TAKING YOUR FIRST STEPS AFTER REDUNDANCY
Losing your job could be a stepping stone to success.
Sadly in today’s world, redundancy is a fact of life. There’s no shame attached. No judgement. That said, when you’ve invested 20+ years in your career, it’s natural to feel upset and angry. But, with the right support, you can bounce back. I have helped hundreds of women in their 40s and 50s to do just that.
The women I’ve worked with have won promotions, or even changed their career entirely and set up businesses after being made redundant. They are living proof that if you believe in your accomplishments and are prepared to challenge the stereotypes, you can come back stronger.
As Oprah said “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction”.
Here’s my action plan for bouncing back.
It’s not personal
The first thing to remember is that although being made redundant feels agonisingly personal, it’s not. It’s the role that’s being made redundant, not you. You haven’t lost your skills, talents, achievements and experience.
It’s important to take some time for yourself – it stops you rushing into major decisions when you’re highly emotional. It’ll also help you avoid blaming individuals or acting out any bitter revenge. You may need a reference and your former colleagues can be a great network for future opportunities.
It’s not easy to embrace setbacks. But one of my favourite career stories is from Lady Gaga. Apparently, when she was dropped from a record label she turned to her grandma for advice. She was told, “I’m going to let you cry for the rest of the day, and then you have to stop crying, and you have to go kick some ass”.
Take micro steps
You might not feel ready to kick ass just yet, but it is important to set realistic goals and stay focussed. Dealing with the emotional repercussions of redundancy can be really challenging. You can start with small confidence-boosting steps such as:
Pinning your list of strengths and achievements somewhere where they’ll act as a constant reminder.
Adding to your skills with part-time or online courses or volunteer work.
Spending time with family and friends or on hobbies and interests that make you feel positive.
Having a supportive network will help you stay confident and optimistic. Most importantly, never be afraid to ask for help. If you’re looking to move in a totally new career direction, a professional coach will help you gain clarity and confidence.
Re-evaluate your career
Redundancy is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate your career to date and what’s important to you now. What are your special talents and values? What did you love about your old job – and what are you privately relieved you no longer have to face each day?
Next on your to-do list is a long, hard, critical look at your CV. If you’ve been with the same company for several years, the chances are it’ll need an overhaul. Listing all your professional and personal achievements is a great start.
What are you most proud of? Did you win new clients, save the company money or build a fantastic team? Write it all down. It’s a huge confidence boost and will look great on your CV.
The recruitment market has changed beyond recognition in the last few years and you’ll likely need to revise your job hunting strategy. Firing off your generic CV to dozens of potential employers might feel like a positive action, but it’s unlikely to lead you to a great opportunity. You’ll need to be a bit more strategic.
Tweak your CV and covering letter for each application. This helps you to demonstrate how you will add value. It will also ensure you’ve got the keywords to get past the Applicant Tracking Systems that 90% of recruiters now use. Echo the phrasing from the job description on your CV, including plural words, abbreviations and numbers (e.g. note whether the company spells it non-profit or nonprofit, or writes ‘three years of experience’ or ‘3 years of experience’).
Leverage your network
If you’ve yet to embrace social media, now is the perfect time. A 100% complete and keyword optimised LinkedIn profile is vital – it’s the biggest business network in the world. Investing in an up-to-date, active and professional profile will definitely pay back.
Face-to-face networking is still important. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a new role, setting up a new business or starting out as a consultant. Friends, family, former colleagues, professional associations and Meetup groups are all great ways to make connections, update your industry knowledge and hear about potential opportunities.
Keeping in touch with your professional world is also essential interview preparation. Getting out there and networking means you’ll be well practised in talking about your key selling points. It’s also worth rehearsing positive, professional responses to questions about your redundancy. And, if you’ve got specific concerns, are out of practise or have anxiety about interviews, consider some professional coaching.
Remember, redundancy is not a reflection on you as a professional, so stay focused, calm and determined. Take a step back, reassess your career direction and remind yourself of your skills and what you have achieved. You still have lots of value and you will bounce back – you might even land a better job or a whole new career.
Words: Victoria McLean aka the CV Queen, founder & CEO of City CV.