How To Navigate Redundancy (Emotionally & Realistically)

It’s fair to say it’s taken me a while to write this post. 10 months to be exact. It’s been one of those ideas that I scribbled on my list of possible features, revisited it month after month, yet continually put off. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting closer to my first-year-in-business anniversary that I feel like I have the authority to speak on being made redundant now?

On the 19th March 2018, I was told I was being made redundant from a position I’d worked close to 10 years in. A whole department was asked to leave the office that day and I remember sitting in the pub after in disbelief. Everyone goes for the obligatory pint when something major happens at work, right?

It was a shock (I remember my body shaking in the same way it does with grief), but if I’m being brutally honest, I’d been praying for some time for the universe to send me a sign about my next move in life. And what a sign that was.

I was conflicted because not only did I feel immensely sad about not working with people that had become my family, I was also excited for the next chapter to begin. What I’d learn over the next couple of weeks, however, is that these wouldn’t be the only emotions I’d feel as I boarded the redundancy rollercoaster.

I was public from the start about my redundancy and felt zero shame in talking about it. So much so that over the past year I’ve had a number of people approach me privately asking for advice as they find themselves in a similar situation. I accidentally became a poster girl for the positives of losing your job.

So, with this post, I wanted to create a no-bullshit approach to navigating this season in your life. And that’s all it is. A season. Something that will pass and certainly doesn’t need to define you as a person.

First things first…

Work Out The Financials

The first thing that came to mind was my bank balance – or complete lack of it. I live alone and had no other wage to rely on. Balls. However, I had a three-month leave period, on top of garden leave and my actual redundancy payment, so I knew that technically I would be paid the same monthly wage until June (and months after if I budgeted correctly), but I still wanted to get my finances in order as quickly as I could to take an element of stress away.

This is something you might want to do, especially if you’ve been in your company for less than 2 years. According to the government, if you’ve worked there for more than 2 years you’ll normally be entitled to statutory redundancy pay (half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22, one week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older). Find out more details here.

Here are some things I did straight away:

  • I cancelled any unnecessary direct debits (Headspace app, Audible etc) until I was financially stable
  • I compared my utilities with other providers and made any savings I could
  • I moved my two credit cards to one 0% interest card so I had one monthly payment (although this should be done at any point to save money, not just when you’re facing unemployment)
  • Worked out a realistic budget with the minimum for each month needed – this way I knew what I had to do to make sure I kept a roof over my head

Take A Moment To Breathe

As I was on garden leave (where you’re unable to return to the office), the next day I woke up and decided to do absolutely nothing. I took the day off. The rollercoaster of emotions I’d mentioned above kicked in and although I felt happy at the core, I kept bursting into tears. I felt angry one minute. Then excited. Sad, nervous, anxious, elated. You name it, over the next couple of weeks, I felt it.

My life had pretty much been the same routine for the last decade, so change felt nerve-wracking. But I needed that day to decompress and let it all sink in. Although the first thought is to jump straight into the job search, I suggest you take a breather if you can. Just one day for you, no recruitment agencies, no emailing. You have tomorrow for that.

It’s Just Business

Let me start by saying, in realistic terms, yes, sometimes redundancy is about you. But 99% of the time, it’s a business decision the company has had to make and in this climate no-one is indispensable.

It still hurts, and there can be a lot of anger, especially if certain members of staff keep their job who don’t appear to be as invested in the company as you were. But that’s life. Life can be unfair, and the quicker you move on from taking it personally, the better your mental health will fare.

Decide What Your Next Career Move Is

This is where we come to a crossroads. Were you on a career path going in the right direction? If so, that’s amazing and you can start to look for similar roles where you can blossom further.

But if you were in a mediocre job, tired of the Sunday night blues, and you’re unsure of what you really want from life, this is the perfect time to sit and decide your next possible step.

I knew I wanted to run Apartment Number 4 full time. There wasn’t a shadow of a doubt, which is why two days after leaving the office, I woke up at 7am and started my new chapter. However, I get that it’s not that easy for someone who hasn’t been running a side hustle for the last nine years.

Take some time to look at different career options. Do you have the financial ability to take a risk and work for yourself? Or do you want to retrain? Perhaps you to work in the same field but look at different sectors. Talking to a life coach could really help you clear the fog, and taking a regular 9-5 to pay the bills while you decide what your next move is, could be a great compromise. No job has to be your forever job, it can simply be a stepping stone.

Let People In Your Circle Know

Redundancy seems to be such a taboo subject still, but it really needn’t be. Of course, you don’t have to shout from the rooftop, but you do need a support network and telling friends and family can help create this. I wrote on Facebook and Twitter than I was now running Apartment Number 4 full-time and if anyone had copywriting opportunities to let me know.

I also advertised my e-design services and got five new clients that same week. Whether you’re running your own business or looking for a new role, social media has the power to link the right kind of people together.

CV, LinkedIn & Recruitment Agencies

A good tip is to adjust your LinkedIn accordingly. This is even better than searching on social media as the decision makers are more likely to see your profile. I noted that I was open to new opportunities, changed my bio to include key words such as interiors, copywriting and freelance and asked my old work colleagues for testimonials related to what I wanted to pursue next.

