Coping With Redundancy

As much of the world heads into recession, many people are being made redundant and looking for strategies for coping with redundancy. Armed with helpful information and strategies, your chances of surviving and thriving after redundancy are dramatically improved.    

Dealing with emotions

The first step is to be aware of your emotions – how do you feel about the redundancy? Some will experience shock, anger or anxiety while others may feel a sense of relief and even excitement. Everyone’s experience will be different depending on their individual circumstances. It’s important to understand how and why you feel the way you do as it will impact on what your next steps will be.  

If the redundancy has come as a shock and you feel angry, worried or anxious, it’s important to work through those feelings. Talking with your partner, family member, friend or colleagues enables you to process your thoughts and feelings which will help you make sense of your emotions. You could also speak with your manager, your HR manager, or a career coach.

Well-being and self-care

Your well-being is important. It’s even more important when coping with redundancy. Make sure you keep track of how you’re feeling and remain as proactive as you can in meeting your emotional and physical needs. Some report feeling like they are riding an emotional roller-coaster experiencing moments of optimism before switching back to pessimism. 

Do things each day that boost your positivity like listening to your favourite music or taking a walk in nature. Try making a list of ‘productivity boosters’; activities you enjoy and that make you feel good. Make a pact to do at least one of these activities every day. Keep in touch with friends, family and even colleagues also going through redundancy as that can be a great form of moral support. Do things that give you a sense of purpose. Continue with or get involved in volunteering or consider taking an online course to boost your knowledge or skills.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself, becoming worried or anxious about the future. Try to set goals for yourself that keep you achieving amazing things. Keep an eye on the future and envisage the flourishing life you are creating. Savour your achievements and practice gratitude whenever you can. It can be challenging if you are feeling low, but do whatever you can to keep your spirits up. If things become too difficult or overwhelming, make sure you talk to someone about how you’re feeling and get support if needed (see links below).

Managing finances

If you receive a redundancy payment, think carefully about how you will manage your finances. Understand it could take months before you are generating a regular income again. Ideally, you should work out your monthly expenses and only use that portion from your redundancy fund.

As we move into a period of recession jobs can become scarce. It may take longer than usual to find another job and you may earn less than you did before. Bottom line, don’t go crazy spending your redundancy funds treating it like you won the lottery. It’s better to be frugal and to take the necessary actions to make those funds last as long as possible.

Further advice and support on financial matters is available through your local Citizens Advice Bureau and the Money Advice Service. If you need to apply for income support, register with your local job centre as soon as possible as it can take time for your claim to be processed.

Next steps

Identifying your next steps will depend on what you want to do. Will you look for another, similar role or do you want to take your career in a different direction? Understanding the job market is crucial so that you can determine how best to position yourself. If it’s been a while since you were in the in the job market, things have likely changed.

Consider if you need to be active on a professional networking platform like LinkedIn. Make sure you create a strategy for your job search. An ill-prepared, scattergun approach of shooting off your CV to recruiters and job boards won’t land you your next job. Instead, you need to ensure you are clear on three things: your goals, your brand and your strategy.

Defining your goals

While you might not realise it, in the face of redundancy you have options. You could aim to secure another role similar to the one you’ve been doing. The other is to sidestep into a different sector or find a role that makes better use of your skills.

Redundancy also offers you a chance to pivot in a completely different direction. If you’ve been thinking about a career change, this could be the ideal time to explore and work on your transition to a new career. This can be daunting for some who envisage a lengthy re-training schedule and years of working their way through the ranks, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

When you already have substantial work history, it can be much easier to repackage transferable skills towards a new career. Think about all the skills you have developed throughout your career. Then group these into skill sets to build a bigger picture of your competencies.

If self-employment is a consideration, what relevant skills do you have and what activity would you like to do? Will you be freelance, or do you have a business idea you’d like to pursue? With an entrepreneurial mindset, you can pursue numerous options. From becoming a sole trader, a company or even set up your own social enterprise or charity.

Personal branding

Embrace the concept of viewing yourself as a product or service. What are your unique selling points (USPs)? Why should someone choose you over another candidate? What sets you apart from other candidates? What value do you bring? Once you have answers these questions, you are ready to build your personal brand.

You might have niche experience, specialist qualifications or in-depth knowledge of a challenge or area of opportunity. Achievements are often forgotten but are the real gems of our career story. Think about challenges have you have overcome, times when you went above and beyond what was expected or when you were commended for a job well done. There will always be things that make you unique and your mission is to identify these so that you can communicate them to a potential employer.  

Career strategy

Your next task is to develop a strategy. How will you market yourself and to who? Sure, job boards and recruiters still advertise and manage job vacancies but when you consider a large proportion of jobs are not openly advertised, you need to widen your net further. Identifying organisations you would like to work with is a good approach. Once you have a decent list of potential employers you can reach out to them to see if they have any suitable roles. You can also follow them on LinkedIn and social media where you can keep an eye out for opportunities as they come up. This might be news of landing a big contract (the perfect time to be in touch with a department head or in-house recruitment team), or even an open call for applications for positions that become available.

Growing your network is essential to tap into the hidden job market. Many roles are filled by organisations head hunting talent through their network either directly or via an internal talent finding system. In some sectors, for example, existing staff are offered a finder’s fee for recommending talent from their own network to fill vacancies. This saves employers time and money by streamlining the recruitment process.

There are countless other strategies that can be used to find your next job. The best strategy will depend on your target role, sector and opportunities. You might find it helpful to work with an experienced career coach who can guide you through this process. Don’t be afraid to ask people you know how they found their job, you’ll be amazed at the stories people have to share.

Getting help and support

If you need help coping with redundancy, reach out to someone. Talk to a friend, family member or colleague or consider working with a career coach. If at any point you feel you are struggling to cope, please don’t hesitate to contact a support service like Samaritans or check out MIND charity’s list of mental health crisis helplines

Summary

Coping with redundancy can be tough. But it can also be a time of valuable self-discovery and career development. Paying attention to and working through your emotions is vital and will help you consider your next steps. Rather than knee-jerking into a frantic job search mission, take your time to gain clarity in three areas first: your goals, your brand and your strategy. If you feel you need help, reach out for the support you need. Don’t suffer in silence and don’t take your redundancy personally. Remember that this is temporary and things will improve. 

Further resources:

ACAS is an employee/employer information, arbitration and mediation service offering advice and information on employment matters and provide information about your rights during redundancy.

The UK mental health charity MIND offers some great guidance on how to cope with redundancy including managing your mental health.for 

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