Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Surviving redundancy

Suzanne Collier 002Redundancy is commonplace. For some it may be a blessed relief after months of uncertainty or being stuck on furlough, for others it may just add salt to their wounds.

Redundancy is a huge shock. It is described as one of the top ten stressful things you might encounter, compared with bereavement and divorce. Nowadays, there’s little stigma in being made redundant, but it does not reduce the personal and emotional stress that losing your job, your regular income, and your daily routine brings.

Some companies offer outplacement counselling, but many in the industry don’t know where or who to turn to. Losing your job in such a way can be soul-destroying and demoralising.

If you do find yourself in this position, here are some tips to help you pick yourself up.

Stay motivated, no matter how hard

Lockdown can make being at home all day feel even worse. If you are stuck indoors, it is easy to lapse into despondency, so it’s important to maintain a daily routine: get out of bed in the morning, get dressed, eat properly − and don’t sit and watch TV all day. It can also affect your relationship with your partner or housemates, especially if they still have a job to go to, whether they are working from home or a different location.

Get out and about

First, get rid of your aggression and emotion – but not with the people around you. Get out of the house every day − do some sport, or go for a run or walk, even if it’s a short one. It’s easy to feel downhearted, useless and unloved, but a simple activity like taking exercise as well as putting yourself first, changes all that. This is why, even during the tightest lockdown, the UK Government allowed everyone outside to exercise. Solitary exercise also gives you time to think, time to plan, and should invigorate you into action.

Remember, the less you use your body, the less your body will want to do.

Keep in touch with your network and friends

Stay connected with people who are working, but remember that they are in jobs and don’t have all day to chat on the phone. Use your contacts in the industry − tell them you are looking for work. Make sure that you sign up for all the trade press, free news bulletins and job alerts.

Try to motivate yourself by spreading out the calls and contacts, so that if you get a rejection letter from one vacancy, you already have an application in for another. Keep your mind focussed on active applications, not rejections.

Accept the highs and lows

Understand that you will feel a whole range of emotions, from total despair to euphoria. Some days will be better than others. Find things to get yourself through the bad days. Remember all those jobs at home that you put off because you were always working late or too tired? Well, now is your chance to do them.

Support and assistance – who to contact

If you feel you have been treated unfairly and need some legal advice about your situation, but you are not a member of the National Union of Journalists, then contact ACAS for immediate advice.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you reschedule debts if you have to register as unemployed, or StepChange and National Debtline will advise you in complete confidence. Please do not feel any embarrassment when talking to these organisations; they have heard it all and are skilled in getting you out of trouble.

If you have been working in publishing for a year or more, The Book Trade Charity can advise you if you are eligible for a retraining grant, career support or other financial assistance.

At bookcareers.com, we have several ways of helping anyone who is losing or has lost their job. We provide redundancy counselling and career support for companies and individuals. We are currently running two job clubs which are free to join: one for those who are unemployed after having lost their UK book industry role; and one for anyone else looking for entry level roles or trying to break into the book industry.

Looking to the future

As to the future and finding your new job, take time to reassess what it is that you want to do. Redundancy is often when people consider going freelance, but bear in mind that very few freelancers make a fortune; most just earn enough to keep their head above water.

Think about what you enjoyed in your last job, your likes and dislikes.

  • Did you like working in a team? Or do you prefer working on your own?
  • Do you like sitting at a desk?
  • Do you like being in a corporate environment? Or do you prefer to be in an informal workplace?
  • What do you want to do in a new job, the same or something different?
  • Had you not been made redundant, what was your career plan?
  • Where did you want to be in five years’ time? How were you going to get there?

Why should this temporary blip make your career plan any different? You might have to diversify for a while, but any experience is valuable. What better way to apply for a vacancy that advertises ‘must work well under pressure and adapt to change’ than by demonstrating that you have dealt with the personal pressures of change?

Suzanne Collier is a fully qualified Registered Career Development Professional (RCDP) and the founder of bookcareers.com. Her book How to Job Search in Book Publishing will be published in 2021.

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