Made redundant? What to do next…

Now that stores, pubs and restaurants are open again, life does start to resemble a familiar shape, albeit that most of us are still working from home for at least part of the week.

However, it also means that businesses now have to deal with the reality of the aftermath of the lockdown. Those businesses in financially precarious positions in the beginning of this year mostly find themselves in a situation now, where survival is the order of the day. Resulting in deep cost cutting and redundancies galore.

On 01 July alone, thousands of people were made redundant in the retail and leisure sectors and my guess is that we’ll see more of it over the summer.

So, if you have been made redundant, what do you do?

No matter how hard it this is, you must not take this personally. Your position was made redundant, not you. That said, don’t start hitting the phones and scramble around for a new job straightaway. Give yourself some time to mourn the loss, compose yourself and draw up a battle plan.

Make sure to have a short, medium and long term outlook.

Short term

  • What is my cash position, to how many months without an income can I stretch?
  • What monthly costs can I reduce or cut?
  • Do I qualify for any government support, mortgage holiday, tax relief or such like?
  • Is there any part time job I can do that brings in some cash, without the time spent there impeding on my job search?

Medium term

  • Do I have any skills that are in high demand? If so, which (type of) companies will be interested in them?
  • Make a list of all the people you have worked with in the past, re-connect, explain what type of role you are in the market for and ask who they can introduce you to. All this of course in a socially acceptable manner – a bit of small talk and a (virtual) coffee…
  • Speak to all the recruiters you know and to those whom your contacts have highly recommended.
  • Be absolutely clear about the role you’re after, give no more than two specific descriptions to anyone you network with. If you just want ‘something in marketing’ then the likelihood of someone remembering that is far less than when you have told them, that with your background in optimising CRM programmes, you are aiming for a Head of CRM role.
  • Are your skills and experience suitable for interim work or short term contracts?

Long term

  • It is a good idea to have a plan B, in case you’re without work for longer than you had anticipated. Is switching sectors a possibility? Are your skills transferable to a more buoyant sector? The only thing to consider here though, is that I have observed over the years that for some reason it is difficult to return to the sector you came from if things don’t quite turn out as expected.
  • Can you re-train and have a second (or third) career in a completely different line of work?
  • Should you be more flexible on your salary expectation? A note of caution here! Even if you’re prepared to drop by more than 20%, companies tend not to see that as an attraction but a threat. As in, if a better paid position comes along you’ll be off again.

Finding yourself a job whilst unemployed in a downturn can be a horrible experience and to hear that you’re not alone in this, may not be particularly comforting. However, stay focused, try to stay positive and optimistic, and remember, very few people remain unemployed for the rest of their life. This time will pass.

Let me know if I can help.

Maarten Jonckers

Want to get another job in a couple of years? Act now!

When asked how 2019 was for me, it’s easy to say ‘fine’. Gloss over and move on. However now we’re a month and a bit into 2020, looking back, I actually think that last year wasn’t so fine after all.

From a recruitment perspective, August to November was the quietest period in terms of new business I have experienced in 23 years. I felt there was a general apathy, sitting on hands and widespread inaction. Rabbit in headlight stuff. Brexit uncertainty, low consumer confidence and a general election to worry about. Pretty frustrating. And then, on the 12th of December (general election day), business started to pick up. As if all our problems had been solved. A very weird experience indeed.

From a human interest perspective, I have never met so many senior retail professionals looking for another job as I did throughout 2019. The vast majority of these individuals were at varying levels of desperation, although some were actually still in a job. And, looking back, I am surprised how few were organised and had a clear plan to find employment. Depressing.

Map it out

So, that brings me nicely to all those of you who are in jobs and careers right now, who are not just floating along but have a clear plan for your career. It is a good idea to have your career mapped out and know at any given time what your next move might look like. That way, any decision you make can, and should be, aligned to your short and medium career objective.

However, other than aiming to outperform your peers and standing out for the outstanding contribution you make to your company, what else can you do? Great performance should get you noticed within your business, but it is likely that your next opportunity will come externally. So how do you let everyone else know that you’re a high performer, great team player and generally a good egg?

And here comes the dreaded n-word. Whether you like it or not, those with good networking skills and as a result, those with a good network, climb the slippery pole quicker than those who wait to be noticed. And agility has nothing to do with it.

