A Six-Step Guide to Processing a Layoff | Calgary, Alberta

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March 2019 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • A Six-Step Guide to Processing a Layoff
  • Think You've Got No Skills? Think Again!
  • How to Identify Your Transferable Skills to Create Impact
  • I'm Over 50 and I Need a Job!
  • Quick Reference: Packaging Your Skills to Sell Yourself
  • Quick Reference: Where Can I Find Resources to Help?
  • Quick Reference: Polish Your Social Media Presence
  • A Snapshot of Resume Types
  • Quick Reference: The Advantages of a Functional Resume
  • Anatomy of the Functional Resume Template
  • Creating a Resume
  • Coach's Corner: Explore Your Talents
March 2019
Volume 6, Number 3

Thanks for Joining Us!

March is here and dare we hope spring is on its way? March can be a fickle month, however, with highs and lows coming in a matter of hours. Changing weather requires us all to adjust - and then readjust again. 

This month we are exploring adjustment - and readjustment - in detail.  Employment news continues to be difficult for our province: In February 2019 Alberta's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.3%, up from the 6.6% rate that was registered a year earlier and up from January's 6.8% rate. The national unemployment rate was 5.8% in February, matching February 2018's rate.

Calgary once again has the highest unemployment rate out of 33 metropolitan areas monitored monthly by Statistics Canada. The city's rate climbed to 7.6 per cent in February, up 0.3 percentage points from the month before, according to new employment numbers released Friday, March 8. Edmonton was the third-highest rate among Canadian cities, at seven per cent.*

This means that, unfortunately, many people are still dealing with unemployment and layoffs. This month we explore how to identify your abilities, repackage your skills and get creative in selling yourself to new employers.

Keep reading for more learning!

Source: Statistics Canada

A Six-Step Guide to Processing a Layoff

If you’ve been laid off — and it can happen to the best of us — it’s important to remember that you are not alone and this does not have to be the worst thing to happen to you. If you’re struggling to figure out what to do next, consider the following tips:

Breathe. Even if your company provides a decent severance package that gives you some time to find another job, being asked to leave is a kick in the gut. Shock. Anger. Hurt. Betrayal. Relief. It’s natural to feel all of these and more after being laid off. No matter your situation, you should give yourself the time and permission to really connect with your feelings about being laid off. 

Choose your inner dialogue wisely. Being told you no longer have a job can trigger an avalanche of stress and anxiety. When you choose a positive inner dialogue it tells your brain that things are going to be okay. In turn, your brain prioritizes thoughts that favour resourcefulness, creativity, and identifying opportunities. In contrast, negative self-talk causes your brain to send the message that danger is around every corner and you need to focus on protection, which can impair your creative problem solving and potentially cause you to shut down.

Prioritize self-care. When faced with an unexpected and unwanted outcome, especially one that impacts our means for survival, many of us default to a state of hypervigilance. One consequence can be the feeling that we have to save every penny until we find another job. Taking a daily shower, getting enough sleep, and going for a walk near nature are all simple and virtually no-cost activities that will help you remain physically and emotionally strong while you tackle the uncertainty of your new reality.

Be open to the positive possibilities. Your survival instincts will be pretty good at identifying all the possible negative outcomes of losing your job. So you may need to be intentional about directing your brain toward the positive possibilities. You may soon find yourself in another job that better suits your talents and style. You may get to diversify your skills in a way you wouldn’t have been able to in your previous role. You may even end up in a higher paying role. Or — like me — you may decide to go into business for yourself! In short, your next chapter could be amazing.

Take time to identify what you want. It’s easy to feel desperate in the days and weeks after a layoff. But just because your former organization decided they no longer need your services doesn’t mean you’re unwanted. In fact, your layoff could be just the push you need to go after your dream role. Start by looking for jobs that appeal to you, even if you don’t think you’re qualified or they aren’t in your city. The point is to get clear about what you want.

Reach out to your support network. You may feel a sense of shame or embarrassment from being laid off.  Don’t. Lots of top performers lose their jobs when leadership changes their priorities. Definitely consider what you want to learn about yourself and your industry from this experience, but then move forward. Having friends and family to help you through the transition can give you a soft place to land when you experience moments of anxiety or depression. Plus, letting people know that you’re available for a new job means they may be able to connect you with opportunities.

