Speaking with a friend yesterday (let’s call him Ted), we found that they had just been made redundant. Ted, and a number of others colleagues were made redundant, and were then given 15 minutes to collect their belongings and go. Whilst they were given the appropriate payouts, it was still a difficult experience, especially so close to the Christmas and New Years holiday season. Ted had been working for a mining services company, and with the downturn in the Australian resources sector, it was not surprising that his company was downsizing their operations and retrenching staff. Still it sucks. It really sucks. It’s hard not to get angry, not to take it personally, and to worry about the future; it can be hard and scary to work out how to get back on the horse.
What we found with our friend Ted, was that this was really an opportunity in disguise: he had been looking for an opportunity to move out of the resources industry and into a more fulfilling line of work, and this was the push he needed. Interestingly, we have found that many CSR, NFP and sustainability professionals made the move to a more meaningful vocation, after being made redundant – it forced them to find the courage to make a change.
Making this transition can be very difficult, and given the bearish labour market we are currently seeing, more and more professionals are being forced to reconsider their options, their industry and their career path. In the event that you do experience redundancy, here are some tips to help you manage your sanity, reputation and career in the process.
1. Know your rights and entitlements.
Often, as with our friend Ted, you will be asked to move on immediately – so as to prevent sensitive information being stolen, and also to prevent crazy revenge plots from sabotaging the company’s operations. Seriously, it does happen. In Australia, if you are employed on a full time basis you are entitled to severance pay (this doesn’t apply to casual workers and some small businesses). Make sure that in the event of being made redundant that you find out about your entitlements. If you have to sign anything, make sure you read everything carefully – there is no need to rush. To find out the rules around redundancies, check your contract and/or go to the FairWork Ombudsman Website.
2. Keep your bridges intact.
You’ve just been told you’ve been made redundant. As our friend Emperor Kuzco says in the clip below: “Your department’s being downsized, you’re part of an outplacement, we’re going in a different direction”. Any of those will make you feel enraged and powerless and prone to saying or doing something you regret. The mark of a true professional, is to take setbacks and rejection gracefully. It is in these situations that we garner the most respect, and if, down the track you need references for a new job, your old boss is more likely to assist if you were nice and didn’t throw a bucket of disgruntled spiders in his/her face. Keep your cool, ask for an explanation, and leave on good terms.
3. Remember you’re not the only one.
As we’ve seen over the last few years, redundancies (especially in the resources sector) are happening more and more. It is not anything to be ashamed about; it is not about you, it is about your (former) company not having the resources to be able to keep you on board. Although difficult, try to keep in mind that this is not directed personally at you, and that it will not affect your reputation or your career prospects moving forward. When you find that next opportunity, be open about your redundancy – it will engender trust with potential employers. Finally, remember you are a professional, and that this was a business decision; treat it as such.
4. Take some time to think about your next step.
Although it will be tempting, don’t rush into anything unprepared. Sure you have financial commitments, but you need to make your next move the right one. Sit back, relax and plan out/research the following:
- The state of your current industry. Are there jobs available in your current industry?
- Make a list of your skills, and abilities. Going through your old job descriptions and talking it through with someone can help.
- Work out which skills are transferable to other industries. Can you broaden your parameters?
- Start to research possible companies you think you could work for, and the sorts of roles they might have available.
- Plan out a step by step plan, with goals over the next 1, 3 and 6 month periods. Enact that plan.
5. Use your networks.
Now is the time to lean on those around you. Family, friends, former colleagues, old clients, acquaitances, enemies (ok maybe not enemies) will all be willing to help out. Quite often serendipity steps in and helps out; these people could know of opportunities, or might be able to introduce you to someone who can help. It’s also a good time to expand your networks. Approach other, more senior professionals in your current/new field to get their take on market conditions, and where might be a good place to look for opportunities. accommodating. If you defer to their experience, people will be happy to share their expertise and advice, and to perhaps share your details with other people. Use this downtime to build your networks and use that to create your next opportunity.
6. Use LinkedIn and Seek.
LinkedIn and Seek are fanntastic tools. Recruiters and headhunters use LinkedIn regularly, so make sure you update your LinkedIn Profile with all your relevant information and photo – but please PLEASE use a professional photo, not one that captures your unbridled enthusiasm for sunsets, fishing or going to the races. JUST DON’T DO IT. People will think you are a bit of a crackpot and don’t know the meaning of the word “professional”. Don’t be afraid to connect with people from the companies that you have researched or that you think could be good to network with. Use it to reconnect with old colleagues and clients and use this remarkable tool to build your professional profile. Start writing professional pieces, join groups and get noticed.
The other side of the online coin is SEEK. Sure, go ahead and apply for as many jobs as you want – you do run the risk of perhaps running too fast into something that might not be the best fit. We’ll let you in on a little secret: there are other ways of using SEEK. Firstly, if you register, and add your CV to their system (for free) you effectively become searchable for thousands of recruiters that use SEEK as an applicant database. They can search by industry, experience and salary brackets (among other parameters), so it’s a great way to let your CV actively work for you. Additionally, SEEK does a lot of market research into industry movements and numbers of jobseekers etc. You can see their latest research in their SEEK Job Insights section.
Remember, it’s not the end of the world – it could be the start of a fantastic new journey for you. Be open to new opportunities and make sure the next role you take is the right one, not one taken out of panic and desperation. Take a deep breath, take charge and shape your own path.