Redundancy: How to come up smelling of roses on someone else's dime
A couple of months ago my boss called me to tell me that his role was being made redundant after seven great years with the company. As we chatted I told him that I thought that redundancy was the universe's way of giving you a kick up the butt to go out and find something that you love to do, and although it probably didn’t feel like it, it was possible this was going to be the best thing that would happen to him.
When my position was also made redundant less than two hours later I had to remind myself of my words to him, and trust (hope) that I what I’d said to him was true.
But in the short term the reality is pretty different from the pep talk, and much more uncomfortable. A bruised ego to mend, a CV to write, 50 extra hours in the week to fill, a distinct lack of human interaction, and (if you’re pragmatic like I am) the need to secure a new role before you can ‘enjoy’ your freedom from the last.
Although redundancies are sweeping though our industry on a pretty consistent basis, strangely no one's talks openly about it, and that makes it’s hard to get advice, reassurance and perspective in what is a very strange, unsettling time.
I’m not the redundancy oracle by any far stretch, but here’s some tips that friends shared with me, and some lessons that I’ve learnt along my way, that helped me make it through my redundancy with my ego and sanity intact:
- Don’t take it personally. Of course it’s hard not to, but the reality is that it’s not about you, but just a crappy line item decision. Read any industry news and you’ll be reminded that you’re not alone it’s happening all around you.
- Use your network. It’s who you know not what you know has never been truer. Ex-colleagues, recruiters, LinkedIn connections and friends can all help - so ask them to, and let them.
- Sign up for LinkedIn premium. You can let recruiters know you’re actively seeking a role, you can in-mail job posters directly to improve your chances of landing one, and you can get some (dubious) data on what roles you’re a top match for. Probably worth the $39 a month.
- Spend two mornings a week actively looking and applying for jobs, and then step away from the computer. Yep, just two mornings a week. Spending all day trawling through job sites won’t get you a job, but it will stress you out, overwhelm you, and probably drive you crazy
- Do the things you never have time to do when you work full time. Swim in the ocean on a sunny afternoon, cook an Ottolenghi recipe from scratch using all 446 ingredients, wear yoga pants all day, play golf on a Tuesday, and let good friends buy you lunch. When life gives you lemons...
- Don’t let it get you down, and don’t give up.
Sounds easy. It isn’t. Some days are good, some not so good, and some days you want to hide from the world and sulk/cry/drink wine at an unacceptable hour. But it’s all part of a journey that eventually leads you to that amazing new role you never knew existed because you had your head stuck in the sand at your old one (which probably wasn’t even the job you loved when you started it years ago).
A few months of uncertainly that you didn’t plan on might not be the best time in your life while you’re living it, but when you look back it may be exactly that. I know myself and my capacity for resilience better than I did two months ago, I've spent lots of time in the lovely home I worked so hard to buy but never really got to enjoy, I’ve caught up with great friends over long lunches, and I've got a lump sum of cash sitting on the redraw for a rainy day (or a great holiday).
And yes, I’ve also landed a new role that’s perfect for me - one that I would have missed out on if all of this hadn’t happened.
Redundancy. An uncomfortable but strangely wonderful opportunity to reflect, reevaluate and reinvent yourself (on someone else's dime).