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Planning Retirement Online

A Guide to Job Searching in Later Life

Part 7 - Coping with redundancy

DonWilde2.jpg (9403 bytes)Some, but not all, of those who read these sections will be doing so because they have suffered the misfortune of being made redundant – probably after many years of faithful and successful service. To many of them the first issue will not be “how do I find another job?”, but “how do I cope with what has happened to me?”

There are those (lucky people!!) who regard this as a totally positive opportunity, may well have planned for just this to happen, and can move straight into job seeking mode.
But what about the others? The many men and women, often in their fifties and sixties, who feel betrayed, pole-axed, frightened that not only their livelihood but in many cases their life has been taken away from them. How do they cope and start to consider the future in any positive way?

There are many differing negative emotions that are experienced at this time, just some of them being:

  • Anger – that this should be done to them at their time of life, after their long service or high achievement (or both). Sometimes even anger at themselves for letting the situation get to them so much.

  • Guilt – some find it impossible not to blame themselves for what has happened. They feel that they should have performed better, should have seen this coming, should have moved on years ago.

  • Bafflement – a genuine inability to understand why this has happened, why they were selected, how things can have got so bad

  • Shame – there are those, particularly from some cultures, who for reasons of pride or whatever feel unable to tell those at home – even their partners – or around them what has happened because they consider redundancy to be a cause for loss of face.

  • Uncertainty – not knowing where to go from here, what to do with their lives, how to go about it. And, in some cases, real …

  • Fear – particularly for those with dependants, about how they are going to survive without a regular income, and soon!

If you are suffering from the negative emotions typified by the above, the following considerations may help:

  1. Do bear in mind, and keep telling yourself, that it is not you the person that has been made redundant, it is the job that you were performing. This has not happened because you were in any way failing in your job, but because the business – for whatever reason – no longer required that job to be done in that location by that number of people. (And before you accuse me of living in an ivory tower – I know as well as you do that there are times…….!!!)

  2. Although right now it seems like the end of the world, I can assure you, on the basis of many clients that I have seen over the years, that the final outcome may well cause you to look back and say “thank goodness that happened to me”. You will find that you finish up with a new exciting job, or a departure into an entirely new area (maybe even self employed), or maybe an unplanned early but successful and pleasurable retirement. You may well realise that the previous job, or company, had ceased to challenge or motivate you years ago, but you needed the kick up the backside to move on.

  3. Maybe there was a time where there was a distinct stigma to being redundant – for example, revealing that you had been laid off was seen as jeopardising your chances of future employment. These days, certainly in the UK, redundancy is a fact of life, does not carry a “health warning”, and potential employers are most unlikely to count it against you.

  4. Working life does not end when you find yourself redundant in your fifties or sixties. There are plenty of jobs out there (sorry – rather broad-brush statement!) and the world, or at least the UK, is becoming less and less ageist. No longer is it only B&Q who look for the “more mature” employee – a recent TV documentary featured an internet company (yes, really!) in the Thames Valley who were actively seeking older staff, having become somewhat disillusioned with young turks who were all drive and vigour with little stability, life-experience or maturity.

  5. One of the ways to help towards coming to terms with the situation is to talk about it – to your partner, to colleagues, to others who have been there, maybe even to a counsellor. Talking it through will, in time, hopefully help you to come to terms with what has happened and to move forward.

  6. Moving forward is essential. You cannot hope to make major decisions, to act positively, to present yourself well, if you are still carrying the “baggage” of your redundancy. There will come a time when your emotions and motivation bottom out and start to move in positive direction, but it is no good starting a job search activity until you have reached this point. So do everything you can to reach this turning point as soon as you are able, and then start to see the future as an exciting opportunity that deserves your best shot.

  7. The very act of moving forward will help to lessen the negatives. If you immerse yourself in job-search as discussed in earlier sections, put discipline into your campaign, treat it as a job in terms of hours, planning and control, and talk to employers, network contacts etc in positive terms about your future - just see how quickly the past can be put behind you.

I hope that none of the above is regarded as belittling the very real pain and upset that many of you may be experiencing. But thousands have been there before you and, based on their experience, most of you will come out smelling of roses!!

Don Wilde, the writter of this Guide, has many years experience in outplacement and career consultancy, latterly on a self-employed basis but prior to that within the IT industry. He has experience in a variety of human resources, business and project management, and staff development roles.
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