When You’ve Been Made Redundant, Fired, Laid Off, RIF’d

When You’ve Been Made Redundunt, Fired, Laid Off, RIF’d | JobSearchTV.com

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Have you lost your job, been made redundant, fired, laid off, RIF’d or whatever term you want to use for having lost your job? Dave Watts had that experienced and created a podcast with an audience of 1 (himself) to learn from the experience.

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So my guest today is Dave Watts. And we’re translate that for the American audience. Dave watts, who started The Redundancy Podcast, we examine the challenges older workers face, trying to find new fulfilling roles, and to try and offer insights and advice to them. In his life in his career, he’s been made redundant six times. Now, again, I’ll translate with London for the Americans laid off reduction in force, however you want to think of it. He’s been let go six times over his career, he’s always managed to find another job. And we left his last role voluntarily at the end of 2019. He thought it might be a little tougher than before. And he didn’t quite realize how tough until he came up against ageism, both overt and covert. Dave, thank you so much for making time today.

It’s a real pleasure, real. Thank you for the opportunity to talk. You’re very welcome.

So I’m just curious, what kind of work did you do? And like, how did you decide to do this podcast?

What sort of work did I do? I’ve had a varied career. Clearly being laid off made redundant six times, I’ve had to change businesses and sectors and industries on a number of occasions. I started off fresh face from university joining Ford Motor Company down near London, and worked for them and in the automotive industry for a number of years. But most recently, my last job before I took voluntary redundancy or voluntary retirement that is, was working for a police force. I was both a member of staff and a uniformed officer for 15 years.

Fabulous. And when you voluntarily left, and started to go exploring, I’m curious how you segued into doing the podcast?

That’s a very interesting question. I wanted to travel as most people do, and I wanted to take some time just to sort of consolidate where I’ve been. But I always wanted to work because I believed that I still had skills built up over the years in all of these different industries. I’m from working for a police force, I’m working on the frontline as a sort of a responder to emergency calls, I thought I still would have skills that I can offer. And I accepted that. Because of my age, it might take a little bit longer than it had in the past. And I’ve always got another job before. Sometimes I had to take a step back. Sometimes it was on the same level. Occasionally, it was a much improved position. But I always got back into work. But where a few years ago, I might reasonably expected these two got an interview for a job, I was getting nothing. Silence. And I’ve got I thought a resume that sort of reflected all of these skills. I’m well educated, I’ve got two degrees, I thought that I could represent a company or an organization and was getting nothing.

Staying Relevant

So was it me? Was that something I doing fundamentally wrong? At sort of 65? Or was it something uniquely British? So I started the podcast and look at the challenges that older workers face. And I was coming up against ageism, at one point somebody said to me, straight out, you’re too old. Now fortunately, there was nothing to record us clearly illegal. But then I started coming against the sort of the proxies for old age. “Well, you’ll be bored.

You won’t want to be trained. You’re not used to this particular industry, you’re not aware of the technology behind it.” It just proxies for you too old. And that’s really the genesis behind the podcast.

It’s interesting. I know you just brought the podcast to the sunset, you’ve retired the podcast, and you recorded 64 shows 63 shows 67 In the end 67.

I’m sure there’s a lot you’ve taken away that both benefited you and your audience pertaining to looking for work as an older professional. And I’m sure folks, for those of you who are not as old as Dave or I, there’s going to be lessons in there, too, not just simply for 20, 30, 40 years from now. But for today that will benefit you as well. So let’s talk about some of those lessons. And I’m going to toss the baton to you for what lesson number one might be.

There are I think you can break it down into sort of three distinct areas is the job search itself. It’s you as an individual and what you may or may not be doing and this is what organizations may or may not be doing the sort of the myths and stereotypes that they hold. So let’s start with the job search itself.

I’m going to interrupt you, I think the myths are really the launch point.

