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Redundancy: a challenge and an opportunity

Years ago, I faced one of the employed worker’s biggest fears; redundancy. The company I worked for needed to let a number of people go. Immediately after being informed of the state of affairs, I was further informed that my position was one of those evaluated for cut, and in the end, I was let go. I faced a few of my heaviest, gloomiest days that I can recall in my career thus far. However, I came out of it alive, well and employed, and I learned a number of lessons from this.

  • It’s OK to get emotional about it
    • We spend a lot of time at work. The threat of redundancy is likely to evoke emotions in anyone, and it is not surprising if you feel a bit shellshocked. The important thing is how you deal with it. Make a concerted effort to work through it constructively.
  • Take it as a challenge, not an insult
    • Instead of getting insulted, realise that it is a challenge to be met head-on. Take it as an opportunity to go out and get an even better job than the one you lost.
  • Go gracefully
    • Potential legal repercussions aside, how you choose to leave the company can mean a lot for how you are seen at an interview. The ability to show glowing recommendations from your previous employer is worth a lot more than some temporary venting of anger and disappointment. Going gracefully reflects well on your abilities to be a team player.
  • Don’t hold a grudge
    • This is a tough one. Remember that it is not personal. Your employer did not let you go because they hated your guts, or because you did a bad job. They let you go because they could not afford to keep you on. The ability to speak in kind tones about an employer that let you go speaks volumes about your character and integrity.
  • Work yourself out of the slump
    • The loss of a job is a fairly extreme change, and you will very likely find yourself processing it through the lenses of the five phases of the coping cycle of change (denial, defence, discarding, adaptation and internalisation). It can be particularly rough as the rest of the company is still there, but you aren’t. If you are not careful, depression may hit, and hard. Take any opportunity to work yourself out of that.
  • Talk about it
    • Keep your loved ones appraised of the situation. Talk it out with them, and listen to what advise they may have to offer. Take comfort in being loved.
  • Reach out
    • However long or short you may have worked, you will most likely have some sort of network. Reach out to them, ask them to circulate your LinkedIn-profile or resume, and to let you know when they hear of a job that they think may suit you. Contact any and all recruitment agency you can think of, and make sure to meet with them in person; they will get a feel for you, and present you accurately to a potential new employer.
  • Work out
    • One of the things about the slump that you will face, is that getting out of it will require effort on your part. One thing I found very useful, was to keep active. Whenever possible, I walked from interview to interview. In addition, I made sure to get a good workout in as often as I could (which is surprisingly hard when you’re actively hunting for a job).
  • Be social
    • If you are like me, you will tend to withdraw when made redundant. While it is understandable, getting out there and doing something else, be it celebrate a wedding, or just grab a beer, will be good for you. Whenever you do, always bring a few business cards with you, so that you can hand them out, should the opportunity arise.

Losing your job is hard. The important thing is how you deal with it.

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