With redundancies still taking place across many sectors of work, an increasing number of people are being forced to take a step down on the career ladder and accept more junior roles with lower salaries.
While taking a step backwards in your career can be disheartening, there are ways to make it work for you. Follow our survival tips to make the time worthwhile.
Taking on a more junior role following redundancy can be psychologically – and financially – difficult to handle. It’s perfectly normal to feel a bit down following the change in circumstance and perhaps suffer from a lack of motivation and confidence – the trick is to stay positive and seek out the benefits.
Take a long-term view
Make the next few months count in your career development. Rather than see your latest job as a waste of time, use the time wisely and take what you can from the experience. "Stay connected to the possibility of a move up to your previous level again," says Simon North, co-founder of careers consultancy Position Ignition. "Your learning at the lower level just might provide you with greater insights for the future."
Take stock of your skills
Now is the perfect time to both hone existing skills and develop new ones. Take a look at your skillset – this includes ‘hard skills’, the hands-on practical skills you use in the job (any computer software you know, for example) and ‘soft skills’, such as communication and leadership.
Focus on the parts of your job you don’t feel so good at and find ways of improving. Ask your boss about training opportunities, or do your own research by reading books and finding learning materials on the web.
(Net)work it, baby!
Chatting up that guy or girl from sales while you’re making a cuppa in the office kitchen doesn’t really constitute networking, but making contacts at conferences and events does. Effective networking can reap rewards in the future.
The social media age has made networking easier than ever and the web is a very handy career tool. Get social media-savvy and seek out groups on Facebook, follow key individuals on Twitter, and create a LinkedIn profile. Meetup.com is also a nifty portal to research networking opportunities.
Stand out from the crowd
Remember how much experience you have under your belt and use it as ammunition to shine in your new role. Show keenness, dedication and ambition by offering to take on more tasks outside your job remit and offer to help colleagues with their work. Make an impression now so you’ll be first in line for promotion if a more senior job comes up in the future.
Don’t sell yourself short on a CV
When it comes to writing a CV, keep any mention of your current role succinct. "Don't highlight it," Simon advises, "there are ways of showing your experience without labouring the point. Keep in mind that CVs are a one-dimensional document only used to get in front of someone for a discussion."
If you’re worried about your new job appearing too prominently on your CV, consider a different format. While a chronological style would draw attention to your latest role, a skills-based CV will focus on your skills and experiences. See our CV templates section to find out more.
Talk the right talk
Before an interview, get your story straight and think of all the positives you can draw from your experiences. Be honest about your circumstances and don’t underestimate your learnings and achievements.
"Tell the truth and do not try and hide it," says Simon. "I would be interested to know how you utilised your time when you were working at a lower level. How did you contribute over and above your lower pay grade and how did you keep learning and growing?"
Finally, curb your spending. It’s easy to hide your payslip in the dog basket in the hope that the salary fairy will make everything better again, but it’s best to take action now to avoid debt later.
Keep an eye on your bank balance and work out your essential outgoings each month – mortgage, bills, childcare, etc. Any remaining balance is money to play with, but be strict with yourself and stick to this amount. If you’re struggling, try opening up a separate bank account solely for spending money, or drawing out your spending allowance each week in cash.