Well, let’s start with the myths then because it’s coming up against what the biases are. And thus, we can start looking at counteracting some of those, and how to go about doing it

Wherever you like, because not only did I speak to individuals have been affected by redundancy or layoffs, I spoke to career counselors as well who focused on on helping and guiding older workers. I also spoke to a whole series of academics around about the research they were putting behind to see if we could put some sort of actual research and real data behind it. And the stereotype, the typical stereotypes are, you will have trouble dealing with younger management, you may very well struggled to deal with different ethnic communities, you won’t be aware of the technology, you’ll be reluctant to train, you won’t be technologically savvy, you will take more time off work, you’re likely to be ill more often, you’re likely to leave because you just want to take retirement. Now all of these myths and stereotypes around that. And yet the academic research done by some highly qualified professors in both states, because I’ve spoken to American professors, European professors and British professors say there’s nothing to support those stereotypes. They’re in the minds of the individuals and the organizations. So right from the get go, before you do anything else, you’re coming up against this real barrier to taking on older workers.

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Fascinating. And folks, I’ve said this to you before. This face tells you I’m not 24. So I speak from the same perspective as Dave, that I’ve seen this and many of the people I coach see this as well. I also want to say that, I think a lot of times many of you blame ageism prematurely without looking in your mirror for what you’re not doing or doing that, shall we say, fosters these impressions. And and these are the impressions that firms have. They’ve been constructed by many of us when we were 24 and we were looking at older professionals. Karma is terrible, isn’t it, folks? So, it looks like you want to say something Dave and folks, he’s polite.

Sorry, natural, polite person not wanting to but it’s I recall looking at the some of the algorithms that Google tried to put in place to recruit people, many, many years ago. And really, no matter what they did, they came up with the the sort of the simple answer that their recruitment policies at the time were just getting in the way that they couldn’t take out this either overt or unconscious bias behind recruiting certain types of people. So you’ve got that to deal with. As you’ve just said, before you even start, and you’ve got to find a way to get through that barrier to even get yourself to the interview, let alone everything else, which is when you asked me the opening question. That’s clearly what I was up against right from the beginning. What was it that I was doing, or the way I was presenting myself or the way organizations were seeing me, that even stopped me getting to that first opportunity to show them the value that I could offer the organization?

Were you giving them a resume with all of your experience?

Well, that was my first mistake. And yes, that’s one of the things I learned very quickly. And one of the things that you’re clearly aware of. You’re going to have to make some compromises along the way. Now, for some people. Clearly, retirement is nirvana. That’s where they want to go. For other people like myself. Yes, I could retire. I’m very fortunate in that I’ve got a very good pension. I don’t have to work. But I want to, because I think I have the skills and experience it could still give organizations some benefit. And then there are others that have to work because they haven’t built up the pension or perhaps their people have been divorced and their spouse has taken the book of the pension or has been split up or whatever, for whatever reason, they still have to work. And yet they’re still going to come across these barriers, but you’re going to have to make some compromises along the way.

How much discomfort, for example, are you prepared to put up to to take a job? What have you learned from past experiences? And those are the things, what discomfort? What kind of discomfort? Well, how far are you prepared to travel? Now, when you’re young, and you’re living in a city, perhaps like London, Paris, where there’s a good metro system, and it’s, it’s accepted that you’re prepared to travel a long way, that might be acceptable. When you’re in your mid 60s, you might not want to commute long distances anymore, you might want to pick up not pick up the expense. I spoke to one professor, for example, who were talking about the problems and older workers in a particular geographical area of the UK face, in that all the valleys all of the traditional industries have closed the steel and the coal making. But the valleys that they live in are linear. So to travel, you can’t do a sort of Starburst approach you hired to go up the valley, or you go down the valley. And that in itself constricts the way that you can work. So if you want to work in those areas, how are you prepared to work I probably prepared to travel, it might be two hours to the nearest city, are you prepared to do that? Are you prepared to put up the cost and so on.

So thank you for clarifying that for me, I appreciate it. And you were talking about some other considerations that people have to decide proactively, when I interrupted you to go back to the first one,

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You’re going to have to decide whether you can put your pride on to one side. Let me give you an example. A very good friend of mine, and who appeared on the part of the podcast last year was made redundant from a very senior marketing position early on during the pandemic. Now not a great time to be looking for a job anywhere in the world. And what he found was that those particular jobs have basically disappeared. But what he was prepared to do to get an income was to drive and deliver groceries for one of the UK biggest grocery trains. So we’re here we have an individual, agree educated, using years of experience working for multinational companies, as a Senior Marketing Manager doing marketing strategies. But he’s prepared now to deliver groceries in a van starting at seven o’clock in the morning work until a 10 o’clock at night, because you want to see income. Now, those are the sort of things you’re going to have to decide that you prepared to put up with.

