Seeing your skills afresh

Q: I I have been successful all my life, but the company for which I worked at middle management level has just closed down. I feel as if the rug has been pulled from under me. I can’t even begin to contemplate searching for a new job. I feel like I have all sense of my worth – as if the past 25 years of work and success has been for nothing. Do you have any suggestions? (JR, 46, email)

A: You are not alone. What you describe is incredibly common, so much so that it has become something of a phenomenon – recently NUI Maynooth responded to the issue by putting on a two-day workshop for agencies who deal with the Professional Unemployed. The event was over-subscribed. Among the findings was that people who have previously been successful – people like you – can find it extremely hard to get back on the ladder.

Many studies use the language of bereavement when talking about redundancy. People can go through shock, denial and anger before beginning to move into the phase of acceptance. Only then can they commence the process of making a viable plan for their future.

I would encourage you to take it one step at a time. You sound like you are in the early stages of the cycle, and here I feel it is important to give yourself a fresh appreciation of your skills, achievements, attributes and value. I would make the following suggestion.

Open a ‘Getting Back’ notebook and on page one write down and respond to the following questions and prompts:


  • What strengths do I have? These could range from ‘hard’ skills such as ‘mastery of HTML’ to ‘soft’ skills like ‘capacity to build and maintain relationships – good with people.’ Don’t stop until you get to ten.
  • What have been the main achievements of my career to date? Make sure you reach at least five.
  • If your previous bosses or colleagues were asked to identify ten good things about you work-wise, what might they say?
  • What did you most like about previous work roles?
  • Name ten people you know (previous colleagues, sports friends, etc) who think well of you, and who might be able to help you get back on the career ladder. Don’t stop at ten if you can fly past it.
  • Name ten jobs you feel you could do.


Then, ask family, friends or colleagues to do the same for you. You will be pleasantly surprised what will come up.

Once you start feeling yourself believing, if only a little, in what you, and others, write about yourself, you are turning the corner.

When you turn the corner, you will find yourself looking at adverts in the paper and saying “I could do that.” You may gravitate towards networking groups for people in a similar position to yourself. You may start contacting the previous colleagues listed above to let them know you are on the look-out.

You have been successful in the past: you can be successful in the future too. You are only looking for one job. Just one.

A final point – for the above process, Mind Mapping would be a very effective way of developing your thoughts. Our Free Job Searching eBook (see below) includes some Mind Mapping templates you might find useful.

For Sli Nua Careers’ Free Job Searching eBook, email with Free Job Searching eBook in the subject line. Contact Sli Nua Careers for CVs, Interview Preparation and Mock Interviews – tel 094 95 42965 / 091 528 883.