I am currently representing too many excellent unemployed HR professionals.
There are too few jobs for them all and too little flexibility in the
marketplace to allow them to shift sectors.
This is partly being driven by the narrow-mindedness of employers, with many
presuming that the laws of supply and demand are stacked in their favour.
They want only HR people who have vast experience of their specific sector.
But they ignore talent and performance at their cost – come the upturn, the war
for talent will intensify once more and an individual’s greatness and not
sector knowledge will be the important factor.
Meanwhile, for the unemployed HR professional, the key survival tactic is
confidence. It is critical to do whatever it takes to find ways to stay active
– undertaking interim roles or consultancy to keep emotionally and
intellectually alive in the marketplace.
You need to seek independent coaching and counselling from trusted friends
who can help maintain confidence and a sense of reality. HR people are great at
supporting others, but notoriously bad at using their own support networks.
This is also the time to consider external development programmes, second
degrees, and voluntary work. If you need to toughen up on public speaking, get
out and practice it.
Think through industry shifts – if you have always wanted to work in retail
then now is the time to make the move, but be realistic about employer demands.
Whatever you decide, take action immediately. People come to me who, with
hindsight, would not have chosen to go on holiday on leaving their previous
employer. Instead, they would have thrown their efforts into repackaging
All those made redundant go through a ‘grief curve’ to varying degrees and
HR people are no different. But while they are experts at helping others
understand it, amazingly they often do not spot the signs in themselves.
You have to carefully balance whether you should take a job opportunity. In
a perfect world, you will only ever join an organisation where there is demonstrable
personal and professional growth.
It is hard to be this picky when you have a mortgage to pay, but the longer
you hold off from taking an unsuitable role, the better.
It is so easy for HR professionals to get wrapped up in helping everyone else
leave the business, they forget about their own emotional health and
confidence. This is dangerous in the current economy and I implore HR people to
find time for themselves.
By Chris Matchan, Vice president of consumer practice, Korn/Ferry