A former CEO, Tony Docker, explains how the M3 Job Club has provided invaluable support after he became unemployed through redundancy and is helping to support him through building up his self-confidence and resilience in finding his next role.
Nothing ever prepares you for redundancy, even if it’s not the first time. This was the startling predicament in which I found myself in March 2017. Not only that, as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, I had recommended, then implemented, the close-down of the organisation, so at least I had plenty of notice this time!
However, it was my second redundancy in a row and as a CEO, you wonder how future employers might view this “failure”.
This was the fourth time I had parted company with an employer with no job to go to. The first time was 20 years ago and was scary, but this emotion was lessened by naivety as I had no doubts then about getting another job. I had been employed with the same company for 26 years since leaving school and assumed I was a valuable commodity. However, I soon learned what a poor candidate I was, and that the world was not my oyster because, as I discovered, both my application and interview skills were nonexistent!
At the same time, I was going through a divorce but luckily, my independent upbringing kicked it which, combined with my determination to provide for my children, brought out the resilience and perseverance in me – qualities which have stood me in good stead ever since.
The next time I left a job was when I felt it really was no longer me, I’d had my fill, but those six years of experience working in a sales environment had given me an added quality – confidence. So, I got a job in a supermarket whilst I sorted out my future, which evolved into a complete change of career, facilitated by my ability to work part time and start “at the bottom” again.
Later, and a couple of employers further on, I was made redundant, and this time, it came out of the blue as after all, I was the CEO, allegedly invaluable to the charity. Not so, I was a high cost that could be shed. It took me a while to grasp that this was a business decision, not a personal one, but it still hurt. However, resilience and determination kicked in once again. I knew I had to overcome negative feelings and to play the recruitment “game” with potential employers and agencies, and work on selling myself.
By then, I realised I would only get a job on “their” terms, not mine. Much as I wanted to correct them left, right and centre and moan about their processes, this attitude would not get me another job.
Being someone who is self critical and continuously analyses himself and his actions (probably due to insecurity), I arrived at a point where I knew I could only control things over which I had an influence – namely myself, but, at the same time, I had control over every decision I made. I make this point as, when looking at numerous vacancies, I found it easy to discount many of them because I focused on the one requirement I could not fulfil, a very negative approach. Therefore, I adopted an approach whereby, if I wanted to apply, I needed to be positive and sell myself in other areas. However, this approach requires confidence and a bit of cheek, but I thought to myself, “Why not? What did I have to lose?”
Even applying for jobs that I was not completely sure about would give me valuable experience at application writing, and anyway, I could always turn down an offer, though I’m not advocating a quantity over quality approach.
It was at this time that I first encountered the M3 Job Club. What a breath of fresh air it was in comparison with the negative environment of Jobcentre Plus, which, in all fairness, is not really equipped to deal with mature people seeking senior appointments.
The M3 Job Club posed questions and challenged me, and enabled me to compare myself with others in a similar situation. It also provided practical advice which bolstered my confidence and gave me the courage to “go for it”. The networking was very good, and emphasised the need to remain positive and confident, as, sadly, I witness others at the start of their journey who had not yet left the past behind. When you are competing in the jobs’ market, it’s so important to look forward and comment on past experiences in a positive way.
It was at this point I found another job but found myself closing down the organisation as its CEO some four years later, so again I found myself back at the M3 Job Club, my present position.
It goes without saying that finding work remains a huge challenge, but I now feel more equipped to meet the demands. That doesn’t mean I have all the answers – far from it. The market and I continue to evolve, each potential employer is different, and I have to factor in the fact that I am now four years older!
But, I need to succeed, and the only way I can do this is to get out of my comfort zone, appear confident, work hard and “get out there”; confidence comes from listening, learning and doing. I cannot afford the luxury of failing and I often recall that saying “If you change nothing, then nothing changes”.
The learning I accrued over the years is all about developing techniques that address my emotional intelligence, my self-confidence and how I present myself. Believe me, I don’t get it right all the time! I need to search for, and then appreciate, small successes, not just in my work search but in all areas of my life. That includes getting those jobs done that I have been putting off for years, not feeling guilty about spending time NOT looking for work and being open about my situation when talking to people. Dealing with the rejections is difficult but having a thick skin is important as is accepting that I will not make them respond to me if they don’t want to – and most important of all, being philosophical that perhaps it was not meant to be.
I can’t teach others how to develop resilience, but I do believe that if you work hard, widen your horizons and put yourself on the line often enough, then you will succeed. The M3 Job Club offers to all the support and encouragement you could ever need to achieve this significant goal.