Martin has worked in the offshore industry for 22 years - this is his story of how he survived a lean period and networked successfully to a better role.
Martin started work as a land surveyor, but graduated to becoming a hydrographic surveyor, qualifying him to work in the oil and gas industry as a freelance 'gun for hire'. This enabled him to earn a high salary, give him control over where he lived and when and how he worked, and he enjoyed a comfortable life for some years after settling in the affluent south of England.
Given the volatile and cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry, Martin began over time to look for jobs in the undersea telecom cables sector. He worked in places as diverse as Brazil, Greece, Denmark and Japan in the space of one year. It seemed there would be no end to the demand for faster telephone and internet connections in the boom years, and new telecom companies sprung up from nowhere to get in on the act. But it turned into a classic bubble that burst -and as he was now out of touch with the work he couldn't go back to the oil and gas industry. In addition that sector was also having its problems.
Martin knew that if he was to secure another position, he would have to spend most of his time networking. This meant:
-Contacting specialist industry agencies.
-Attending trade fairs.
-Keeping in touch with all the contacts he knew in the industry.
-Recording details of every contact and summaries of conversations and emails exchanged.
-Following up on information which came out of those conversations and correspondence.
-Contacting prospective employers direct.
Success came through a very old contact Martin had emailed six months previously - this person was offered a contract he wasn't able to take but knew it would be something which suited Martin and passed his details on to the prospective employer.
Martin is now earning more than he ever has done in the offshore renewable energy industry which is likely to last many more years to come.
Whether you are in the offshore industry, employed or self employed, he shares his top tips for surviving any lean periods:
-Do not lose too many old contacts, they may come in handy in the future.
-Keep a close watch on what is happening in your industry to identify any potential slumps and take corrective action i.e look for an alternative position or retrain.
-Keep your skills and knowledge up to date.
-Try and build up a financial buffer for the next downturn.
-Be willing to try most things to 'keep going' during the lean times
-Always look for the positives - spending more time with your family or developing an appreciation of those surviving on low salaries
Being made redundant or any period without work, whilst difficult at the time, can ultimately be a positive experience if you approach it in the right way.