Your position has been made redundant, what now?

I remember when the global financial crisis happened in 2009, I was working as an Administrator for a national events company. Our General Manager from Brisbane came into the office one day while a couple of my colleagues were overseas working on a conference in Hong Kong. As the General Manager would visit periodically for business I didn’t think anything unusual of the situation and then she told me she wanted to have a private chat later that afternoon.

That was when the bomb hit. My role was no longer going to continue within the company and I was being let go. Right at that moment. Now. ‘You will need to pack up your things and leave immediately. Do you have family or anyone that you can see at this time?’ I remember her saying. I was single and my parents lived about an hour and a half away so my cab fare home was covered by the company which was nice. But was I shocked? Yes. Did I have to explain to my parents and others that I had been let go? Yes. Did I feel devastated? Yes.

I couldn’t help but ask if it was my performance or anything that I had done that led to the final decision. I was relieved to find out that they were more than satisfied with the hard work and effort that I had put into the role but due to cost cutting they could no longer afford to have my role continue. IT had logged me off of my computer and I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to all of the colleagues that I had worked with for those two years. Regardless of being told it wasn’t my performance that affected the decision, I still couldn’t help but feel miserable, I went home and I cried.

After wallowing in self-pity it finally occurred to me that as this was a national company, all of the women in the other state offices that shared my role were going to be made redundant as well. It made me realise how hard it must be to be the manager and having to look at each staff member in the face and deliver this bad news. But with any role in leadership you need to make the decisions for good of your company and your staff.

Keeping that in mind I made an executive decision. I asked if I could come in the next day and finalise a handover of all of the events that I was working on so that none of my team members were left out of the loop when they returned from their conference. I could have naturally turned my back on the company and had a bitter attitude towards them and the situation but who really benefits from that in the end?

The next stages I went through were feelings of anxiety over no longer having financial security and not only that, but how was I going to find a new role during the GFC?

We all react differently to stress and shock, for me what I think helped:

Talk to friends/family and people you know – It doesn’t have to be a secret, remember it is not your fault that you are in this position and there is no point in isolating yourself when you have people around you that care about you and can offer support. Not only that but they may have heard about potential new job opportunities or have contacts that you can get in touch with to help get you back on track. It is amazing what word of mouth can do!

Take advantage of outplacement services – if your company offers you an outplacement service, take advantage of this option to have a professional assist you with your job search skills, resume review, interview skills and career planning. They can also be a sounding board if your job search stalls.

Keep yourself on track and keep setting a routine – Keep normal sleep patterns, you don’t want to sleep through the day because you are lacking motivation or self-confidence. Eat healthy, exercise, keep yourself at your best so that when new opportunities present themselves you will be your best. Like the famous saying ‘you are what you eat’, if you are sluggish, tired and not looking after yourself, people will notice and it will affect your performance/outcome.

Set daily goals, tasks, things that you want to achieve – Whether it is personal goals or writing down how many jobs you would like to apply for in a day, it is important to have something that drives you. When you are lacking motivation it can be easy to distract yourself or procrastinate from more productive tasks – e.g. watching television, going on Facebook all the time, napping, etc. Take the opportunity to realise that you have all of this free time to do things that you may not have had the chance to do before. Time is often limited so take this gift of free time and make the most of it!

Educate yourself – Research more on how you can advance your skills, read more news items and publications to learn more about your industry and the world economy. Seek career guidance and mentors that can help lead you on track with your career. You are never too old or young to keep learning something new. And who knows where that knowledge could take you?

Be patient – You may not get a call back from the first new role you apply for. Keep going, keep your options open, and follow up.

It took me at least a month of applying for jobs before I found that next role for me. That didn’t mean I wasn’t nervous and anxious after not hearing back after applications and interviews but I still had to have faith in something better to come along, and confidence in myself that I would get the next role that suited me.

Did I fear that this type of situation could potentially happen to me again? Yes, but I wasn’t going to let that fear of rejection hold me back from a new opportunity. Why? Because we all have to face risks whether it’s in our personal or professional life. They will knock us back, hurt us, make us feel defeated. But it is a chance to get back up and start fresh, learn from past mistakes, and move on.

If this has just happened to you and you are still feeling negative and bitter about the whole experience, it’s understandable, but talk to someone and work through the issues so that you can become ready to face what is to come.

In the words of Ghandi: “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour. Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”