The US equivalent is becoming an Uber driver.

Yes, yes.

Deciding that I need to make a living, I’ve got to do something, yes, I’m running down my vehicle, I’m going to have more expenses, with repairs and oil changes. But there’s a price that we pay for every choice we make.

Yeah, you’re going to lose something and you’re going to gain something. Right? If I take my own personal circumstances, at one point, I was responsible for hundreds of people’s as an operation director. Now I work for an organization and have done for 16 or 17 months where I’m on the lower rungs of the organization. I have supervisors that are 35 to 40 years younger than I am. It’s hard. And I I’m quite open with them, it is hard to accept that I’ve gone from fairly senior positions and a fairly senior position in a police force as well as a uniformed officer to someone on the lower rung of the organization. But that’s one of the trade offs, the payoffs that you have to make, I think all you’ve got to be prepared to consider if you want to work.

And when you interviewed for that job. And came up with a 35 year old future manager. And he or she looked across at you and figured out you were not 35, did you persuade them to give you the chance?

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No. Fortunately. . . And let’s just say there’s a speed limit outside my house at 30 miles an hour. Some cars, abide by it a number don’t. There’s a law in many countries that talks about ageism and all of the other things about gender and sex and discrimination. You’re not allowed to discriminate on the basis of age, but much like the cars driving outside my house, there are those that can do it quite skillfully. So it didn’t come up. But what they did was have a whole series of competency based and behavioral interviews, which I’m well used to and was able to score highly and unfortunately, so I didn’t have to have that discussion with them. But other organizations where I have had interviews have raised it in a oblique fashion. Along the lines of as I’ve already sort of suggested, you’ll be bored. Your with your education, you’re probably not going to find this satisfactory. How do you think you’re going to deal with this sort of Lower level or lower status, it’s those sorts of questions that I’ve been asked to answer.

I’m gonna interrupt you here for one second. And on those behavioral questions that you were asked, were there things that suggested that they wanted to know, if you’d work with someone who didn’t look like you to deal with the cultural differences that you mentioned earlier, you know, people of different nationalities, people younger than you, things along those lines that you might have offered up proactively as part of your answer.

The questions were, because they’re behavioral based along the lines of can you describe a time when you did something, and therefore you have to find a way very quickly within two or three minutes to give an answer to those particular behavioral questions. So they’re there to test your understanding of the role, but also there to test what examples you can give all the sorts of difficulties that you’ve dealt with in the past. Now, again, with my background, I felt that I was able to deal with a number of those. So were the ones that dealt on ethnicity in its broadest sense. I could relate that to my police experience where I’d had to deal with hate crimes, where people from a different ethnic position have found themselves in the position of dealing with people that were being particularly unpleasant to them because of their race. So what did I do? How did I deal with it? What were the outcomes? How did I deal with these people that were deeply offended by rather unpleasant individuals? So I could draw on that sort of experience? So yes, those sort of general questions, really, were testing your ability about teamwork, integration, being able to work at pace, being able to do problem solving, whether it’s abstract or more general problem solving.

It’s interesting. And folks, I just want to point out the subtlety to which the investigation occurs. So in Dave’s example, he speaks about the opportunity to layer in the intercultural stuff that he’s aware of that the bias occurs. For those of you who are older, it could be talking about some of the technology you’ve employed in the course of your work that demonstrates that you’re up to speed with what an organization would be looking for. So then this way, they’re not going to ask you so can you work with newer technology? Yes. Oh, good. That was the right answer. It’s always more subtle than that. And you have to understand the question behind the question, and offer it up in the course of giving the answer to, shall we say, defeat some of the bias that we’ve been programmed with? Yes.

