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A guide to surviving redundancy

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Over the past few months, here in the UK, we have seen 1000s of job losses announced by some prominent companies. How do you handle this?

To those working in these organisations, it will be very worrying times, because of the uncertainty as to what will happen to their roles. When faced with threatened job loss and the prospect of losing a regular income, it poses a threat to our personal sense of security. The fear of the unknown leaves us wondering how on earth we will survive.

 

Don't lose faith

With mortgages, rent and other bills to pay and families to support, the prospect of losing the means of maintaining all this can be very worrying. In fact, job loss has been likened to the grief process, with the person going through job loss, going through the stages of grief that someone suffering a bereavement would go through.

And in some ways it is easy to see how this compares, particularly if you have worked in an organisation for a lengthy period of time.  We become known by our roles and often we let that define who we are.  To lose that can feel like you are losing part of who you are.  There is also the sense of loss of being part of something and also the loss for the colleagues that you have built strong relationships with.

Like anyone going through grief, it is important to let yourself grieve and come to terms with this significant change in your circumstances.

However, the important thing is that you adapt to the situation and accept it, rather than resisting the change and wallowing in negative thoughts about it.

Worrying uses up a lot of your time and energy in a negative way and can be emotionally draining.  You are unable to change the inevitable happening, so whether you worry or not, it is going to happen.  However, to what extent you worry or not will determine how you are able to respond and cope with this potentially life changing situation.

Accept that it is going to happen

Accept that it is going to happen and by accepting it, it will enable you to start thinking about moving on and what you can do next.  

When faced with situations such as redundancy, it is easy to only see the position from that of the one affected by it. An understanding of why the organisation has made this decision will make it easier to accept.  

Whether or not you agree with what is happening, or whether you think that things could have been managed differently, try and put yourself in the position of the organisation and view it from their perspective. Whilst this may not lessen the blow, with perspective comes understanding and with understanding, you can find acceptance.

Choose optimism over pessimism

Having a pessimistic outlook will close your mind to seeing and seeking opportunities that exist.  With every change there comes opportunity but you have to be open to see those opportunities.

Rather than taking the view that the door has closed, look at it as a door opening. Opening to what could happen. Make a list of all the opportunities that could come about as a result of you losing your job.

This could be an opportunity for you to retrain and reinvent your career. It could be an opportunity for you to start that business that you have secretly dreamed of starting.  If you are worried about how you will cope financially, what measures can you put in place to minimise those financial worries?

Taking an optimistic approach to redundancy will make it easier for you to think creatively and identify possibilities and opportunities.

Make a plan

Preparing yourself in advance for the change will make it easier for you to adapt when it happens. What support do you need to get you through this?  Is your organisation offering outplacement support? If so, take advantage of the support that is being provided.

If your organisation is not offering outplacement support, look at what you can do to get the support that you need yourself. Do you need help with writing a CV? Do you need to brush up on your interviewing skills? Do you need advice on how to start a business? Or do you need coaching to help you with working through your thoughts and feelings about this change and/or to help you get clarity on what it is that you really want to do next.

Build your network

Start building your network and tapping into your connections because there is power in the network. Attend networking events that will expose you to people and organisations that you are interested in. It is often through network connections that you can become aware of forthcoming opportunities.

Make the use of professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn. Join in discussions with your connections and those who you want to connect with.  Utilise the opportunity to showcase your experience, skills, strengths and expertise on the platform.

If the worst was to happen, what could you do?
Those faced with redundancy sometimes imagine the worst possible outcome, such as ending up with no form of income, or not being able to get another job.  In reality, we are actually incredibly resourceful and can find a way to navigate through the most challenging of circumstances.

Thinking back over your career and your life, what situations have you previously been through where you initially absolutely dreaded the outcome?  You got through that and you can get through this.  What was it that got you through your previous challenging situation?  What support did you have to help you get through it?  What skills and strengths did you draw on back then?

What can you learn from previous challenging situations you have been through that you can apply to your current situation to help you get through this?

Redundancy can be a very scary time, full of fear, overwhelm and worry about what will happen in the future.  It is this fear of not knowing and uncertainty that causes us to think and believe that we won’t survive. This then causes us to feel anxious about the change and become stressed.

However, it can also be an exciting time, full of new opportunities and possibilities. Whichever outcome it is for you, depends on the perspective that you take.

Carol Stewart

By Carol Stewart

Carol Stewart MSc, is the founder of Abounding Solutions and UK Top 50 Business Adviser. She helps women to confidently progress in their careers, whether this is with their leadership development, a total career change, or exiting the corporate environment to start their own businesses. She also helps organisations to develop the talent pipeline for their women and black and minority ethnic employees.

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