Adapted from: H.V. MacArthur, How To Process Being Laid Off: A Six-Step Guide 
...there was also an emotional toll. My work made up a significant piece of my social life, and it was lonely not having my friends and co-workers around me on a regular basis. My job was tied intrinsically to my identity — it was jarring, to say the least, to no longer self-identify based on my occupation.
- Rebecca Fishbein, Journalist

Think You've Got No Skills? Think Again!

Assessing your own experience, to figure out how you can fill gaps in the sectors you want to move into, is an essential exercise if you want to stand out from the crowd utilizing your core transferable skills.

Start by carrying out an audit of your own skills. If you want to change careers; a simple way to start is to list items in key areas:
  1. The things you love to do
  2. The aspects you are good at
  3. Your personal qualities
  4. Your specific work experience
  5. The dream organisations you would want to work for
Then write down how 1+ 2 + 3 + 4 are transferable to the organisations you are targeting (5) with speculative approaches. The idea of the exercise is to understand the organisations you are targeting and what strategic value you can offer them.

If you are still having difficulties in identifying what you think you are good at and what you think your personal qualities are, try this exercise.
  • Think about the successes you achieved in your previous roles. How were these achieved, what steps did you undertake to reach your goals and how did you implement these?
  • How did you problem solve and overcome challenges that arose during the process?
  • What personal qualities played a part in you reaching these achievements?
  • Were these successes as part of a team, if so, how did you get everyone on board, supporting and motivating them to share the common goal?
  • How goal oriented are you and what key skills have you brought to the fore in reaching your personal milestones?
  • How do you create a balance between your personal and work life?
  • What things are you truly passionate about?
Next, focus on areas of personal interest, the life/work balance you're aiming for.

This exercise should help you package together your transferable skills in ways you have never considered. For example: Do you have the ability to meet ever changing needs? Do you possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills? Do you have a well-honed resilience to working within time-critical environments? What about a persuasive and confident nature? And do you possess extensive knowledge and business contacts within sector organizations? 

Once you have a clear understanding of all the transferable skills you possess, focus on common denominators which would package well to prospective employers. Craft your key talking points, so you know what to say on your resume, cover letter, networking and online professional profiles. Audit your social media accounts to find ways to enhance professional identity.

Target the organizations you would like most to work for, and get busy prospecting your wish list. 

Adapted from  Elizabeth Bacchus, The Successful CV Company
How to Identify Your Transferable Skills to Create Impact
Ask any business executive about transferable skills, and they’ll tell you the same thing: not only are they important when making a career change, but essential to getting ahead. Once you reach a certain level, your hard-line training and education take a backseat to things like:

Managing Change. Entire industries are being disrupted like never before. Can you navigate these waters successfully?

Communication. Can you build relationships, manage conflict, and influence varied audiences?

Leadership. Can you coalesce people around a vision for the future?

“Just in Time” Learning. Are you skilled at rapidly gathering ONLY the information necessary to execute quickly?

Complex Problem Solving. Can you find the opportunity in adversity?

So now let’s break down how to communicate skills like this on your resume:

1. Identify the Key Transferable Skills You Need to Highlight
  • Use a resource like the Government of Canada's Job Bank, the Government of Alberta's Market Your Employability section, to quickly look up your targeted position and get a breakdown of essential transferable skills.
  • Now spend some time thoroughly assessing the transferable skills you currently possess. In most cases, you’ll have at least 50% of those required by your targeted position.
  • Ask yourself: What are all the skills I need to do my current job? Write them out.
  • Now review your list and circle those skills which correlate with your targeted position.
  • Finally, underline those circled skills which can be proven on your resume. These are the ones you need to focus on.

2. Show, Don’t Tell in Accomplishments

The CAR (Challenge, Actions, Results) technique is a great way to to break down transferable skills into accomplishments that really sing on resumes. You must tie down transferable skills with accomplishments, or else it’ll just feel like fluff.

For each highlighted skill, ask yourself:
  • Challenge. What big challenges did you face in this area? Think entire career, not just your current job.
  • Actions: What specific actions did you take to overcome them?
  • Results: What was the impact of your work?

Here are some examples of CAR-based transferable skills accomplishments:

Managing Change: Mitigated the effects of a $42M revenue shortfall as a result of new policy affecting direct marketing efforts. Led multi-pronged digital marketing campaign which cut a $42M loss into a $5M loss in 8 months.

