How to find a new job after years in a key position

Author: Milena Pervanje
October 2017

Even managers with many years of experience and key experts can sometimes suddenly find themselves unemployed, especially in this business climate in which companies switch owners, start following a new development strategy or become subject of takeovers or mergers. Some are let go and others loose their management position and wish to find a new employer because of that. 

Usually these are experienced managers, people in a mature stage of their career, aged between 40 and 50, who have dedicated a substantial part of their life to one company but have a good decade or more of active years ahead of them. These are people who, over the course of their career, have developed loyalty, commitment and focus on one company but these values all become a hindrance when a situation we have described earlier occurs. 

If you have found yourself in this situation this article will offer some useful advice on how to face these circumstances and quickly find a new job suited to you. We have gathered these tips in more than two decades of successful key human resources management in Slovenia and abroad.  

Don't burn any bridges

Loosing a job is without a doubt a traumatic event for anyone, especially when it is unexpected. But you need to keep in mind that it is a business event and try not to take it personally. It might be difficult but a pragmatic approach is very helpful and makes it easier to look for solutions. 

Loosing one's job is followed by stages of dealing with this situation quite similar to what happens when you loose a person you were close to. The initial shock is followed by protest, denial, anger and depression until finally one starts to gradually look for new paths.

When you receive the news, take some time to think about it. If at all possible, stay at home for a few days to calm down and gain perspective on things. Try to take a positive spin on things and see this event as an opportunity to review your career goals. We strongly advise against any kind of emotional reaction or burning bridges by angry words and insults.

The company has done the pragmatic thing and so should you. Negotiate for financial terms of your departure, severance pay and other benefits which help you to alleviate the financial stress of the situation. Don't forget to acquire recommendations - in such a scenario probably not from your immediate superiors but rather from business partners and relevant colleagues.

The plan

Do your best to overcome the initial shock as quickly as possible, to look forward and to approach solving this problem in a systematic way. Make a plan on how you are going to find a new employment. This plan should include answers to key questions regarding your new employment.

  1. Polish and fine tune your CV. 
  2. Prepare an accompanying letter and a motivational letter. 
  3. Study your advantages, define your weaknesses and how you will eliminate them. 
  4. What do you want to do and where?
  5. How will you look for a new job?
  6. How will you present yourself? 
  7. What are your financial expectations?

1. CV

Write the summary of your education, work experience, languages you speak and computer skills in a clear, structured manner on two or three pages and make sure you use active verbs. Don't forget to list important results you have achieved, be concrete and concise. 

Be more specific when writing about areas your were responsible for, how you reported and planned activities, what was the organization like within your area of responsibility and how big was the team you led. 

Form your CV in a tabular form. You can use the Europass form as a guide.

2. Accompanying or motivational letter

This letter is crucial in finding a new job because it works as a primary sales tool. This is the document which tells the human resources managers why they should – of all the applicants -  pay attention to you. This is the letter in which you define where, in your opinion, you and your experience can be of added value to a potential new employer. Write it in an appealing, interesting way and modify it to suit each potential employer. 

An accompanying letter is the one document which persuades the human resources manager that you are really worthy of their attention. 

3. Advantages and weaknesses

Analyze your advantages and weaknesses with the help of a SWOT analysis. This in-depth analytical approach will help you asses your competences, skills and possibilities in a realistic manner which will make It easier for you to focus your efforts to an effective elimination of your weaknesses. 

Find and write down the answers for all of the areas in the analysis. Only when you see your thoughts collected like this you can gain a real perspective, helping you to evaluate your accomplishments, understand your weaknesses and discover your possibilities. 


  1. What am I doing better than others?
  2. What makes colleagues, business partners, superiors or subordinates appreciate me? 
  3. What things in my career am I especially proud of? 


  1. What is blocking me in achieving my career goals? Am I to narrowly specialized, do I lack formal education, am I not flexible enough, do I lack specific functional skills? 
  2. Should I improve my knowledge of foreign languages, computer skills or gain a new skill (leadership, communication, conflict resolution, sales, negotiation skills...)?


  1. What can I do to become even better?
  2. What are development trends in my area of expertise? 
  3. What are the trends abroad in the line of work I do best? 
  4. Can I retrain or additionally qualify to be more competitive?


  1. What could jeopardize my future career?
  2. What is the work force competition for my field of expertise like? 

This analysis is the key for all further steps in finding a new employment. It requires a thorough review of one's capabilities, a critical assessment of one's pluses and minuses and also a reality check. But the effort you put in is well worth it when finally you try to answer the following question:

4. What do you want to do and where?

In this stage make a list of all the companies which could find your knowledge and experience interesting. These should be companies you respect, which, according to available information, have an internal culture that suits you and which you perhaps already know a bit better. 

If there are people you know working in these companies, they can help you with valuable information. 

5. How will you look for a new job?

By answering this question you will define the way to offer your knowledge and experience to potential employers. Potential ways include:

  1. Using a network of business partners in the field you are known in and/or a network  of other people who know you and who know how you operate; 
  2. Making a list of companies where you don't know anyone and where you need to make inquirers about who to address your application to – directly to the CEO or to the human resources manager? This is how you will be able to track your application. 
  3. Following employment ads in daily newspapers. 
  4. Using employment web-sites.  

Make a list of people you can turn to and the companies you wish to write to. Add all the printed or on-line job advertisements you have decided to apply for. The point of this list is to show you that the options available to you are not as limited as you might have thought. It will also help you figure out where and whom with you would most like to work and force you to check things off the list, preventing you from standing still and remaining jobless. 

6. How will you present yourself?

Prepare answers for the most common job interview questions. These questions are about your career, personal traits, achievements and failures, managing style, work priorities, work energy, your character strengths and weaknesses and about your leisure time activities. 

7. What are your financial expectations?

It may happen that it will take you a longer time to find a new job and you might become tempted to lower your price. I advise you to stick to a realistic minimum which reflects your maturity and experience otherwise you will not be happy in your new job. 

The important thing in this project is to not loose your will and self-confidence and to be abundantly wrapped in patience. Know yourself well, present and sell yourself well, maintain a realistic confidence and know exactly what you want. Success will come.