Amid a second national lockdown in England, it’s a sad fact that some of you reading this may lose your jobs over the next few months. But before your mind drags you instantly to a place of anxiety and stress, remember: you are the author of your own career narrative.
Redundancy isn’t something you can control, but the way you deal with it, prepare for it and move on it, is. I should know – I’ve taken redundancy three times in four years. It happened most recently in July when I was told, over the phone, that my permanent role at a small creative agency was no longer viable, given the economic hardship facing the industry.
I’ve had this same ‘it’s not you, it’s us’ breakup conversation with bosses three times now. In some ways doing it over the phone – thankfully not via Zoom – was easier than sitting in bland HR rooms, watching someone squirm as they had to read out the legal ‘script’. The worst place I was told my job was ‘at risk’ was a cupboard that had been renovated specifically for this purpose. There was a copy of The Holy Bible on an otherwise bare shelf. It was grim.
There’s no denying the humiliations and challenges – emotional, financial and professional – that redundancy forces upon you. But I can honestly say, that changing the way I see the experience has helped me to let go and move forward.
Personally, I figured the universe was trying to tell me something when I was made redundant again this summer, so now I work for myself and I’ve never been happier. Alleviating the fear of losing a job is the key to feeling happy and free while you’re doing it. This doesn’t mean setting up your own company or going freelance, as I did, but going into every new role with the acceptance that it might not last. So, like life, you may as well enjoy it while you can.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about making redundancy work for you.
Reframe The Language
‘Redundant’ is a brutal word. But remember that it refers to the role and not you personally.
Say No To Shame
You shouldn’t feel you have to be secretive about what’s happened - tell your colleagues the truth. Own it. If anyone, it’s your employers that should carry the shame for not being able to maintain a role they hired for. And yet so often it’s the individual being made redundant who feels that they have done something wrong or failed. Sod that!
Don’t let redundancy devalue what you have achieved or the amount of work you put in. It all mattered.
It’s better not to ghost a job but to say your goodbyes properly and acknowledge the time you spent there. You can do this by arranging a low-key get-together with the people you were closest to, or by sending notes.
Unfollow colleagues and the company on social media. Take a holiday, travel (if you can), throw yourself into something new.
Opt For A Short Sharp Shock
Although it can feel very abrupt to a job leave suddenly, having experienced both this and having to work a three-months-notice period after being made redundant, I can tell you it’s preferable. Working a long notice is like being dumped, then still living with your ex and spending Christmas with their family. It’s not good for your mental health.
However, if you have to work a long notice period try as best you can to remain professional but begin the process of distancing. Remove work emails from your phone and dissolve your involvement in anything above and beyond your day job.
The whole process can be very cold and official - suddenly your boss, who you may have been pally with, is having to follow strict HR protocols. Counteract this by surrounding yourself with friends, to share the load and fill life outside of work with people and experiences that make you feel good.
This can be hard if you’re angry about having lost your job. But it’s not easy making someone redundant and often the decision will be out of the hands of the people actually having to deliver you the news. Don’t take it out on them.
If you are lucky enough to get some money out of the experience, buy yourself something to acknowledge its significance in your life. Or (probably more sensible than buying a Gucci watch as I once did) put it towards your next move – studying, travelling, starting your own business.
Use this as an opportunity to reassess what you really want from a career. There are no such things as jobs for life anymore and the likelihood is, redundancy will happen again in future. But now you’re prepared for it the ‘fear’ won’t ever affect you in the same way again. Have confidence in your abilities and trust that while you may face short term difficulties, particularly with financial stability, you will move onwards and upwards. You are anything but redundant.
We have launched the Digital Sisterhood to provide women everywhere with the community and support they need at the moment. Be that a safe space to ask questions – and receive honest answers – or somewhere to find a digital event that will offer you the information, or perhaps the encouragement, you need to get you through the coming days and weeks. We’re here for you, so please do head to digital.allbrightcollective.com to claim your 14 day free trial and join our community.