Leadership:  Transformed staff retention rates through ground-development of a “Career Pathways” program, initially rolled out across Sales & Marketing prior to company-wide adoption.

3. Utilize a Resume Structure that Plays To Your Strengths

The bigger the career change you’re attempting to make, the MORE important a role transferable skills will play. Ensure the type of resume you choose highlights your strengths to the most advantage.
I'm Over 50 and I Need a Job!
If you're 50-plus and have experienced a job loss, or you're simply looking to switch gigs, take heart in the fact that your career isn't over. The 50-year-old who claims that “no one wants to hire someone my age” would be wrong. Below is some advice on how older workers can better market themselves in today's job search ... and get hired.

Don't ... Try Harder
You read that right. Don't.
If you've been on the job hunt for a while, with little or no success, you may have heard this platitude: Just try harder!  When you find yourself putting more and more effort into something that’s getting less and less results, it's not a sign that you should keep trying—it’s just the opposite.Of course, this isn't to say that you should stop putting in effort altogether. Rather, you should try something different, whether it's re-vamping your LinkedIn profile, networking more consistently or working with a career coach to more effectively bust through a job-hunt rut.

Do ... Make your resume ageless
Are you proud of your 20-plus years of experience, but getting no response to countess job applications? Removing key age indicators from your resume, such as the year you graduated from college and the lengths of time you were employed can make a big difference. In an ideal world, experience should trump age but to someone in their 20s – often the age of recruiters nowadays – looking at a candidate with 20-plus years of experience puts you in the same age group as a mother or even a grandmother. If you're really intent on getting a job, you have to make concessions.

Do ... Brush up on your interview skills
If you haven't interviewed in a long time, you could probably use some practice. You can always fall back on role playing with a too-comfortable friend, but seek out job assistance resources in your area first. One resource in Alberta is the Alberta Supports Centres, located throughout the province. They have free workshops on resume writing and interview skills.You may also want to record yourself speaking. If you are interested in the non-profit sector, for example, listen to your own voice, and ask yourself: Do I have enough emotion? Do I sound like I care?

Don't ... Write off temporary or part-time work
Employers are particularly receptive to hiring the over-50 set on a part-time, temporary or project basis. They employers get experienced, reliable employees, and in most cases, they don't have to pay benefits for these positions, making these workers cost-effective. Consider contacting a company that you admire and offering to work on a part-time, trial basis. It can give you a little bit of a leg up because the employer can then say, 'We can hire this person, and if it doesn't work out, we can cut ties with no strings attached.
Do ... Start a blog
Blogging about your field will help alleviate younger hiring managers' concerns about your tech-savviness. It shows that you're web savvy and that you're up-to-the-minute in your field. If you're blogging about the latest advancements going on in your field, potential employers will say, 'Wow, this person is really current.
Do ... View your Age as an asset
Learn how to differentiate yourself from younger competition. Make the case for yourself not as an older person but as an experienced individual who has the ability to work in many environments and with different personalities and someone with a good track record of success.

Quick Reference: Packaging Your Skills to Sell Yourself

How do you package your skills to make yourself more attractive to potential employers – or even identify those skills?

Consider All Your Life Experiences
If you have workplace experience and “hard” skills that relate to a job you’re pursuing, great. But think more broadly. Review the skills or talents you’ve developed outside the workforce, and determine which could appeal to employers. Have you ever volunteered for a charitable or community organization? If so, what skills did you put to use for them? If you headed a committee, maybe you honed your organizational skills. Did you do any fundraising or budgeting? That could translate into financial skills that are useful on the job.

Stay Current
Talk to associations related to your area of interest, to research the current qualifications for the field, and to assess if you have them. Learn what employers are seeking in your field and upgrade your skills and knowledge as required. Getting up-to-date could be a matter of ensuring your computer literacy or taking a course to learn the latest techniques in a particular field. Besides a course, one way to get up to speed on a particular skill (for free) is to practice it through volunteer work with a community or non-profit organization.

Make Your Resumé Relevant
A chronological resumé is fine if your jobs show the steady progress you’ve made, and if those jobs clearly relate to the one you’re pursuing now. But what if you have holes in your employment history, or are entering a new field? In those cases, try organizing your resumé by the qualities employers would be interested in, instead of by job experience.

