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How to survive the economic downturn in Science

Both if you have a job now or your job or someone elses has been made redundant

The current Global Economic Crisis has affected jobs, job security and employment within science. If you are looking you will probably have noticed that there are fewer than normal jobs being advertised. This is less than the normal yearly cycle.

Normally at this time of year employment slows down as we approach Christmas and it picks up again after Australia Day.
However this year we have additional strains.

Many companies have a ‘head count’ or ’hiring’ freeze. What this means is that even if they need to employ a new person, they are not allowed by senior management, and often this decision is made overseas.

Other companies are experiencing problems if they import products with the fluctuating exchange rate.

Others again are straining as their clients are cutting back on ordering their products or services.

What this all means, is that there are fewer jobs around and sadly some people are already loosing their jobs to redundancy.

Every day I am getting telephone calls from people with many of the same questions so I will attempt to answer them now.

1. If you have a job. Put your head down and tail up and work even more efficiently. If cutbacks need to be made and you are the best worker your chances of keeping your job are higher. Be part of the solution for your employer, not part of the problem.

2. If you are unsure about anything in your workplace, less work etc, talk to your boss. Communication is the key.

3. NEVER apply nor discuss any new job applications at work. Send all communications from a private email from home. Not your work computer. Also do not give out your work phone number. If necessary leave a number of a family member or friend and they can get you to ring me or whomever back when convenient.


If you or someone you know has their job made redundant, there are some things you can do to make it less painful.

1. Remember the job is redundant. You as a person are NOT redundant.

2. Keep a positive attitude. During and immediately after redundancy, most people go into mourning. Work is such an important part of our lives, we miss it when it is gone. Especially when it is not our fault. Let your mourning run its course, perhaps take a small holiday and do something physical. Drinking and other mind altering drugs do not help.

3. Update your resume. This is a great time to think about what you really want to do. You may want to take this time to rethink your career.

4. Use this time to update your skills. Maybe there is something that you have been meaning to do to improve your skills, perhaps do a short course.

5. Get your resume out everywhere, including sending Science People your updated resume with a brief covering letter stating what you are seeking. Please email this to apply@sciencepeople.com.au. Don’t forget about being available for contract or temporary work. We also are cutting back on the amount of advertising we do and are filling more jobs from people already on our database. So please ensure that the details and resume we have for you are current.

6. Register on free jobs boards like www.seek.com.au, so employers can find you.

7. Approach potential employers directly. If you are in the right place and the right time, the employer will not bother advertising or going to a recruiter. It saves them time and money. Many employers have on their website a section where you can register your interest in working for them. Do it.

8. Get a job. Any job, a casual job, to keep the money coming in. It may not be your ideal, but even stacking shelves in a supermarket will keep the roof over your head, food in your stomach and Christmas presents under the tree, rather than using up all of your savings. Get a casual fill in job rather than a permanent one. You don’t want to upset your new employer by accepting a permanent job that you don’t want whilst still looking for that elusive permanent ideal job. However if there is a job that is close, say 70% of what you want. Grab it!

9. If your normal job is brain work, think about a temporary job which is physical. You will get fitter, give your brain a rest and you will be able to think more clearly and be able to grab a great opportunity when it arises

10. There are some companies still employing and if you have a job, irrespective of what it is, you are much more employable than if you are sitting at home watching TV all day.

11. Retrenchment is not a dirty word. Everyone understands. It will not look bad on your work history for the future.

12. Most people today will have 4 or more careers during their life and many more jobs. (I am on my 3rd career now)

Things will get better eventually and you need to be ready when it does.

I am writing all this from experience. My first job in the lab was made redundant in the ‘recession we had to have’. I then spent a year being a driving instructor before starting a new career in scientific sales.
My last scientific sales job was made redundant, and I moved into recruitment. Now I own Science People. Sometimes it can be the best thing that can happen. You just can’t see it at the time.

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