I lost my job last week. A tap on the shoulder and a meeting in the HR room was all it took to pour a pit of hot concrete into my stomach with the realisation that, welp, I’m not needed here anymore. I won’t need to make those rush-hour morning commutes, or stay back late during deadlines, or hold in my farts in the lift. I won’t need to do any of those things, because I don’t have a job. So, honestly, what follows is advice that I’m going to need as much as anyone else in this boat. Being made redundant sucks.
Pic via Shutterstock
So let’s pretend we’re good friends. I’ve come to you and I’ve laid it all down, and you look at me and say “Oh Darren, you devilishly handsome chap, that’s a great shirt you’re wearing today.” We talk fashion for a while, compare muscles, and then you look at me and say: Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. Here’s what you need to do.
Yes, you’re allowed to. The sting of losing your job is still fresh, and it hurts, especially if you didn’t see it coming. Being made redundant is a lot different to choosing to leave — maybe you went to a better job, better pay, you wanted a challenge, wanted a break... there are dozens of reasons you might choose to leave, and they’re all down to decisions you made. This? Not your choice. So have those beers (but not too many). Have that ice-cream (but not too much). Put your ex-boss’s face on a dartboard and have it (all you like). Get that grief out of your system. You deserve that much.
...but remember it’s not about you
In the majority of cases deciding who to let go is little more than a company decision, made by looking at spreadsheets rather than souls. There’s little consideration for the people behind the desks: it’s cost-cutting, downsizing, all the corporate lingo. Redundancy isn’t a decision to give ‘you’ the boot, but your role. You’re just the unfortunate casualty. In the chances where it *is* targeted and calculated — where “redundancy” is given inverted commas and used as a mask for the real reason they’re shoving you out the door — that says more about management than you, and really, are they be the sort of people you’d like to continue working for?
Tell your partner
Redundancy is a change that will affect your family, particularly if you’ve got kids. If you’ve got rent or mortgage payments calculated on a two-person income, this will be the first major hurdle you’ll need to discuss. So be honest. Be frank about how this will change the day-to-day flow of your family. This includes the emotional changes, too: in situations such as this, the continued support from a loved one is invaluable.
Tell your friends
Granted, it’s a kick to the nutsack of pride, but being open about your situation with your friends and acquaintances is for the best in the long run. You may find not only a supportive shoulder, but common ground from others who have also been on the redundancy rollercoaster, and can offer advice right when you need it the most. If they’re aware you’re between jobs, your name may come to mind should they happen upon any suitable vacancies in their own companies, or hearing from a friend of a friend that an opening at Company X is coming up.
Call in the professionals
Seriously, stop wallowing. That time has passed. But maybe it hasn’t — maybe you’re finding yourself unable to kick off the funk, and every day you drag yourself out of bed is another day where a full-time job and a regular payslip become distant memories. Days seem duller. Hope seems hopeless. Nothing gives you enjoyment anymore. Friend, you need the kind of help that’s outside my jurisdiction. Don’t be ashamed of looking into services like Lifeline or Beyond Blue, and if things really don’t shake after four weeks or more, check in with your doctor. There’s no shame in seeking help.
Don’t blow that sweet redundancy payout on hats
Retail therapy? Easy, tiger. It might be tempting to look at those digits on your last day at work and spend them on your first day back in the real world. But remember: your payout is what you’ll be living off between now and your next payslip, and you don’t know when that’s coming. Think of your redundancy payout as your lifeboat, and you the castaway hoping to get to land with a flare gun and freeze-dried rations. You’vegot to make this stuff count. Consider paying off any outstanding credit card debts, putting aside what you’ll need to cover any upcoming rent or mortgage payments, and keeping the rest close for necessary bills, food, and sundries. Speaking of which...
Examine your budget
Consider this a perfect time to put a fine tooth comb over your spending habits. How much are you burning on your phone plan? On eating out? On groceries? When was the last time you used your landline? Chances are there’s a range of dormant costs that are leeching your wallet only because you’ve become accustomed to them doing so. In which case, be ruthless — add every dollar you can to your redundancy lifeboat. Shop around for better deals, cancel unneeded services, and cut back on the occasional unnecessaries. This may extend as far as seeking the assistance of a financial planner, or — if you’ve got a mortgage or any outstanding loans — speaking to your bank and seeing about the possibility of a renegotiation or temporary financial relief. Often, through, small changes are enough to add up to some impressive results. Remember, taking just three $5 coffees out of your weekly routine will save you $1560 per a year.
