Having your position made redundant can leave you wondering – what do I do now? We asked two career coaches for their best advice on the next steps you could take.
Research conducted on behalf of SEEK shows that 35% of people have been made redundant at some point. For most people, the initial wave of emotion that follows a redundancy can be pretty overwhelming, says Karen Thomas, Co-Director of Transition Hub. “Shock, anxiety and fear are often the immediate reactions, which are typically followed by a loss of confidence and sense of identity,” she says.
But redundancy can also be a time of great opportunity, says Karen Schmidt, career coach and author. “It often comes with some financial compensation and/or forward notice, making it a great time to take stock and explore your options moving forward, whether you decide to look for a similar role or retrain for something completely different.”
Here, the coaches share their advice on how to handle the period following redundancy, and the positive steps you can take to make the most of this time.
- Get a clear picture of your finances
A key reason many feel the fear after a redundancy notice is not knowing where or when their next pay cheque is coming from, Schmidt says. If you don’t already have a detailed budget, it’s a great time to put pen to paper. You can also read the advice the government provides on redundancy.
- Consider temporary work
Some people might make a quick step from one job to the next after a redundancy. But for those looking to explore options, or people working in industries that are slow to find work in, a temporary gig such as a short-term contract could be the answer.
“A temporary job can be great for buying you breathing space, and it also offers structure to your week, which is important when it comes to staying motivated,” Schmidt says.
- Take stock
Think about what you loved and loathed about your last position, so you can move forward with a clear vision of what you do and don’t want your next job to look like, Schmidt says.
Take the chance to review your role and industry, too. “I’ve seen people made redundant from similar roles two or three times in a row – not because of their skill or performance, but because the role has become obsolete,” she says. This doesn’t have to mean finding a whole new industry, it may just mean a sideways shift, or finding a job that offers similar tasks, or addresses a similar interest for you, in a more ‘future proof’ position.
- Consider a career change if you’re not happy
If you’ve found yourself in work you feel less than passionately about, Schmidt says post redundancy can be a great opportunity to reassess your career.
“I’ve seen people pivot in small ways following a thorough review – maybe they decided they liked the industry or the position, but wanted to work somewhere smaller scale, or as a consultant or use the skills they have to become a teacher or trainer in their field,” she says.
“Others decide they’d like to pursue a career in something completely different. In that case, I recommend seeing a career coach to ensure you have a full grasp of what the new industry may involve and how your expectations align with reality. They can also help tease out other potential options if you are truly stuck about what you want to come next.”
- Find opportunities to upskill
If possible, seek out training opportunities to strengthen weaknesses in your resume and skill set or help you transition to a new field or role. There are plenty of online and short courses across a broad range of fields, Thomas says. Look for industry-recognised training providers before you invest your time and money.
- Find a new crew
Feeling connected and part of a community is critical to navigating career transition safely, Thomas says. Redundancy can be a time when we struggle to stay positive, and isolation can be the enemy of good mental health, she explains. Ensure you make time every week to stay in touch with people that lift your mood – bonus points if they can talk shop and career opportunities with you!
- Practice how you’ll address your redundancy in future interviews
Schmidt says redundancies are increasingly common, and unlike a dismissal, they’re about the company’s changing needs and not your performance. That said, it can sometimes feel hard not to take a redundancy personally. “Chat to a professional if you are struggling; a career coach may help, or a psychologist may be your best bet for rebuilding your confidence,” Schmidt says.
It’s equally important to reframe how you talk about your redundancy to yourself and others – something worth practicing before you start interviewing for work, Thomas says. “Be open, honest and position your redundancy within the context or organisational changes and restructuring to alleviate any concern of under-performance,” she says.
Thomas says it’s time we remove any social stigma that surrounds redundancy and embrace transition as a critical part of organisational and personal renewal. It’s worth noting that 86% of hirers said that a candidate being made redundant in their previous role wasn’t a negative – either not influencing their decision when hiring the person (75%) or making them more likely to hire the person (11%).
Redundancy doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It can actually be an excellent time to channel anxiety or stress into proactive steps like exploring new roles and companies, considering a career change, or undertaking training or education.