And it’s the STAR technique, isn’t it? Situation task action result.

And for senior people, I suggest soar, situation, objective or obstacle Action Result? Yeah. Just because Star to me is more for junior people. SOAR is a little bit more senior for people with a manager level and above. And then for C suite, I recommend par because they get it easier problem Action Result. Alright, yeah. So so in the course of telling the story, can layer and tons into the problem and some of the considerations that you had, and then what you did, and the result that you got with enroll cases, there’s a metric involved with money saved money earned, or a percentage improvement over what existed previously. But you’re always working into the story. Or I want more what else? What else did you take away from those 67 episodes?

Lots of stuff. We’ve talked about the sort of the, the individual side of it, I can best describe it. When I started searching for jobs, probably when you started searching for jobs, you got a typewriter for those people who know what a typewriter is, and you got a bit of carbon paper, and you had an advert and you typed out your CV, your resume and you put it in the post and you sent it and because it was so labor intensive, you only applied for jobs that you really wanted. And eventually somebody might give you a plan of actually getting interviewed a lot. Now now it’s just click and push. But there’s a downside there because you can click and push and send emails out like willy nilly, without any real thought. I think this comes back to the understanding particularly for older workers, that this is not a more appealing Hot job market anymore. It’s a different way of doing things. And you have to understand that different way. So there are a number of things that you have to understand it’s about rewriting and really understanding your resume and working out what it is that the organization wants. And it’s the old marketing adage, which isn’t that what I’m selling, and what they’re buying are two different things. I might be selling cold, but you’re buying heat, I might be selling newspaper, but you’re buying news. So you need to be sure what your value is, really show what your value is, and that you’re applying that value to interview. And I spoke to a guy called Hunter Leonard from Melbourne in Australia. And he came up with a really elegant equation. And it comes down to this. If a is greater than 50, then he equals zero. In other words, if your age is greater than 50, your experience counts for nothing. Now, I think we really have to understand that you might have bundles of experience, but you asked me early on. Did you put everything in all your working life? Nobody’s interested in what you did 10 years ago, right? It’s irrelevant. It’s what you’ve done in the last 10 years. It’s how you can demonstrate your value now. So that’s part of it.

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Also, my guests said, it’s about your relevance, not your experience. And even within experience, it’s the relevant experience that matters to them, not what you did when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Exactly. So what are you going to do now? And how can you bundle it in? So you’ve got to, you’ve got to sort that out in your own mind. There’s a word called satisficing. That has been coined by a social scientist. And what it means is, for what if the definition is you take the first available solution that comes along not the most optimal solution. So what a lot of people have discovered do is when they become they’re laid off, or they’re redundant, or they look for another job, they go on to the job seeking sites, and they fire off Seabees left, right and center without standing back and thinking, what is it I’m trying to achieve here? Hey, would it be better to just do a few carefully honed resumes to the organizations that I’ve researched and want to work for than just doing a scattergun approach, because all it’s going to happen is that you’re going to get silence. And if you get silence, you know, I know, extremely disheartening and being laid off, is difficult at the best. The best of times, it affects your emotions, it affects your relationships with your partner, it affects your income, all those things are going on it can you can fall into depression, in the worst aspects of it. So you have to be very careful about what you do and how you do it. And use it strategically.

Yes, and when you just scattered on resumes, scattershot resumes, I think of it as spam. Yeah, because you’ve taken no time to tailor it to what the audience is looking for. And they’re sitting in the theater, with their arms folded in front of them going, what do you got? What do you have for me? Hmm, because the next five people, or the last five people who auditioned really were pretty useless. So what do you have, that’s going to get my attention. And we’ve all seen these movies or plays that have that scene. But Job Hunters don’t understand that that’s what they’re dealing with. No. And

I think, again, the older worker, and for some people, of course, they might have only worked for one or possibly to organizations, they may not have had to apply for a job, it’s always been a tap on the shoulder or have a sort of a cheery little interview or chat in an office and you’ve got the job and moved on. And now they’re in a tough, hard world, where a lot of their competitors, many of their competitors are much, much younger than we’ve got relevant sort of experience. And they know exactly how to deal in a digital world. And you have the people who are older, floundering because they don’t know what to do. And what they’re doing is they’re conflating the I’m doing something with I’m doing something effective. And there’s a whole world of difference between the two.

