Losing your job can be one of the most traumatic experiences in your working life. Conflicting waves of emotion race through you: anger, frustration, disbelief, acceptance… even relief. You relive things in your mind… was it something you did, or perhaps didn’t do? Could you have changed something that would have spared your job? Most of all there’s the uncertainty and doubt about what to do next… where will you turn, how will you pay the mortgage?
There’s no doubt that losing your job is an incredibly trying experience. I know… it’s happened to me twice in my career, and when you’re living through it it’s not fun. But looking back now, I have to say that on both occasions being made redundant was categorically the best thing that could have happened to me, spawning a new chapter in a career that’s been interesting, diverse and rewarding.
The last time, back in 2001, I was working as a project manager for a start-up technology company. Being suddenly made redundant led me to take the plunge into self employment as a freelance writer. Since then I have become a columnist, feature writer, marketing copywriter and, most recently, an internationally published author. My first book, “Understanding Digital Marketing“, co-authored with Damian Ryan, was release in January by publishers Kogan Page in Ireland, the UK and the USA. Things are looking exceedingly positive for 2009, there’s another book deal in the pipeline, and several other projects that will keep me busy well into next year and beyond.
And the catalyst to all of this was losing my job.
If you find yourself caught in the cross-fire as companies battle to survive the recession, try not to despair. Yes, on the one hand losing your job is a potentially devastating blow — but only if you allow it to be. The first, and perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it’s your role, rather than you as a person, that’s being made redundant. The fact that your position is no longer required by the organisation isn’t a reflection on your ability to do your job. Secondly, remember that, at the end of the day, the only thing you’ve lost is a job. Unlike your family, your friends or your health, your job is a disposable commodity that can be replaced, often by something better.
Top tips for coping with redundancy:
- Take stock: redundancy gives you a great chance to re-assess your career, your life and what’s important to you. Look at it as a potential catalyst to bigger and better things; something to force you outside your comfort zone and prompt you to take action.
- Talk to other people: talking to people you know who’ve been through the experience will help. You’ll be surprised by how many of them look back at their redundancy in a positive light.
- Get what you can: many companies only offer the statutory redundancy packages they’re obliged to under Irish law. Don’t let that stop you from negotiating for more: the more you get the easier the transition between jobs will be. If you’re affiliated to a trade union, see if they have negotiated preferential redundancy rates for members.
- Sign on immediately: this is important to maintain your PRSI contributions, and the money every week will help supplement your savings while you look for work.
- Start job-hunting: finding a new job can take a while, so start looking immediately. Your employer is obliged to give you time off during your notice period to look for work.
- Tighten the belt: cutting back on unnecessary spending and sticking to a strict budget while your income is suppressed will help reduce financial pressure.
Most of all, try to stay positive, and look at your redundancy as a stepping stone to the next stage of your varied and interesting career.