The agency job is generally unpredictable. The fact that makes it unpredictable is because it is based on retainer or fee based on media budget from clients. For various reasons client may change the incumbent agency services. And move them to new agency. Reasons could be – current agency is doing good job, future agency is pitching with lower fee, global alignment, media budget cut etc.
Recently something similar happened to me. One of my biggest clients decided to consolidate the business with other agency (roaster). And that means me and my team were left with no job. We were offered to handle smaller media budget clients but there were limited opportunities and scope. Since I have also worked with big tech clients, it was really tough on me. I decided to quit. I was with the company for almost 6 years and it was like a second home. So, decision of quitting was not an easy one and definitely not a well thought of.
After the handover work to the other agency, I was left with literally no work. And whenever such big change happens within a agency, a lot of internal changes happen. People had to fight harder to save their jobs and vested interests kicks in and many more. Last few months were super challenging. I just wanted to complete my notice period and get out. And luckily, company recognised the fact that there isn’t much work for my role, therefore my notice period was reduced and I went on “gardening leave” for about 2 months.
Initial few days of leave, mentally I was still in office, holding grudges against few ex-co-workers. But then as time went by, I started to use this time/break to enhance or upgrade my knowledge. I started reading some of the renowned books from the industry. I had the time and opportunity to meet for coffee/lunches with industry friends and few other friends who were in similar situation (on a break).
I was with the company for 6 years, I never bothered to look for a job because I was progressing in my career. This abrupt change forced me to start looking. And I started to understand job market little bit more. With the “performance marketing” profile, it is one of the most demanding profiles in the market. That meant, I was getting many interview calls. But due to many reasons, none of the job offer was working out. People were intrigued with the profile, but after few rounds of interview, nothing further. I could sense that it is not going to be as easy as I thought. I am going to be jobless for a while.
I came up with a full-fledged plan on how I am going to use my time. The reason I did that was because I saw that I am not utilizing my time properly. I was way more relaxed and laid back. And sometimes end up wasting time by watching television (saas-Bahu politics) and sleeping at odd hours. I have been a very organised and routine person. So, this kind of behaviour didn’t go down well. Sometimes, I too harsh and unhappy with myself. The break was turning out to be a struggle.
As time progressed, I was more aggressive with my job search. And the more aggressive you get, the more expectation you have and failure disappoints you even more. On top of that, you end up hearing many advices from people on what needs to be done. It takes a big hit on your moral and self-confidence. When nothing happened for nearly a month. I decided to give up and slowed down.. I would like to share some of things I did that helped me stay calm/sane during the break –
1) List down all the things that I wanted to do in life but I was not able to because of lack of time. For example – Creative writing. Though I am passionate but it takes a lower priority.
2) Though I was paid to sit at home, I didn’t have much visibility on next job. Which means I had started thinking about savings plan. I chose the hobbies that I thought was cost efficient and of high interest.
3) I started closely monitoring my kids’ food, playtime etc. and made sure I have dedicated time for both the kids. I didn’t have opportunity to spend some lone time with my younger one since the time I joined back my work after maternity.
4) I created my reading and writing goals and tried to follow them religiously.
5) I started building networks by attending events, meeting new people and contribution to the society.
6) I also started to learn cooking. I could prepare dishes that are simple to prepare but I had to try my hand on next level.
7) I subscribed to Netflix. And watched some quality content. I had at least an hour dedicated to watch my series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I recognise some of the characters my friends discuss on Facebook and contribute to it. It feels really awesome.
8) I did some research on topics related to kids, health, maids, and things to do in Singapore etc.
9) Last but not the least, I reviewed my health and made some changes to my lifestyle.
So, I got busy with all the things that I had planned. And at the same time, I was looking for a job. Since I was not desperate this time, I was faring well in interviews. I finally did crack one of the interviews and joined my new job.
But I wanted to let everyone know that if you do get a chance to take a break in life, do use most of it. Don’t worry about the future job because something will work out. This break gave me an opportunity to realise my potential not just at work but also in personal life. While we are busy making money, we don’t realise that life happens. And while we are spending hours in office, we are aging at the same time. That means we have less time to do things that we love in life. I never had this kind of break in my last 10 years of working life except maternity break. But maternity break is not really a break because you are so busy with the baby that time flies.
So, my only advice to whoever is working. Take some time off when you are looking for next job and do enjoy the break. Do things you love, evaluate your health, spend time with your loved ones and reinvent yourself. For me, it was a forced one but you can take a deliberate one.
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