So, so true, because folks in action doesn’t, it may yield results. But most of the time, as you know, it’s not getting you the results that you want. So how can you target in how can you focus in to get the optimal result without making yourself crazy? Because that’s ultimately what starts to happen after Whilst people make themselves crazy,

nobody’s replying, nobody’s getting back to me, I must be useless. But what they don’t know is that the other end, that they’re getting 1000s of applications for jobs. So you might have just two or three seconds, 30 seconds at the most scan,

Never 30. Never three, I worked in search for . . . I’m not w going to date myself more than 40 years and filled a lot of positions. And I had it down to four and a half to five seconds per resume.


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And if I thought there was a possibility, I’d use the Find feature in Microsoft Word to look for the particular keywords that I needed, if it weren’t there, and out the door, the trapdoor opens up, you fall backward in the chair. Next resume. Yeah. What haven’t we covered yet, Dave, because we want to make sure . . .

We’ve got the individual element or that that’s the sort of the process and the lots of things going in the process and lots of things, I think that older workers have to stand back and say, I need to learn and understand about that is different from when I started at 17, or 18. You touched on this earlier, and it’s what you do as an individual, and it’s called self disablement. Now, it also happens in organization. And what do I mean by that? We’ve all heard the phrases from older people that and don’t ask me what I mean by older people, it’s just people who are older. I’m a dinosaur, I can’t learn that. I’m too old for that sort of training. No, that’s not for me. That’s for younger people.

What are they saying?

What they’re doing is setting up in their own mind that they’re putting them out of the gate, putting themselves out of the game for all of the things they could possibly do. There is nothing structurally different between an older person, a younger person badly about learning Microsoft Office, which is a fairly fundamental, fundamental part of most job applications, if you’re working in some form of ministration. Now, I would open the bonnet, what do you call it the hood of a car, I would look at an engine? And I’ve got I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. Now I’m going to take it to a mechanic. And I think that’s fair enough to recognize your skill level. But I’m not going to say I could never learn it. Because I could. And people put themselves out of opportunities, and they do it even within work. If there’s opportunities for retraining to move on further, I cannot. I can’t do that. It’s not for me. No, no, I couldn’t possibly learn that. How do you know you couldn’t possibly the night, you’ve just told yourself, you can’t possibly learn it, you’ve got to get out of that mindset.

And when I’m sorry, please continue.

Because that organizations do that as well, by going out there to well, we’re not going to put up a train, they’re coming up for retirement in three years time, we’re not going to give them investment. Look, I don’t know how it works in the States. But in the UK, you cannot force someone to retire, I can work as long as I like. They can’t force me to retire at a state pension age of 66. Many other countries have a similar sort of way. So if you’re if an organization is saying we’re thinking they’re retiring, they’re making assumptions, which are just not true.

We just elect them as President of the United States. Our last two presidents were in their mid to late 70s. And our current president, I believe, just turned 80. So I’m not going to comment about politics here. Just other than to quip, we seem to elect them as President of the United States. Yeah. And it’s interesting what you just spoke about, in the ways that and this is true of younger workers as well, we shoot ourselves in the foot and send the message that we’re unwilling or unable and lacked desire. And it’s that the appetite for success, or the roadblocks that we place in front of ourselves that keep us from it, that also interfere within the workforce, and in the job search as well.

