Confidence – The first casualty of redundancy


Over the past eight months I have been doing quite a bit of Outplacement work with people who have experienced a redundancy. Most of the people I have worked with have had a work history of +10 years and many have been in the mature age end of the market (+45 years old). I have worked with people who have many different skill sets like; sales, marketing, supply chain, manufacturing, engineering, accounting. I have worked with managers and senior executives as well as the positions that report to these positions.

Job loss and job rejection affects confidence

A loss of confidence seems to be a common theme and while we all are experiencing the same storm we are also in very different boats. For many a job loss spells considerable uncertainty and this triggers feelings of anxiousness. As people engage in the job seeking process confidence can take a battering when they start to receive notices advising that their applications have not been successful.

This level of rejection is often very new to many people. If you have never been in sales you would probably not recognise that rejection is a perfectly normal part of the selling experience.  The same applies to the job search process. Sales people measure their conversion of success at critical points in the sales process. It helps them to forecast future sales success. A good sales person knows their conversion ratios and then seeks to work on each ratio bit by bit improving what they do and learning from their mistakes. From personal experience I know that when I can predict a future outcome with some level of accuracy then my confidence is strengthened and I feel more in control of what I must do to achieve a result. The same can apply to the job search process and as a job seeker you have factors that are within your control and when they are fine tuned they will deliver greater certainty in securing a job interview. The ratio of job applications to job interviews is just one conversion ratio in the process of securing a new role and it is the focus of today’s blog. The more you can focus on what is within your control the more control you have over your experience and this aids in managing uncertainty.

Managing uncertainty and feeling the anxiousness that it creates energises some people and paralyses others. The key is courage. To feel the fear and do it anyway. When you start to measure your conversion ratios and adjust the factors that are within your control you will be able to measure their effect. Measuring what you do is critical to learning from your mistakes. If you are going to repeat a task over and over again, measure it and systematically improve it. You would do that in a your job and I would encourage you to do that in the job of getting a job.

Conversion ratios can be measured in your job search process and they can tell you a great deal. One such ratio is the conversion of applications to job interviews and measuring this ratio can help you to work on some factors that are within your control. This can enable you to positively impact an important step in the job search process getting that first interview. Being able to take some control and predict future success goes a long way to lifting confidence in your ability to get job interviews and thereby winning that next important position.

Understanding Your Conversion Ratio

Imagine you are an airline pilot and only reached your destination 50% of the time. That level of conversion would be disastrous. But if for every two applications you sent out you got one interview, well you would be a legend. The key here is to recognise that you, the applicant have factors that are within your control and that by focusing on those factors you can leverage a very different outcome, one that can result in a greater level of success.

Firstly, what is a good conversion of applications to the first interview? Simply put the answer will be unique to you and the industry you work in. However that does not stop you from setting a goal. Let’s imagine you said that your goal is 5:1. That means for every five applications you send out you want to secure one job interview. Great, then look back at what you have been doing in your current job searchand compare. You may find that you have a better conversion ratio than 5:1 if so you may already be doing what is needed. However if your success ratio is greater than 5:1 there are a number of factors within your control that you can use to improve your success. 

Improving Your conversation ratio

1. A Strong Resume

You have control over the document you are sending out into the world. To give you some perspective on this,  take your desired annual salary and multiply it by a factor 3 (I have chosen a factor three based on the assumption that you will stay at least three years in the job).

Now imagine you had your own business and you were submitting a tender document for a piece of work that was worth this amount of money paid to you in monthly increments over a three year period. Your resume is your tender document. Is your resume worthy of your annual salary multiplied by a factor of 3? Have you got well written compelling achievements that sell you and your abilities? If you would like to know more about your resume check out a 5 part series on the resume written by my colleague Karen Flanagan.

2. Target The Right jobs

Targeting the right jobs is critical because these are the jobs that will be the best fit with your experience, skills and achievements.  Targeting the wrong jobs may give you hope but it will also result in higher levels of rejection and that will crush your confidence. A good sales person knows they need to target the right customers for the products they are selling. In the employment market you are the product. Are you a fit for the job you are targeting? Invest some time working through the industry, company size, responsibilities, business challenges to better understand what your target market is. Be realistic about your experience and skills. Are you applying for:

  • A similar position in the same industry? This is often a low risk option.  
  • The same job in a different industry can work provided you do not require industry experience and you have good transferable skills. 
  • A different job in the same industry can work provided there is some logical movement in the job like a promotion and provided that the industry is valued and important. 
  • A different job and in a different industry can be the hardest of all transitions and is not only a job change but often a career change.

3. Interview Practice

Interview practice is important because you may experience a screening process before you get to meet anyone. Being able to respond quickly and professionally over the phone or online may be the only chance you will get to participate in a more considered interview process. Interview practice is highly valuable because it will help you secure an interview and it will help you perform better during the interview. Ever completed an interview and spent the next half hour kicking yourself about the things you should have said?  Don’t practice in the real situation. Think about how hard it is to get an interview; don’t hope it will all come together in the interview because it may not. Getting interview practice and getting feedback about how you interview is something that you can do to hone your interview technique. Remember you may not have had a lot of experience going for job interviews therefore getting some practice is a good thing.

There is a lot more to the factors within your control and if you would like to know more about what they are and why they are important then please let me know and I will do my best to answer any questions you may have.

You can also check out our website and consider our New Beginnings Workshop as well as our other services.


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