As an example, if you’re looking for a job in customer service, but don’t have any paid work in the field, think instead of the skills required for that particular role and where you’ve acquired them. Many varied experiences could have helped you build your interpersonal and problem-solving skills – generic skills that are of great value in customer service.

You’ll have the chance to make your case even more strongly during a job interview. The function of the resumé is to help you land that interview - to achieve that end, a list of your qualities can sometimes be  more effective than a list of your jobs. 

Prepare for the Interview
In interviews, the people hiring aren’t just interested in your past job titles. They want to hear how you’ve applied the skills they are seeking in a new hire. “Give specific examples that demonstrate certain skills – the situation you used them in, the actions you took, and the results [of those actions]. The examples don’t have to come from a previous job. Running a successful 10-person department shows HR skills, but so does running a team of fellow volunteers at a charity.

Quick Reference: Where Can I Find Resources to Help?

The Government of Alberta Alis website  has a wide offering of tools and resources to assist those dealing with job loss, including an excellent workbook to help people with job loss. Creating a New Future: The Job-Loss Workbook is a free, downloadable publication full of information from legal rights, to financial budgeting, to self care, and help with identifying skills. It also contains links to tests, quizzes, and assessment tools. It also contains action planning pages. The CAREERinsite section of ALIS' website offers comprehensive skills, interests, and abilities exercises that are helpful in creating a career path. 

Another resource that we at Wendy Ellen Inc. use - and recommend - is Mind Tools which offers great resources on exploring your skills and abilities, offers quizzes and tests for self-assessment, and even provides 'bite-sized' learning. 

Quick Reference: Polish Your Social Media Presence

“It’s estimated that almost every hiring manager (93%, to be exact) peruse the social media profiles of job candidates that they’re interested in,” writes Jennifer Parris at FlexJobs. “How are yours looking? You should spend a few hours going through all of your accounts and make them private, to start. Eliminate anything (posts, pics, etc.) that don’t paint you in the most professional light possible, and consider starting new profiles that represent you as an expert in your industry. That way, potential employers will find tweets from you that showcase your knowledge about current industry info, not you engaged in a political Twitter war.”

Parris also stresses the necessity of getting your LinkedIn profile up-to-date as soon as possible.
Click on the image below for a quick snapshot of the types of resumes.

Quick Reference: The Advantages of a Functional Resume

The difference between a functional and the ‘standard’ resume is how it approaches the work history. With the functional resume, you won’t highlight a chronological work history; instead your focus is on the skills and experiences you’ve gained throughout your working history but also any outside activities or things you’ve been doing. The emphasis, therefore, is not in your titles or the number of months you’ve worked but on the experience and skills you’ve gained.

A functional resume can be extremely beneficial for many job applicants. The format can provide you with these benefits:

Focus on the most important aspects
A functional resume can actually help you to better highlight your suitability for the role in question. You will need to fill the resume with skills rather than job titles and this makes it easier to focus on those skills the employer is looking for. You can examine the job description and start meticulously including examples of those particular skills that would help you to perform in the position.

You have a clearer focus on what your skills are and how they relate to the job in question – the vision of what’s required becomes much clearer because the structure of your resume will be so different.

Highlights transferable skills
Unfortunately, job applicants are not always very good at focusing on transferable skills. If the focus is on work, you tend to just emphasize the skills you’ve gained in the position without necessarily looking broader at what you can and cannot do.

But with a functional resume, you need to focus on transferable skills and take a more critical look at the things you’ve learned throughout your life. This point is especially important for those looking for a different career path. You might have experience on sales but what if you are looking for a marketing position right now.

With a functional resume, you can look beyond the job title and role and simply focus on the skills you’ve learned and which can help you in the new career path.

Reduces redundancy
A well-structured and accurately written functional resume can also reduce redundancy. With a chronological or the so-called traditional resume, you might be mentioning the same things twice. You might list the same skills for different job titles or include similar skills in your job list and under your skills.

This takes unnecessary space and makes the hiring manager’s job more complicated. In a functional resume, you don’t keep mentioning the same things over and over again.

There are many examples and templates available to create your own functional resume. Check out the links below.
Government of Alberta Alis - Choose a Type of Resume
Functional Resume Tips and Examples from Indeed.com
Resume Builder - Government of Canada
Source: MindTools.com
Entering the workforce with confidence takes detailed know-how.

Contact Wendy Ellen Inc. for assistance today!
About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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