A Conversation for Coping With Redundancy

A few answers

Post 1

kelli - ran 2 miles a day for 2012, aiming for the same for 2013

I was made redundant from my first real post-university job for christmas 2001. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that at the time it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. My self-esteem plummetted and I felt utterly useless. I was also pretty young (27) and felt that was stupidly early to be cast onto the scrapheap. What a failure.

Talking to people here helped me get a bit of perspective. A wise girl/biddy/broad helped me to see that much of my unhappiness was grief - grief for the expected and planned-for future that had been taken away. I had to allow myself to go through the grieving process and not be too hard on myself for feeling that way.

I needed some distance and to get my balance back and I suddenly found myself in a position to take some time out with a little bit of money in my pocket - I finally had the opportunity to travel a little. All through school and uni I worked in the holidays to afford the books/rent/etc (and beer, I admit it) for my studies and for the first time I ws really free to do whatever I wanted. Obviously things would have been different if I had a family to support but I could afford to be a bit selfish for once. i took off for a month and started jobhunting when I returned. I was lucky and found employment quickly - although I had palns in place for what to do if the search took a long time.

Many of my colleagues took the opportunity to go back to study, or change career path entirely (one female IT worker has retrained as a plumber!). Looking back the effect of my redundancy was a positive one, but it *was* devastating at the time.

So, to the questions:
How can you best deal with the initial news?
There is no best way - try not to do anything too self-destructive and be kind to yourself. Get some friends or family around you and do whatever it is you do for comfort. Don't be tempted to do anything in retaliation - you don't want to be in court being described as a disgruntled ex-employee at any point. Plus you might be able to use contacts in the company to help you find a new job. It isn't unheard of for companies to re-hire redundant staff when they have weathered their current financial problems so don't burn any bridges.

How to constructively use your remaining work time while seeing out your notice in your present job?
Write and distribute your CV. Get surfing on employment websites, find some employment agencies and get on their books. Use all the facilities you don't have at home. Make sure that you have contact numbers for as many colleagues as possible, preferably not work numbers, they will be a useful network of contacts in future.

How do you make sure you get a fair deal from your company?
I didn't have too many problems here - there are some government websites specifying the minimum payments but some companies will do their best to pay as little as possible. They may have a consultation phase where the package is agreed. Get involved, talk to your rep, get your views heard even if you don't think it will be you tht goes. Use your union.

How should you use/invest/spend your redundancy money wisely?
I set some aside for my trip and everything else went into savings. My next job was as a contractor so I had to set up my own company - I was able to use the money to set up the company and buy the things I needed (car, computer) to operate.

How should you rebuild your self confidence after redundancy?
This is tricky. Taking positive steps to find another job helps, even if you feel a bit like a useless fraud while you talk yourself up on the cv/application form. Try to keep busy - the temptation to lie in bed and wallow in misery is very strong, but after indulging in it for a little while (see comment about being kind to yourself and grieving - you are allowed to feel miserable), get out and do something. Anything to get you up and about - walk somewhere, visit people, get to the gym, anything. You could set yourself a project (maybe finish that diy task you haven't got around to or something) and work at it. It really helps you to feel useful and effective to be able to do something positive.

How can family and friends help with someone who has been made redundant?
Become saints with endless patience (thanks everyone). Staying positive and not blaming you. Realise that unhappy moods and niggly behaviour is not aimed at you, it is an expression of the newly-redundant person's unhappiness and frustration.

What's the best way of deciding what to do next?
What should your short- and long-term goals be?
Difficult to answer this for anyone else - although I was recommended a book to work through - 'What Colour is my parachute' that is a structured way of thinking about your career and future. I'll happily pass on the recommendation.

How should you explain your redundancy to your next employer?
As it is much more common these days it doesn't hold anything like the stigma it used to have. In my case I told the truth, but added that I was glad of the chance to pursue other interests/challenges/roles etc etc etc while emphasising how much I had learned with my previous employer that I could carry to any future employer.

Hope some of this helps, I may come back and add more when I think of it...

smiley - puffk

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