Act now

If you hope to make the next step up in a couple of years, start networking now. Stay in touch with all the people you used to work with, see who they can introduce you to (and reciprocate, of course) and make sure that you are remembered for all the right things, update them on career progress and successes and once you’re ready, let them know you are open to opportunities.

Get noticed

What else? Even though LinkedIn has become a proliferation of un-useful information, it is still the number one professional network in your sector, so make sure you are a regular contributor, be that with original articles and posts, re-posting articles you have found useful or of interest, or commenting on content that is applicable to your sector. Join a handful of LinkedIn industry groups and do the same – you have a higher chance of being noticed by relevant decision makers here.

Also, all industry sectors have their own weekly publication, be that Retail Week, Drapers Record or the like. Most post their articles digitally.To get noticed, comment on them – with a bit of luck your comment will be included in the printed version.

Finally, if you can, volunteer to be a speaker at industry events. Tell the audience to leave you their business card, so that you can email your presentation to them – hey presto, a whole new addition to your network.

Reap the rewards

Of course, all of this takes time and discipline. That said, there are a number of individuals I know in the retail industry, who are known to be great networkers and have never had to worry whether they may receive approaches for new job opportunities.

Morale of the story? Dedicate a set number of hours each month to develop your network, make it part of your routine. The long term benefits are untold.

Let me know if I can help.

Maarten Jonckers

New year … is it time for a new job?

Over the festive season, many people reflect on what they have done in the last year. With a new year looming thoughts turn to what they would like to achieve in the next 12 months. Is now a good time to change job? Continue reading “New year … is it time for a new job?”

You did not get the job

So after two or so conversations and an interview with the headhunter, two face to face meetings with their client and an online psychometric test (which you think you absolutely nailed), you receive the call to say that you did not get the job. That hurt. Rejection is not something anyone enjoys, so maybe just stay in your current job, tear up your CV and consider yourself done until retirement.

No, no, wait! This is one of those scenarios where persistence pays off. Take a breather, walk around the block a few times and let that rejection wash off you, and start again.

This job clearly wasn’t for you, so how can we turn this negative into a positive?

Did I say something wrong?

Unfortunately, you don’t often see companies or hiring authorities write a nice email to let you down gently. More often you find there is a wall of silence, never to be heard from again.

However, as you have met with the company at least once or twice, you should consider phoning or emailing the interviewer. You can thank them for the opportunity and, as part of your learning experience, ask them politely why you weren’t chosen.

If they are prepared to impart this information and you are prepared to listen for a few minutes and ask some pertinent questions, then you could receive some real gems in constructive criticism, well beyond ‘just not being a suitable candidate’.

Ideally you’ll learn about how you did, including whether you were lacking certain experience or needed a particular qualification (in which case the headhunter should have checked whether this was a deal breaker before putting you forward). Had you not done enough home work in preparation? Did you not ask the right questions? Or did they decide to promote internally or hire someone with 10 years more experience than you?

Which part of your performance can you improve?

If nothing else, consider your time meeting and interviewing with the headhunter and their client as a learning experience and, hopefully, as an opportunity to expand your network. However, what can you do to prepare better next time? Find out:

  • Were there any sticking points? How can they be avoided or how would you prepare differently for them?
  • If you were missing qualifications, evaluate whether it is worth gaining these.
  • Was the client expecting you to have skills or experience that you couldn’t claim you had?

Upskill for the next round

If some gaps have emerged in your skill set, experience or in how you answer certain interview questions, then now is the time to find a way to overcome these next time. Can you:

  • Do a course?
  • Volunteer for extra responsibilities or project work that will help you in your development?
  • Get a mentor in your current business?

Keep that door open!

So you did not get the job this time … however the company may well get other vacancies you qualify for in the future. Therefore, if you have been turned down, stay polite and friendly and see it as an opportunity to widen your network. What reasons can you find to stay in touch with the decision maker? Make sure they know you are interested in other vacancies as they materialise, send them an email thanking them for the opportunity and stay connected!


With the emergence of the digital world, it is easier now more than ever before to stay in touch with your network by creating a digital presence and personal brand. Contribute, publish articles and comment. Make sure you are there to get noticed.

Good luck!


Get yourself the right salary

A good headhunter will have done their research and will usually get you a realistic remuneration package. But if you’re not working with a headhunter, you will need to negotiate for yourself.

So how do you negotiate the right deal for you?

Work satisfaction will hopefully come from doing a job you enjoy, but being paid what you’re worth is crucial to feeling valued and having a sense of satisfaction at the end of a long week.

