No matter how it’s phrased, losing your job is a difficult situation to face.
If you’ve been forewarned so that the announcement is not a surprise, you have some time to prepare and plan for your future. Without warning however, it can be shocking and traumatic news to receive.
Of course, each situation is different. Some may welcome the opportunity to cash in on their years of service and try something different! More commonly, whispers of a restructure/layoffs are utterly distressing and surprising.
If you are in the second group, it would be useful to be familiar with the typical stages of grief so that you know what to expect. These are the stages that people experience with any loss.
The stages are:
- Shock / Denial (this can’t be happening!)
- Pain / Guilt (the hurt hits you and is unbearable)
- Anger / Bargaining (it’s all your fault! why me? and bargaining with God to change the situation)
- Depression / Reflection (a period of sadness and reflection but an opportunity to consider the things to be grateful for)
- The Upward Turn / Reconstruction / Acceptance / Hope (coming out of the sadness, solutions start to be considered, acceptance of your new reality and hope for the future).
The stages can be grouped in a few different ways, but are identifiable. Being able to predict them, will help you prevent situations like lashing out at loved ones in anger or using harmful substances to cope with your pain.
In amongst all of this, there are some positive actions you can take too.
For example, being active in your response will make you feel better than being passive. In preparation for obtaining a new job, you could be proactive by doing the following (not in any particular order):
- Review the job market in your field.
- Look at roles that are in demand.
- Consider if you want to switch careers.
- Do some retraining or learn a new skill that is in demand.
- Prepare your resume. Professional resume help may be available through your redundancy package.
- Brush up on your interviewing skills. Help with this may also may be part of your redundancy package.
- Take up any offers of outplacement therapy or coaching, or seek professional counselling services if you find that you can’t manage your emotions.
- Keep healthy with adequate sleep, moderate exercise and diet. Talk to your family and friends, and continue your social activities. You will feel more positive if the other aspects of your life stay in control.
Finally, remember that there is no shame to having been retrenched. It’s happened to me and I see many resumes where people have left a job because they were made redundant. In fact, nowadays it’s becoming rare that people survive their careers totally unscathed.
No doubt about it, losing a job is a stressful life event, however, the way you respond to the news will often determine the impact and end result for you. As much as possible, keep your head up, try to stay optimistic, and see it as an opportunity. Sometimes adversity is the harbinger to something bigger and better. For a start, a new job can mean higher remuneration, which is a definite plus.
If you’re given fair notice before being let go, consider your options. Don’t hesitate if a great opportunity comes along, especially if you have not been with your current employer for long. Retrenchment benefits in this case are negligible and not worth the wait. Having continuity of employment is always a good thing to show in your resume.
Even as a longer term employee, being proactive and taking control of the situation is the best course to take. With mass retrenchments, waiting for a payout can put you at a disadvantage because everyone will be in competition during the job search. Remember also that a passive approach to job loss can impact negatively on your work attitude and feelings.
Have you ever been retrenched? If so, what coping mechanisms did you employ?