Assess your career path
Rather than jump into a job that’s a carbon copy of your last one, just because you need a job, take this as an opportunity to examine your industry with a wider lens. If cost-cutting was a factor in making your role redundant, perhaps that’s an indication of the relative health of that field? What other areas might be flourishing in their place? What skills have you picked up along the way — are there jobs out there that might allow you to develop those skills further? You may even consider turning postgraduate and taking a course to get even more experience or obtain an altogether new qualification.
Polish that resume
Chances are you haven’t looked at it for years. Not since your last job hunt. Before you complete a single application, reacquaint yourself with Lifehacker’s previous tips and give your CV the once-over. Update it with the skills you’ve learned at your latest job, and take the opportunity to polish up any areas that need attention.
Make a list
You’ve got all the usual job-seeking sites bookmarked, signed up to the email alerts, and you’re circling Help Wanted ads in the newspaper because that’s what they used to do in movies and you want to be certain you’re covering every base. That’s a good start. But Inception this thing and go deeper: work the heck out of looking for work. Write down the contact names, numbers and email addresses of places you’d like to apply. Double-check those names — don’t just rely on info taken from a site that may not have been updated in years. Check with LinkedIn, Twitter bios, or pick up that speaky-talky device and call a company’s front desk to get the details from a real-live person. Then take a systematic approach of going through that list, top to bottom, sending queries and checking off every one. Make notes next to each one noting the outcome and ways you can follow up. Be regimented. Be thorough. It’s all too easy to lose track of where you’ve submitted an application and where those applications are at.
Establish a routine and stick with it
Okay, so you have a little more time on your hands these days. You might spend that time at home remembering what a sleep in is, or marathoning all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone. (The aliens look just like us!) But don’t become the next Howard Hughes. Keep a routine that allots time to go through that killer list you’ve made, as well as incorporate slices of you getting out and about in the fresh air. Take yourself out for a lunch on Mondays, make Wednesdays Walking Day, or make Friday a regular catch up with a mate. In between all that, stick to the job search, but don’t let day blur into night when all you’ve done is tie the drawstring to your trackpants. Make a routine, and keep it up. And no, cataloguing your jars of piss on Thursdays does not count.
Take up a hobby
Keep your mind focused on more than daytime TV and Pizza Shapes. Maybe now is the time to tickle the grey matter with a new hobby; something you’ve always wanted to try but, well, you’ve never had the time. Get into gardening, take up writing, become a hot-shot welder, be that guy at parties who can actually play the ukulele. Want to create the next Cones of Dunshire? Go ahead! If you’re serious about job-hunting it’s important, for the sake of your sanity, to reward yourself with a few hours of an enjoyable pastime.
Be a dear, volunteer
Aside from serving a genuine decent purpose, engaging in volunteer work looks great on a resume — between jobs, it gives you something to list aside from a big black void of employment nothingness. Hit up sites like govolunteer.com.au and choose your jam. Maybe it’s caring for foster kittens. Reading to disadvantaged kids. Helping elderly people make jam. Wouldn’t it be nice to make a stranger’s face smile and get a new feather in your cap?
This can be the hardest step, but it’s perhaps the most important. Being made redundant sucks. It’s an unexpected upheaval in how things used to be and an uncomfortable push into something you may not be entirely prepared for. But attitude and outlook are everything. Consider it a temporary setback rather than the end of everything — the catalyst to change you didn’t realise you needed. Think about everything you didn’t like at your old job. Think about everything you learned. Think about how your cumulative life experience can work towards finding you a better tomorrow, and always — always — remember the importance of friends and family, the ones who matter more than the grump at the photocopier. It’s corny advice, but if you can control your perception to tackle this as an opportunity, you’ll ride those bumps. But don’t listen to me. Listen to Rocky Balboa.
Hey, good friend of mine. That’s some pretty solid advice. You’ve sure got a level head when it comes to this stuff. Maybe you should put it on a blog so others may benefit. Some sort of blog where one can hack their life in amazing ways. Strength in numbers and all that. Together we will learn, and grow, and overcome the dreaded R-word.
Yes, being made redundant sucks. But maybe now it will suck a little less.