You're not redundant, the job is

By Val Leveson

Redundancy can mean different things for different people - for some it's an opportunity to do something new and more meaningful than the job they're leaving; for others is can be devastating, difficult to deal with and recover from.

Of course age, stage and demand for your specific skillset come into the equation, but the most important thing probably is not to see yourself as a "victim" but as someone who is looking for the next step in your career and life. Understanding your strengths and resilience is an important part of getting through.

Here are some tips in dealing with redundancy:

You're allowed to grieve

Losing a job can be a "disenfranchised grief". This means that it's not necessarily community supported. People think you should be able to get up straight away and "deal with it" by getting your CV out there and focusing on the future. Sometimes we need time to acknowledge that losing a job can be hugely painful. After all, for many people their job and position is something that gives their life meaning and a sense of identity. Losing that can be devastating, never mind losing a reliable income.

The grief is also about losing your "work family", people you've seen day after day for perhaps years. Redundancy can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety about the future and even depression.

If this is the way you're feeling, it may be good to engage with the counselling services many companies offer staff they're making redundant - talking things through can be helpful.

If the usual three sessions offered by these services do not seem to be enough to work through what you're experiencing, it may be helpful for you to embark on grief or other counselling.

Consider your situation

It's important to take stock of your financial needs - how quickly will you need to get back in the workplace to keep making ends meet?

Do you need to visit Work and Income so you know your entitlement and where you stand on that too?

If you have a partner, work through your expenses together. What "luxuries" can go for now and what do you need to keep going?

If you have a redundancy payout, it's best to pay credit cards and high-interest loans first.

Make sure you have double-checked your work contract - is the company paying you out everything to which you're entitled?

Be realistic about your chances of finding new work quickly - rather estimate this on the pessimistic side so you don't fall short.

It's important for job seekers to see looking for a job as their job but, especially for people who have been made redundant, the process can feel arduous, rejecting and debilitating. Working with a career coach can help and if you can't afford that, asking a friend or partner to help you keep focused can be useful.

If you don't find work quickly, it may be a good idea to consider volunteering - this can help with creating new references that can lead to work contacts and also give you a feeling of worth, of "doing something".

Volunteering can be particularly helpful if you're considering retraining - it's a good way to get to know a field before committing to student fees.

Is this a hurdle or an opportunity?

For some, redundancy can be an opportunity to work out what they really, really want to be doing in their work life. It's important to be realistic about what's going on in your industry - is there still growth and opportunity? It's not unusual for people to retrain or to take stock of their transferable skills and move to another line of work.

The book What Colour is Your Parachute is among many that can be a helpful guide for this exploration.

You could decide to work independently, become a consultant or turn a loved hobby into earning potential. Doing temp work while you're looking for a more permanent job can be helpful too.

Questions to ask yourself are: how satisfied were you in the work you were doing? What is the future potential of your industry? Do you want to look for something similar or to do something a bit or a lot different? Do you need to retrain? For some it may be about getting a job in the same field while embarking on extra study to slowly move away from it into something that's more satisfying and perhaps more secure.

Make sure your job-seeking tools are working for you

Check your CV - does it truly represent what you have to offer a company? Is it answering the questions the advertisement for the job you're seeking is asking? Sometimes a professional CV writer can be helpful -- but make sure you're choosing someone who knows your industry and double-check what they have written (grammar and spelling too).

Are you on LinkedIn and is it important for the work you're seeking that you are? How up to date is your LinkedIn profile? Do you know how to use LinkedIn well so it's working for you?

What about offline networking as well as online -- do people who can recommend you or even hire you know you're looking for work? Is there someone in your community who can help?

What about your interview skills? Do you need to read up on what to bring to an interview or do you need practice in this area? How do you represent yourself -- it's important not to seem desperate but to still seem really interested in the company and job on offer.

Make sure you are taking care of yourself

As mentioned before, being made redundant can be devastating and it's not unusual for people to fall into a place of isolation and feelings of helplessness. It's important to keep calm and focus on future direction. Redundancy can be an opportunity. Keep up your exercising, or take up exercising; ensure you are eating healthily and that you are getting the sleep you need.

Make sure you have someone to talk to and you're not holding things in in your head. Negative thought patterns can be harmful and have you feeling more helpless and hopeless.

Remember it's your job that's been made redundant, not you.

Val Leveson is an Auckland-based counsellor

- NZ Herald

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