Have you been made redundant or are you currently unemployed and looking for a job? Are you sitting at home applying to hundreds of SEEK ads, losing your motivation and self-confidence because you’re not hearing any feedback, or if you are it’s only to be told you are one of 200 applicants who have applied for the job?

If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting! So, let’s flip “redundancy” on its head and turn it into “Opportunity, Development, Charity, Community, Engagement and ultimately Employment!”

Every week, I have a candidate, contact, client or friend made redundant. Although these conversations are challenging and I empathise with how they feel when they are faced with this unexpected situation; the flip side is that, over the past five years since the GFC, I have seen most of these redundancies end in genuine success stories. Some of these success stories are:

  • A high calibre Executive Assistant (EA) candidate of mine spent a number of months job searching. In this time, she was also very focussed on helping others to find work and through these unselfish acts, she made a connection that led to her securing the ‘perfect’ position and is now the EA to a well regarded Australia celebrity – and loving it!
  • A friend of mine was made redundant and I found her temping work in a popular Queensland charity; in addition to paying her mortgage, she made some incredible contacts there and has utilised them to gain her next career opportunity.
  • Today I was speaking with a client who was the CEO of a property company that folded due to market factors and he went on to start his own successful business. He told me he would never have taken the plunge to do it otherwise and is the happiest he has ever been!
  • A committee colleague, recently made redundant from a finance firm, found an amazing new job working in one of the best hotel chains in the world – he would never have even considered this role if he hadn’t been made redundant and he is now so grateful for the opportunity!
  • An Accounting candidate of ours who had just relocated to Brisbane, joined a not for profit organisation in finance as their volunteer Treasurer in order to meet people in Brisbane and ultimately through those connections has found the perfect job.

If you’re reading this thinking; “they are just lucky and that won’t happen to me”, then read on…

One key component to each of these stories is that they all took action and thought outside the square to gain their next opportunity.

I would like to help you with your success story and help make 2014 your best year yet. I need to warn you in advance that securing your next position will take dedicated focus and hard work on your behalf. This will now be your full time job. This is when the fun starts…think about the options and opportunities that await you…

This time of year is a challenging time for gaining employment – so, if you can financially cover yourself until the New Year, then I suggest investing some time on ways you can ready yourself for 2014. Suggestions I often recommend include:

  • Enrol in a career course: e.g. Davidson HR Consulting offers a great range of Career Workshops
  • Read (in my opinion) the world’s best-selling career advice book: “What colour is your parachute?”
  • Invest time updating your LinkedIn profile, gaining recommendations and linking up with work related contacts
  • Sign up for temp work while looking for your perfect permanent role
  • Take a break, recharge your batteries and gain a new perspective at a retreat (e.g. Atsumi in Thailand is a personal favourite of mine or you could go for a more local option like Noosa)
  • Re-connect with people you have worked with in the past – at least 80% of jobs are not even advertised (according to an article in CBB Money, 2009)
  • Attend networking and industry events relevant to your career – e.g. a FINSIA Young Professionals ‘Career Panel’ event
  • Volunteer your services to a charity in the lead up to Christmas

Volunteering is great for your health and for your career!

Gaining exposure to volunteer organisations not only helps other people, it also increases your own confidence and happiness. Additionally it connects you to people in your community, and from what I’ve observed, it opens opportunities you would never have even expected might come your way. Who knows, these opportunities may result in career openings. There are a lot of connected people involved in charities willing to help people with a strong work ethic and community values. So instead of putting all your eggs in the one basket sitting at home, submitting your CV to SEEK ads – take action, make a difference, boost your self confidence and feel good about it! (Oh, and you might even end up with a new job as an added bonus).

A survey carried out by the TimeBank through Reed Executive showed that among 200 of the UK’s leading businesses:

  • 73% of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without
  • 94% of employers believe that volunteering can add to your skill-set
  • 94% of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefited by obtaining a new job, improving their salary or being promoted

Volunteering has also been proven to have incredible health benefits including increasing your self-confidence, combating depression and staying physically healthy.

In 2011 I had a life changing experience; I went to Siam Reap in Cambodia with a company called Globalteer; a not for profit volunteer organisation who help disadvantaged communities around the world. For three weeks I volunteered as a teacher at a school called “Anjali”. I taught school children a range of practical and theoretical skills to enhance their ongoing education and development. I have never been a teacher before so at first it scared me and pushed me right out of my comfort zone, but I ended up loving it and I now know that if I ever have a career change, teaching is something I would definitely consider! I also know I had a big impact on those beautiful children during my time there, however the impact on myself personally was profound. In giving my time to them, I had actually given myself a gift even larger and can honestly say it was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.

You don’t have to travel to Cambodia to give yourself the gift of giving to others. By helping others, I assure you will gain a new perspective on your own situation and also feel a great sense of satisfaction. The momentum of activity will help you on so many levels including gaining new skills, improving your mental and physical health, improving your self-confidence. making new connections, and ultimately gaining new employment! My personal picks leading up to Christmas are – The Salvation Army, The Smith Family, St Vincent de Paul, Meals on Wheels and Vital Connection Soup Kitchens, but there are so many options and it’s such a personal choice. (Tips on choosing the right charity for you).

Let’s face it, 2014 is just around the corner – make a difference in 2013 and set yourself up for your Best Year Yet in 2014!