I've lost my job, now what?

Firstly, I am sorry to hear that you have lost your job.  You worked hard.  You invested a lot of effort, and sacrificed time and emotion into that role.  You may not realise it, but you have a lot to offer and have highly transferrable skills.  Losing your job doesn’t define you; however it does provide you with an opportunity to reshape your career.  As difficult as it sounds, it is how you embrace this situation that really matters. You need to stay focused, recognise that the skills you have are valuable and it will not be long before you are “back in the saddle”. 

I have also recently just been made redundant for the second time in my career.  The first time I was a graduate with Arthur Andersen which collapsed following the Enron debacle.  This time around I was in a completely different position as the General Manager Operations (Deputy CEO) of a not-for-profit organisation with 60+ staff.  With a shift in government policy, the organisation lost all funding and was left with no choice but to wind up operations in 6 weeks.  

Despite having gone through this process before and also having worked in insolvency myself for quite a few years, this recent period has been one of the most challenging stages of my career.  It is different when you are inside the tent - when you lose your job. 

It is the same but also different when you are in a senior role.  Effectively leading staff through this period is more important than ever.  Every day, where I could, I made a conscious effort to support staff despite all the upheaval and uncertainty.  Going back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we are all human beings and deserve a safe environment.  It might be unsecure, but it can still be safe.  Navigating this path can be hard for some in senior roles, whereas for others it comes easy.  Doing all this whilst continuing to deliver upon statutory obligations, plan for your own future career – piece of cake?  I don’t think so. 

Having gone through the process now twice in different stages of my career, I have learnt a lot.

What have I learnt?

1.          Understand the facts - Try not to panic.  Easy to say, hard to do - I know this first hand!  Ask questions to understand why are you being made redundant, when does this take effect, what is your notice period, what are your employee entitlements and so forth?  Get the facts in writing from your employer.  Clarify any points which you don’t understand, are vague or don’t make sense.  Take time to absorb it.

2.          Get advice – Once you get the facts seek advice where you feel that you need it.  Depending on your situation you may consider talking to trusted friends and family, seeking professional legal or financial planning advice and / or notifying your union representatives (if you have one).  

3.          Recognise the trauma that you are going through – So often people do not release the significance of what they are going through.  Job loss is a significant emotional trauma for most people. Unless you’ve been through it, it’s hard to comprehend it.  The Kubler-Ross model (or otherwise known as the 5 stages of grief) helped me to better understand where I was at – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  Surround yourself with friends and family which will provide you with unconditional positive regard and that ‘safe’ environment I mentioned earlier.  Consider utilising the services of your employee counselling service if they have one, or formally asking for support if there isn’t anything in existence.  And finally, recognise when you need professional support and therapy – there are services and skilled people out there to help you get through all of this. 

4.          End on a high note – It is important to ensure that you finish in this role with grace and professionalism.  Your personal brand is at stake here.  It is a tough period that you are going through, there’s no doubt about it.  However being true to your core values in this process will ensure you in good stead into the future.  Don’t forget that it’s a small world – based on the six (6) degrees of separation theory you will come across a colleague or customer somewhere in the future.  How do you want them to remember you?  Also just a reminder, you will probably need a reference after all this is over – best to ensure you keep putting your best foot forward.

5.          Invest and support yourself - More than ever it is important for you to stop and invest and support yourself.  Take stock of your career plan – rather than applying for every job under the sun, what do you want to do?  What is your competitive edge? Are you prepared and equipped to put your best foot forward?  Effectively use this time to embrace the next chapter and be the boss of your career.

Where to next for me?  I want to encourage people to discover the height of their strengths, empower people to overcome self-doubt and inspire people to build a career that they are passionate about.

I am courageous.  I have backed myself, embraced my own strengths and taken a calculated risk in founding Career Inside Track – a highly professional and very practical coaching service for people no matter the stage of their career.  My compassionate, encouraging and enthusiastic, yet downright honest and flexible, approach will ensure that you get a competitive edge, put your best foot forward and be the boss of your career.