Yes, and they’re all artificial. Now, there are things that you can be doing from an early stage. And that’s investing in your training. And I know it sounds like a bit of a cliche, but it really is it is continually investment in your training throughout your career. I now know that what you should be doing is to looking forward to or what am I going to be doing my 60s? Do I really want to retire? Do I want to keep on working? Well, I have a big enough retirement pot or whatever. But if you think you’re going to continue working, and we know you’re going to come up against ageism Yes, we know it’s illegal. We got to accept it. We’ve got to deal with it. We’ve got to find a way around it. But you’ve got to start planning for that. And that means thinking about what do I need to learn and not just saying I’m 50 I’ve got three Five years worth of experience is all Jolly good. And someone’s bound to pick up on this. No, they’re not. I spoke to an American professor about the problems that ex military personnel after 30 years in the service of the Armed Service, even they struggled to find jobs. Now here we have people who are professional can give a demonstration of person management skills, logistic skills, managing under severe pressure, and yet organizations when recruit them for all the sort of stereotypes that we’ve talked about already. And that’s not just in America, it’s also in the UK and Canadian forces as well. So all of these sort of cadres of people are coming through into their 50s and struggling to find jobs. Now, as I said, there’s a group of people who think, who wouldn’t want someone who’s an ex military person. So if they’re struggling, you’ve really got to look at what you’ve been doing and continue to get training. And you’ve got to remain professionally curious throughout your life. What is that? What’s my network doing? What is industry doing? What what industry is growing? Where can I go?

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And formulate and sustain a professional network for yourself, who you tap into, not just simply when you’re looking for work, but you maintain the relationships throughout your career. So that in this way, when you do need to tap into the network, you don’t come across as like one of those people who only show up when they need something, or drawn something? Yeah. Is there more today, you got one more tip for everyone?

Really, it comes down to, if you’re going to continue to work, you do have to have some luck, you have to find an organization that will take you on. But what I tried to do in my podcast by looking at the process was to give you or give the people who are listening to the podcast, all of those different channels to increase their chances of getting lucky effectively. You can’t you can’t sit down and think I’ve got all this experience, you’ve got to do far more. And if you think you’re doing everything you possibly can, I guarantee you’re not. You’ve got to be persistent. You’ve got to keep on and on and on, and not give up at the first hurdle. The second hurdle, the 52nd hurdle. I hear people say, Well, I’ve submitted 150 resumes. So what keep on doing it, if you want to get work, you’re going to have to. And finally I’d say Never give up, it’s never too late to restart, you may not go back into conventional employment, you might end up going into the gig economy, we talked about putting your pride to one side, or you may decide that self employment or being an old entrepreneur is for you. If that’s the case, there are plenty of different people who are out there and role models that can show you what to do and what they’ve managed to achieve.

And, folks, if you’re a younger professional, you might just want to take a look from time to time at sites like Upwork or Fiverr, or freelancer to get a sense of how the commodity culture or gig economy values, the kind of work that you’re doing now. And perhaps experiment with doing something on the side. Because you know, your job is not going to last for 40 years. And if you’re made redundant laid off or fired, or rift, or whatever those terms are that are going to be current excess excess by an organization, you know what the fallback position is? And maybe have a few dollars set aside from work like that. So that in this way, you’re not quite sure. This has been a lot of fun. How can people find out more about you listen to some of the old episodes of the redundancy podcast, how can they get in touch with you?

So your website, theredundancypodcast.com has all the details and links to all the podcasts now, although I’ve given up on the podcast given up on the podcast, although I think it’s come to a natural end. Let’s put it that way. I’ve said what I wanted to say it’ll be there till July anyway, this year, July 2022, by the way, just like 2022. And the podcast will be available for streaming and download on all the podcast platforms until the end of 2022. At least so they can do that. And if they want to make contact, they can find my contact details through the website. There’s a contact me section there and I’d be happy to talk to anybody about that.

TheRedundancyPodcast.com Great just making sure I didn’t know was a.com.uk or something along those lines, so the redundancy podcast.com Dave, this has been fabulous. And now folks, I’ll be back soon with more. I’m Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I hope you enjoy today’s show. If you’re watching it on YouTube or listening to it wherever you do, click the like button, share it, do something that lets people know it was worthwhile. Because you know how these algorithms work. You got to you got to show some love for them to love you back. Also, visit my website, TheBigGameHunter.us Where I have a ton in the blog that will help you.

You can also find out about my courses and books about job search and hiring. And schedule time for a discovery call with me completely free or time for coaching. That’s why I can help you even more. And lastly, connect with me on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/TheBigGameHunter.

I hope you have a terrific day and most importantly, be great. Take care

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38 Deadly Interview Mistakes to Avoid

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