For example, my former career as a magazine editor was in the fashion industry, but I asked people to mention about my work with social media, styling, web copy etc as opposed to my experience within menswear per se.

Reach out to contacts you have, explain you’re in search of a new role and if they know of anything suitable to keep you in mind.

Register at recruitment agencies specialising in your field and get job alerts sent daily. I still have interior design/styling jobs sent now because you never know what might crop up in life. Agencies will also be able to get you something part-time or on a contract-basis if that’s what you’re looking for, but be very specific about your salary and location needs. Some recruiters have a habit of sending jobs much lower or higher than you skillset, so be clear on facts before agreeing to interviews.

Finally, make your CV the best you possibly can. There are so many resources online talking about how to craft a winning CV so you don’t need my advice, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t have touched yours in years so refresh it and update with new achievements, qualifications etc.

There Will Be Tough Days

When your job hunting and nothing is happening, it can be really, really difficult. If you’re pitching to potential clients and no-one is picking up those up, you can feel defeated. For years, my career was my “thing” – I travelled a lot, I’d been invited to meet both Royalty and the Prime Minister, I went to Fashion Week, not as a blogger, but as a journalist who gets driven around in a posh BFC car, so on social media it looked like my job was amazing.

I didn’t have kids or a husband but that was fine because I had this “amazing” career. But once that has gone, there were times when I felt like I had no identity. I think this is why I jumped so quickly into self-employment. So I could have my “thing” back.

The one tip I could give is to not sit and wallow. Keep to a routine, make looking for a job, your new job. Get up, get dressed and sit down at your computer the same time every day. Ring agencies, highlight different jobs you like, tailor your CV to each one you apply for.

Your mental health will have already taken a battering, lying in bed and wallowing in self-pity is not the answer. It’s hard, I get it. But a job isn’t going to come knocking on your door.

If an interview doesn’t go well, ask for feedback. Note that feedback and see what you can do to improve for the next time. You just weren’t the right fit, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to fit in elsewhere.

Pitch, Pitch, Network & Pitch

This tip is if you’re going at it alone. The day I started running the blog full-time, I decided I would pitch, email, call and try to network with as many contacts within the industry as possible. I travelled to London and scheduled in various meetings into one day, as well as emailing contacts in my database to let them know about the new exciting chapter for Apartment Number 4. This was such a positive thing and I wanted to shout about it.

I also looked into self-development events in the city on EventBrite, booked myself onto e-courses that I knew would help my businesses and looked at developing more than one revenue stream. In the last year Apartment Number 4 has grown from a blog into a fully-fledged interiors brand, operating a content creation service, a monthly magazine, e-courses, and an interior e-design service.

It’s not my job in the post to tell you how to work out your path in live, but I feel like it is my job to say how amazing is it to follow your dreams.

Deciding that I would give running my own business six months and if it didn’t work out, I would become employed again, gave me an attainable timescale to work to. And don’t forget, like I said before, nothing has to be permanent.

What’s Next After Being Made Redundant?

I wanted to sum up with some parting words really. I didn’t want this post to conclude in a cliché “it will be the best thing that ever happened to you” kind of way. But I can’t help it. It has the potential to be THE BEST thing that’s happened to your career.

Why?

Because it pushes you completely out of your comfort zone. It makes you reassess what you want from life, whether that’s affirming you were totally in the right career, or you want to try something new, and it makes you grow stronger and more resilient.

To see my life as it is now in comparison to before being made redundant is a WTF moment. And no-one made this happen but me. But only because I was pushed to. Would I have made the jump if I wasn’t tipped over the edge of the cliff? I’m not entirely sure, but what I am sure of is that this has the potential to change your life in the best way possible.

*I couldn’t help the cheesy ending, I’m sorry.

Have you ever been made redundant? If it’s something you’re dealing with at the moment, my inbox is always open for a chat, just head to the contact page above and I’ll get straight back to you.

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5 Comments

  1. 3.12.19
    Claire said:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that, I’ve been there myself and it’s hard but you’ve come so far and by telling your story shows that you’ve healed and are loving your choices.

    Great post x

    • 3.13.19

      Thank you so much Claire! It was the best thing that’s ever happened to me looking back and I’m very happy with how my life has changed! 🙂 I hope it can help others see that it’s not all doom and gloom xx

  2. 4.10.19
    Nicola said:

    I was told completely unexpectedly 8 hours ago that I am being made redundant from a career I have spent 22 years in! Once I have finished randomly bursting in to tears, I have a feeling re reading this again may just help. Thank you.

    • 4.11.19

      I’m so sorry to hear from Nicola! I’ve sent you an email anyway so check your junk just in case I’ve gone in there. Sending a big hug over! xx

  3. 8.16.19
    Sophie said:

    I’m currently going through redundancy in my job of 7 years (and my first job), i’m the only one at the company too. Reading this post made me think i’ve been wallowing a bit too much, but i’m also constantly applying for any job that will cover the bills. I do have a illustration/graphic design side hussle but its not really taken off yet and i was wondering if you had any tips?

    Thanks