, what’s got you so excited today?’ to ‘What’s bothering you today?’ If it’s work, you can give them effective suggestions based on your extensive experience and if it’s personal, you can use your EQ to calm them down, and perhaps even solve their problem by just being a patient listener. Pray why? Because most people have answers; only nobody bothered to hear them out completely. When you do, you score brownie points. And if it’s a problem that concerns a larger team, you can call them out and have an immediate brainstorming session right in the middle of the office where you are as much a team player as the others. 

 

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Yes, that’s what the business managers will tell you and they are right. You should make the most of this principle too. Sometimes, you should go for lunches with your employees. Chat with them in their place of comfort. That’s when they will be their real selves. It’s not like you will uncover major business tricks, but it will help to make the team gel well even inside the office. As a boss, you will become that much more communicable. If you work in a big office, you are still working in a small office. There are only so many people working on your project. That’s your office staff for you. Work with them and make the most of your lunches.

 

Sharing and caring helps

Being approachable is as important as sharing what you know. It could be an anecdote or your own humble beginnings. But what it does is make you human. And that’s just what the employees need, so they don’t hesitate to talk to you when circumstances permit. You should be perceived as accessible. That itself will keep many managers on their toes. They know that if they don’t do their job well, their subordinates can walk right into the CEO’s chamber.