It can be awkward to bring up the subject of money, but it’s essential to get this right from the off. Once you’re in the role, it’s too late to negotiate.

So how do you ensure you really are getting what you deserve?

  • Be prepared to explain your reasoning with evidence-based research.
  • Are you upscaling your role, or is it on a similar level? Compare your expected salary, bonuses and benefits to the position you’re aiming for.
  • Ask some carefully chosen contacts in your industry what they would expect to get, in both terms of salary and other benefits.
  • Find out industry trends including salaries of similar positions and experience levels – a quick look on job boards or LinkedIn will provide some guidance.
  • If you’re moving to a different area, the pay package could vary depending on location.

Allow for flexibility

If you are asked to state what you’re looking for, give a ‘between x and y’ number so that you can negotiate. You can explain that this is the range you have come across for similar roles whilst doing your research.

Pitch it right

Don’t scupper your chances by asking for an unrealistically high salary unless you are prepared to take a risk that you may put yourself out of range.

Conversely, if you ask for too little, you could be underselling yourself and may never recover from that, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Even if it’s your dream job, think beyond the initial excitement and imagine how you’ll feel on that salary in a year or two’s time.

Your previous research will indicate what a reasonable amount for the position and your experience could be.

Exceptions to the rule

If you’re moving from a city location with high expenses to a rural area with an easy commute (or flexibility to work from home) accepting less money could be an option. Or perhaps you’re changing industries and lack experience. Be clear about the reasons before you decide.

Don’t jump in too soon

Wait until you have a formal job offer before you start negotiating – you’re in a much stronger position when you know they want you, and you don’t need to start haggling in the early stages. It could even be off-putting to some.

Any other benefits?

Salary packages could include much more than just a monthly pay packet. Remember to factor in other benefits:

Gym membership, private health insurance, company car, car parking, travel benefits, annual bonus, extra holiday days, fewer travelling expenses. Add up all these extra costs that you may not need to pay out of your own pocket in the future.

Will you get better progression and promotion prospects with this new role? The opportunities presented to you to progress could have value.

Be confident

Be confident and maintain eye contact if you’re asked to state an expected salary. There will be time for negotiation if and when you are offered the role, so simply state your expectations and wait it out. If you’ve done your research, you should be able to do this with a degree of certainty.

Future proof your career

If the saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ applies to you then you either have to change your ways or be prepared to get stuck in the job you currently have. In today’s age, everyone is expected to learn new tricks all the time in an ever-evolving workplace, and not doing so can impact on your career in ways you really don’t want it to.

Here are some thoughts on how to stay on top of all you need to do, know and learn to future proof your career.

Be that person who says yes
Consider saying “yes” at work as a way of upskilling, widening your knowledge and getting paid while you’re doing it. As an added bonus, you might just impress the boss, and others, enough to further yourself in the industry.

What sort of things should you say yes to?
• Joining a new project.
• Taking on extra responsibility, even if it’s temporary.
• Any form of professional development, training or upskilling. The more you learn now, the wider your skillset will be, and the more employable you become.
Be careful though that you don’t burn yourself out, make sure to prioritise your tasks and be honest with yourself, and your boss, if your plate is overloaded.

Don’t be pigeonholed
One of the biggest dangers for those who want to grow in their career is to pigeonhole yourself with skills so specific they become non-transferable or, worse, you simply get left behind. Avoid this by diversifying.

• Be open to learn new skills, particularly when it comes to learning new software and technology, which tends to rapidly change and evolve. Remember, everything is new until you learn it – from there on it’s another tool to add to your arsenal.
• Keep up to date with the latest news and developments in your field, so you know where areas of upskilling or improvements should be in the future.
• Ask for professional development opportunities.
• Use social media and other online tools to hunt for clues about what could be changing in your industry and seek out links to useful resources to change with it.
• Attend conferences, particular those which concentrate on technical developments.

Stay fresh, stay relevant
In a fast-paced, ever changing world, keeping up with the skills you require for the job can be a job in itself. But, in the interest of future-proofing your career, it’s a task you have to consider as an investment.

• Set aside time regularly to assess what new skills are required – or will soon be needed – in your industry. That could mean researching jobs similar to your own, identifying new software and technology developments or even reading job ads to find out what skills are needed in other companies.
• Is there anything you can do at home to upskill to make sure you stay relevant in your industry? Consider online training or other education options.
• Shadow someone in a senior or different position to you to build on your current skills, and make yourself more employable by increasing your knowledge.

