“When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” “When one door closes, another will open.”
These are just some of the quotations that we are familiar with, words used to console ourselves in the face of adversity. But we all know that it is easier said than done. After all, when that adversity is being made redundant, or losing your only means of livelihood. And when you know there is a mortgage to be paid, young family to support, it can be daunting.
In times like these we need more than a few quotations to see us through. We need a strong faith and belief in something other than ourselves that will guide and take us to that positive destination. For me that is my faith and belief in a God who not only created me, but who promised, that he would never take me to a place where I cannot survive.
And so it was on the 31st of July 2009, after several months of due diligence, and consultations and toings and froings with management and trade unions that I switched off my computer for the last time.
By the time I had packed away the last items from my desk and walked away from the building where I had worked for nearly twenty years, I knew there and then, that I wanted to do something completely different with my life. I wanted to tap into my creative skills and talents, and to use these to provide services that I really enjoyed. I wanted to do things for the good of others in my community, my church, my family, my friends.
Losing your job can be very demoralising, and unless you have the confidence in your abilities, and a strong belief in your self-worth, you may find yourself falling into the clutches of despair. But there is help available and you do not have to go through the process alone. O.K., as far as I am concerned, there is still a lot that could be done to support those people (men and women) over the age of forty who lose their job, but there is still some support available.
If you are faced with redundancy, in most cases, your employer must provide you with support during the process. Some very good employers will offer post redundancy support albeit for a limited period. I would advise you to take up all available offers of help.
I do not want to make it sound too simplistic, because there will be ups and downs. Particularly, during the first few weeks/months that you are at home thinking about what you are actually going to do or how you are actually going to go about achieving the goals that you have set yourself. But with a strong will and enough determination and lots of patience, you can get there. I speak from experience, and I will briefly share some of these experiences with you here in the form of some do’s and dont’s.
Things to do before, during and after losing your job through redundancy or otherwise:
- Do take all the available help from your employers. Use this time to ask as many questions you like about the redundancy or circumstances surrounding your job loss, your employers are legally obliged to give you adequate support during the process;
- Do complete a skills audit, think about all the things you are good at, the things you enjoy doing and the skills that you might need to upgrade. I wish I had actually done this whilst I was still in employment, because there is a wealth of opportunity for you to make a living from your skills whilst still in employment. For example, if you are good at cake baking but your paid job is being an accountant, you could set up a cake business and earn extra income outside of your 9 to 5 job!
- Do update your current cv or prepare a cv if you haven’t already got one. CV’s have become hugely competitive tools, especially in the current job climate and you may need help with perfecting your CV, particularly if it’s your first time of putting one together. There is a very good book on the market 7 Keys to a Winning CV by Mildred Talabi, ISBN 978-0857191588 available from Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith and other good bookstores which you might find very useful.
- Do not bury your head in the sand. Face up to your situation and talk about it to whoever you feel comfortable, your work colleagues, your family, your friends, employer advisors etc. The more you confront the situation, the stronger you will become in dealing with the issues that need sorting out;
- Do let people you know aware of your impending situation. They might be able to offer you help in so many different ways. If they don’t know, they can’t help;
- Do embark on personal development – if you don’t invest in yourself, no one else will;
- Do network – there are a variety of ways of networking for free, contrary to popular belief. Fact is, it is not what you know, but who you know. You will not get that new job, or launch your business by staying indoors.
- Do form good habits in the early days when you are at home. Advice on this issue tends to differ, but I would recommend that you do not become a slob or a couch potato. Form the habit of getting up at a reasonable time each day, and dressing as if you were going outside of your home, even if it is down to the shops. Slopping around in your dressing gown all day, will not do your self-esteem any good, and will not stand you in good stead when it is time to go back out to work. It is very easy to develop bad habits!
- Do keep your spirits up – a positive outlook will take you far. A prospective employer or prospective customer will not appreciate it if you are negative about what or how you are presenting.
- And finally, remind yourself daily that no matter how dire the situation might seem two things remain true: ‘there is life after redundancy’ and ‘this too will pass!’
Copyright 2012 Cay Moore All rights reserved