Down with the kids

After over twenty years in recruitment, there are many things that I’ve heard that either fill me full of dread or hopelessness, but few concern me more than one phrase that is becoming increasingly prevalent – “I’m going to have some time off with the kids”.

This phrase seems to have gathered momentum due to the number of people, who, when switching jobs, find themselves put on garden leave. In these circumstances, with guaranteed pay for the duration and a new role to look forward to at the end of it, it is a perfectly acceptable use of time. One word of caution though; a friend of mine has “enjoyed” three spells of garden leave, and his kids now dread Daddy being around more often than normal. In today’s hugely demanding world of work, many a parent’s busiest time at work coincides completely with the “not to be missed” years of their children’s development, and it is entirely understandable that you should want to redress the emotional balance, even for a short period of time.

But these people know there is an end to this “golden” period. Those individuals who cause me greatest concern tend to be (huge generalisation approaching) males of a certain age who are made redundant in June or July of any year. In many cases, this is the first time they have ever found themselves out of work, and either do not understand how the market works, or assume that they are going to walk into another job. They declare that they will spend more time with the kids over the summer holidays and pick up the search in September.

There are any number of problems with this. The more senior the position, the longer it takes to recruit for it. If you apply for a role on the first day that an advert appears, it is unlikely that you will be invited for interview with the recruitment consultant within the first fortnight. It is unlikely that you will be informed of their decision within the next fortnight (four weeks and counting). Assuming you get through the initial screening to be put on the shortlist, it may be another fortnight before all the first interviews with the client are completed (six weeks) and a further fortnight before a final decision is made. That’s two months; you applied for a job in September and are starting work in November, but have been out of work since June.

I appreciate that it is highly unlikely that you will only apply for one job at a time but the total time commitment in the above scenario would be one day. In two months. Giving you virtually two months with your kids, except that by now your kids are back at school, and you are driving your wife crazy by being stuck around the house all day.

It is difficult to gather your thoughts after redundancy and to get a clear idea of where you want to go, but you have to get back on the horse as quickly as possibly. Two examples for you. A friend left a major multinational chemicals company in July having worked for them since university. He immediately began networking and applying for jobs, while at the same time doing all those tasks around the house he had been promising for years, spending quality time with his wife and four kids and having a fabulous family holiday. He started a new job in November, one of three he was offered. A second friend “took the summer off with the kids” and started looking once they went back to school. He is still out of work.

Job hunting is a tedious, dispiriting exercise and I have huge sympathy for anybody going through it. But it doesn’t consume all your time and efforts and you must continue to do other things around it, if only to retain your sanity.

Trust me, the best thing you can do for your kids is to not be there when they get home from school……….

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