When opportunity strikes, be ready
Ensure your CV and professional online profile is relevant, up to date and out there to be seen – after all, you never know who could be looking.

• Seek out connections and maintain them, most will find job opportunities through their network. A personal endorsement, a hint about upcoming opportunities or the latest word on new developments could make all the difference in your future career path.
• Maintain your relationships with recommended recruitment specialists, you really want to be front of mind when they come across opportunities.

How to ask for a promotion

Looking for a promotion? How to ask for it

To ask for a promotion is a big deal, but when the time is right (that’s the first tip), you need to put yourself forward. If you consider the alternative of staying exactly where you are until your expiry date, then that’s not much of a long term career plan …!

Here’s some ways of approaching, and preparing yourself for, this slightly daunting exercise.

Time it right and be tactful

Clearly, barging into your boss’s office at 9am on a Monday morning while they’re on an important conference call, and on a tight deadline, is not exactly being tactful. It is imperative that you time it right and ensure you’re fully prepared. So where to start?

  • Suggest a meeting time with your boss at a time that you know suits them. Often, an annual review is the best time for promotion talk, however when you know someone is leaving or there are organisational changes afoot, then you need pounce earlier!
  • Prepare for the meeting with a clear plan, commit it to paper and use it as the agenda for the meeting. What is the result you want? Are you looking for more money or is this promotion about valuable and strategic experience?
  • In your plan, include what other options you may be willing to consider, such as a small pay rise and a clearer career path to where you want to be.
  • Remind yourself of your career goals so you can explain these in the meeting.
  • Be prepared for an answer that you don’t like, and think about how you might respond to this.

Have all your ducks in a row

Come to the meeting with solid research to back up your request. This is not a fishing trip and a case of throwing a line out in the direction of your boss and seeing what you can reel in in terms of your next career move.

  • You must have evidence that shows how worthwhile you are to your employer. What are your achievements, what is your performance on projects, what responsibilities and skills do you have? You must have numbers to back it up, so bring those too.
  • Research what on average your potential future role would pay.
  • Take into account your skills, experience, location and sector when researching market rates, and set a minimum benchmark for what you’d accept.
  • Form a list of the companies’ goals and objectives, and consider how you would help achieve those goals should you get a promotion.

Make sure you’re noticed

To be considered for a promotion, you need to have impressed your boss or other decision makers within the business.

  • Put up your hand for extra responsibilities.
  • Ask for, and take up, professional development opportunities.
  • Do plenty of internal and external networking, so you know what’s happening in your sector. Include online networking such as forums, discussion boards and seminars, gathering valuable inside industry information.

A good way to structure the conversation itself is to ‘sandwich’ the request:

First convey how you are enjoying the business and how you have contributed to the success. Secondly share your career ambitions and plans, dovetailing that into the opportunity you see for promotion. Finally, explain how your promotion would be advantageous to the business (as in, seeing people promoted within the business rather than external recruitment is motivational to others, as a newly promoted person you’re bound to have that extra motivation to do the job well, and your boss is going to look good by having developed an internal talent).

Let me know if you need help, good luck!

Maarten Jonckers

Climbing the slippery pole – keep your career moving forward

If you want your career to progress then you have to be prepared to push it along! Embrace your current role and get all the experience, skills and knowledge it can offer you. However be mindful that your next step (and the one after) should be pointing you directly towards your career objective.

So, how do you ensure your career development stays on track and keeps up momentum, whilst doing a great job in your current position?

Continue reading “Climbing the slippery pole – keep your career moving forward”

When is it time to move on from your job?

After a few years in the same job, one day you may find that your enthusiasm, high work standards and general attitude have been gradually deteriorating.

This may have come about following changes in the workplace that you don’t agree with – maybe your skills have outgrown the role, or you’re no longer being challenged and the enjoyment is waning.

It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and identify if this is just a temporary rut or a permanent hole. But how do you know that it really is time to move on? Continue reading “When is it time to move on from your job?”

How to ask for a pay rise – and other tough questions

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Often getting what you want in life can be be simply down to just asking for it. But when it comes to your career, it isn’t always that easy. A pay increase, a promotion, extended leave, flexible working hours – these are all things we may want from our job, but are afraid or reluctant to ask for. Continue reading “How to ask for a pay rise – and other tough questions”