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Coping with redundancy

Posted on from Alexander Lloyd

Redundancy has to be one of the most difficult times in anyone’s life when your status quo is turned upside down and you are facing unemployment, and the challenge of finding a new job in a challenging and difficult market.

What next?

Redundancy has been hitting the headlines recently, with new job cuts in the public as well as private sector and the recent announcement by the government of their intention to review the consultation period.  So it seems that despite the latest reports of economic growth, albeit weak, there is not yet an end in sight to job losses and people having to face unemployment. This has led us here at Alexander Lloyd to take a fresh look at the emotional impact caused by this ordeal and what coping mechanisms can be best employed for a successful outcome – moving on to the next step in your career.

There has been a great deal of material published on the emotional impacts of redundancy, indeed there are books written on the topic and whole websites devoted to it. It has been likened to the process of grief with all of its associated emotions.  However, its impact is not limited to the person involved, but also those close to you and it is not unusual for relationships with those closest to you to also feel the strain.

Six emotional stages

The six generally accepted stages of emotion that people progress through are slightly different to those engendered by grief, but the core is similar:

Shock: 
It takes time to come to terms with what has happened.  On occasion the announcement can come out of blue with little or no warning of what is about to befall you.  There is little that you can practically do at this stage but allow time to help you adjust to your new situation.

Denial:
“This can’t be happening to me!”. This can often be accompanied by feelings of inadequacy if the redundancy has been brought about through internal restructuring and you have to reapply for your role; and aren’t subsequently successful.

Although difficult, try to remember that it is the company’s circumstances and position that have become untenable – not you.  

Anger:
From “This can’t be happening to me!” to “Why is this happening to me?” is not a great leap. It's natural for you to feel angry that through circumstances outside your control, you have been placed in an uncertain and in many cases frightening position.

While anger can be a force that motivates you, it can also cause you to make hasty decisions that may have a negative impact in the long term.

Acceptance:
Realising that life must go on and you are not able to change the cause of the redundancy, but you can change where you go next.

Exploration: 
Acceptance gives us the energy and motivation to begin exploring options. What is the next step that you want to take on your career path and how are you going to achieve this?

Challenge:
New opportunities await you. Grab them with both hands and actually start moving forward.


It's important to remember that each individual will progress through these stages in their own time, dependant on their own circumstances. It's worth noting that this is not necessarily a linear process; you may experience little set backs from time to time. This is to be expected and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself – there is no right or wrong way of dealing with this experience, as different things will affect you in different ways.

Moving forward

It's vitally important that you progress through the first four stages in your own time, using your own support network of family and friends and external counselling if you need.  Don’t rush headlong into things and underestimate the challenges that job hunting can bring.

This is a great time to unearth your CV and use it to try and achieve a degree of perspective.  Have a good hard think about your skills and strengths and get them down on paper. You do have skills that other employers will find desirable, the challenge is getting out into the marketplace again and finding out what is out there. This is undeniably a scary option for some, especially if your service with the company has been of long duration. The idea of venturing out into the big unknown, a little fish in a very big pond is understandable and not at all unusual. 

Get organised

One of the first things we recommend is to research your geographical area. Work out where you want to work and what type of commute is acceptable to you. Then find the different agencies and companies that operate in that area. We would definitely advocate the advantages of using an agency that has geographical focus in your chosen area. They generally have fantastic relationships with companies big and small in that area and can give you sound advice on moving forward. 

As a rule, good agencies will have a detailed brief from the employers that they work with and can advise you on what each role will include, and the culture of the business. This will help you to gain insights that you won’t necessarily acquire though going to companies direct. Many will also provide support and interview preparation if you ask, which can help to boost your confidence and feel more prepared as you venture into new waters.

Get networking

A great way to get yourself out into the marketplace is through networking. In HR, it is vital you keep up to date with employment law and there are many free networking events which deal with employment law updates run by local companies and law firms that will help you network with local HR professionals.

In addition, the local business networks regularly hold events that are free of charge. LinkedIn is a great tool to connect to people and groups and begin to put out the feelers. By creating your profile, not only are you connecting with like-minded professionals, but making yourself and your skill set visible to others to find you.

Think carefully about next steps

Moving forward is the ultimate goal and this is a step that should be looked at carefully. The temptation to jump into the next role for fear of a long period of unemployment can lead people to make hasty decisions that they come to regret in the medium or long term. As daunting as it can be, Alexander Lloyd always recommends that job seekers try to think strategically about their next step and make the best decision for their long-term career as well as in the short term.
 
Finances obviously have a large role to play in these circumstances, and are often the biggest cause of anxiety at this time. The short-term solution is to carefully budget whatever redundancy package that you receive, along with your savings. This will be a time of tightening the belt, and to help we do recommend that you consider interim roles as a means of not only bringing in an income during this time, but also to demonstrate on your CV to potential employers that you are maintaining your skill set and opening new doors to different industries. Also, don’t forget about the potential benefits of temp to perm opportunities that give both parties the chance to “try before they buy”.

Think positive!

The above process does of course take time, and it is wise to allow yourself time to progress through it. Don’t expect to come through it in a couple of days, but also try to keep yourself motivated and avoid the risk of despondency. 

Positive thinking is the order of the day and will make you more employable, remember, it's not the end of the world if the first role that you apply for isn’t successful, keep trying because there is another role out there that is right for you, and you will find it.

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