Maybe you sensed it coming or maybe it felt like you’ve just been side swiped with the news, that the company has had to restructure and your role has now been made redundant. After investing your time and skills with your employer, for possibly years, your role is no longer required. You may be experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions including denial, anger, shame or loss. For those looking for a change, you may also feel relieved.
Even when the news is welcome, when redundancy happens in your mid to late career, it could bring up all the doubts and questions. How employable am I? How will I cope with so much disruption at my age? It can bring to the surface all the concerns you may been able to ignore within the security of employment. While redundancy can be a period of upheaval, it can also be an opportunity to create a new beginning by stepping back, assess what’s working well and where you may want to make some changes. I’ve seen clients transition successfully to a better working environment, change careers, create a portfolio career, start consulting, set up their own business as well as take the next step on a linear career path.
How can I thrive after a redundancy?
1. Take stock
You will need another job or way of earning a living but resist accepting the first opportunity if it only meets the need to have a job rather than it being the right one. Making a poor career move at a later career stage can be more difficult to recover from than in an earlier career phase. By understanding what you want and then being able to articulate the value of your experience, increases the possibility of finding it, whether it’s career progression, different work culture or industry or a complete career change. Being able to tell your career story and the value you can bring with confidence and concisely is a great opening pitch.
2. Are you adaptable to the future of work
Do you have the skills that are valuable to your industry or other industrys being disrupted? Are you adaptable and open to learn new skills or even reinvent yourself? Do you need to upskill or educate yourself on the changing market? To future proof yourself and demonstrate value, stay aware of what’s ahead and then be ready to adapt and adjust to the changing times. Stay curious and open, opportunities can come from the most unlikely places.
3. Broaden your focus
Restructures occur due to shifts in an industry or organisation. You may have had a very successful career, but disruption through the industry may be an indication your role no longer exists at the same level or as the same role description. Focusing on a direct side step into a competitor may not be the most viable option. Consider other industries that are changing and growing that may be your new target market.
4. Network, Network, Network
More roles are filled through the hidden job market than through public advertisements. If you are mid to late career then you have a professional network even if you don’t recognise it. For some networking has been integral to their professional careers but for others you’ve been so busy working, it hasn’t been a focus. If you have positive professional relationships, reach out to them and be clear about the assistance you’re looking for. Your contacts are a rich source of inside information, advice and referrals. If done well, people are willing to help and you may be able to repay the favour one day.
5. Embrace your age and experience
Ageing is the only thing that hopefully will happen to us all but sadly we too often feel we need to hide it. Employers value certain characteristics regardless of age. Confidence, communication, adaptability and experience are all ageless. Culture fit is also a key ingredient so consider where you may be a good fit. While the major corporations or latest tech platform seem like the ideal employer, have you considered the hidden market of thriving but less visable companies in desperate need of your skills?
6. Practice self-care every day
It can be a shock going from having each day clearly mapped out to suddenly an empty diary. To look after your own wellbeing through this period of uncertainty you need to have a solid personal foundation. Create a daily and weekly schedule to incorporate four aspects:
– Social connection with others whether it’s a group activity, coffee meet ups or lunch with like minded and supportive people. Focus on people that help you feel good about yourself and your situation.
– Financial confidence – Get clear and if needed, get advice on your financial circumstances. How long will you be okay without another income source? How well are you managing your money to create a sense of security?
– Physical activity every day, whatever your preference; walk, run, yoga, swim, group activity, whatever makes you feel good. Research has shown time and again the benefits of physical activity on managing stress and anxiety that comes from uncertainty.
– Intellectual stimulation – Being out of the daily stimulation of work, you can start to feel you’re losing your edge in your communication or speed of thought. Do a short course, schedule in reading time or arrange to catch up with a contact that stretches your thinking.
7. Make the most of it
There is always a project or interest that you may have sidelined because you didn’t have time while you were busy working. Trust that you will be working again soon enough and take this opportunity factor in a break, spending time with family, focusing on your health, try a hobby or do a project around the house.
8. Use professional support
If you are offered an outplacement program by your employer, make the most of it. The sooner you engage in the process to support a positive transition following your redundancy, the more confident you’ll feel about your future.
Redundancy is a common event and almost everyone has been touched by it in some way. While every change is an opportunity, of course it will have its challenges but by taking the actions to manage through this time of uncertainty, time and again I’ve heard people say it was the best thing that could have happened to them.