Three years ago, I found myself in an unfamiliar situation. In connection with a company outsourcing project, I had phased out my own function and my colleagues and I in the top management team had to find new jobs.
This left us with somewhat of a dilemma. We had to decide whether to see the outsourcing through, knowing full well that for every day that went by we were closer to being without a job, or whether we should look for new jobs right away.
I chose to see the outsourcing through and accepted a severance package that would help me start a career somewhere else.
That year, my January was work free. We had worked so intensely on the outsourcing project in December that I practically slept through January. February brought my first meetings with headhunters.
My first encounter with a headhunter was one I won’t soon forget. I had prepared thoroughly, my heart was beating and my outfit was meticulous. I was hoping to make a good impression. The headhunter, however, had not prepared. He was more interested in getting information and leads from my network – and the jobs he felt would suit me were jobs I had been offered four years previously. No preparation, no job match, no interest in me. His parting words were “every day from now on, you will lose market value, so you need to find a new job quickly.”
After that I booked tons of meetings with all kinds of headhunters. I was in a hurry since I now felt my market value was decreasing with every day that went by. But the more I pushed to land a job, the less I succeeded.
I ended up meeting with 16 different headhunters. Only six of them came well-prepared for our meeting; had read my CV, showcased a deep knowledge of various industries and both challenged and advised me.
I was then advised to take a break and see it as an opportunity to experience something other than a busy daily life. I had not previously tried having a long break. I had my daughter while studying and therefore did not have maternity leave. After my studies, my career followed. I therefore took the advice to heart and chose to take a break for the first time in my adult life. In April and May, I travelled to countries I had long dreamed of visiting, and in July I got my scuba diving certificate. It was amazing.
Between travels, I went to job interviews. When I thought of my gradually declining market value, I felt I was pushed to make a quick decision. When my mind turned towards finding a new job that felt right, I was more calm about the process. I still had three months left of my severance package. My focus was maintained some days, other days I lost it and fear got hold of me. I went to job interviews across Denmark, Sweden, and Germany – many different places.
It was not until I really let go and no longer forced anything that I landed a fantastic job. It was not until I identified with a newly gained strengthened market value rather than one in decline, that I succeeded.
Since then I have met more and more people who have the courage to step out of the hectic arena and give themselves time to consider their next career move; more people who have the courage to give themselves time for important considerations about their future, which a demanding everyday life does not leave much room for. It is my experience that these people become stronger and more convincing. They regain their footing, if they have lost it, they reflect, become more whole and find renewed energy.
Today, when I meet people between jobs both in professional and private settings, it turns out time and again that the break and time for reflection, which some people see as leading to decreased market value, instead results in a (re)discovered or even increased market value which a future employer – and the brave employee – reap the benefits of.
Founder of the Global Voices project. Belongingness officer and an experienced People Executive.