Being made redundant is never a pleasant experience. Even for some who volunteer, and in doing so receive a large windfall, there can remain a feeling of rejection. But whatever the circumstances, it doesn’t have to spell the end of a career.
By adhering to a handful of key principles, redundancy can quickly transform into an exciting new future, one filled with many more possibilities than would have existed otherwise.
1. Don’t panic
In the wake of redundancy – whether anticipated or unexpected – this may sound like wishful thinking, but it’s important to try and remain calm.
One of the first things to do is to conduct a health check of your finances. This will help give you a timeframe for your job search and, depending on your redundancy package and savings, it may give you some peace of mind. You will also be wrestling back a bit of control.
Speak to people in your network. Some will have experienced redundancy in the past; and if not, they will know someone who has. Talk to them about their experiences, how they coped and what advice they would give – gather as much information as you can.
2. Keep active
Set time aside each day to focus on your job search, e.g. scouring job boards, tailoring your CV, meeting agencies, networking, etc. Be disciplined about the use of your time. If you set aside two hours each day, stick to it.
This regimented approach will not only make you more efficient, it will also help divide up your day and prevent the challenge of job-hunting impacting upon other areas of your life. A common plight of the post-redundancy job-seeker is that they feel guilty that they are not doing enough. Enjoy the free time you give yourself. You may not have it for long.
Exercise your mind. Even if a job is considered dull and monotonous people shouldn’t underestimate how daily activity keeps the mind lucid and alert. As you embark upon your job search, make sure you build time into your day to exercise the old, grey matter – read a quality newspaper, tackle that classic novel you should have read at university, attempt the Times’ crossword, etc.
Keep or get fit. If you already exercise on a regular basis, take advantage of the gym at quieter times or the paths and pavements outside peak hours. If you haven’t really exercised before then use this as an opportunity to do so.
Ensuring both your mind and body remain active will bring enormous health benefits, will help you utilise your free time better and will also keep the redundancy blues at bay.
It may not feel like it but this is a great opportunity to take stock. Think deeply about the career you’ve had to date, whether you’d like to continue in the same vein or move into a different sector. Write down goals you’d like to achieve and work out the individual steps to get there.
Although an exercise in blue sky thinking, this should be done with two feet planted firmly on the ground. Research the job market to find out what jobs are available and where the demand lies. There is no point deciding on a brave new career as, say, a corporate banker if positions are becoming increasingly scarce.
Also, your skills and experience may mean you could consider becoming a contractor or freelancer. A lucrative and flexible new career may be just around the corner.
4. Remain visible
Following redundancy, it’s all too easy – and understandable – to retire to a dark cave and lick your wounds. If you do, make sure it’s only for a week or two. Get out and about sooner rather than later.
Arrange to meet former colleagues and contacts. Don’t appear desperate but make sure people know that you are available and ready for work. Ask if there are projects that you could get involved with on a temporary or part-time basis.
Set up or extend your social media presence. Get your LinkedIn profile up to date and make sure that your skills and experience are prominent. Ensure that your status reflects that you are ‘considering opportunities’. Utilise LinkedIn, Twitter and online job boards to keep up to date on relevant vacancies.
If you approach a recruitment agency, choose carefully. Insist on having a chat with a consultant before registering your details. Ensure that they understand you as a person and ask for advice about how to maximise your time following redundancies. If you are met with blank looks then it’s probably not the agency for you.
As an important aside, when you do manage to secure an interview for a role, bend over backwards to accommodate the hiring manager’s desired time and place. They will be aware that you are currently unemployed. Rearranging for the sake of a previously planned social engagement will signal to the company that they are not your number one priority.
5. Stay positive and persevere
Maintaining morale is the key to surviving redundancy. It’s difficult at this stage not to descend into clichés and platitudes. But regardless of the manner of your exit, you still have a lot to offer and in fact will be stronger for the experience.
Above all else, don’t give up. Perseverance will pay off in the end. Despite having over a decade’s experience in recruitment, I have never encountered a candidate with the right attitude who has not found a job following redundancy.
By following these five steps, surviving redundancy should become more a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’.