The devastation of being made redundant can leave you freewheeling emotionally for months – even years. It's very natural for people facing redundancy, regardless of whether it was expected or not, to go through a process of grief similar to bereavement.
In his book, Winning Through Redundancy, Steve Preston describes the five main impacts.
1. Shock, denial and anger – why me?
2. Fear of the unknown – will I get another job, and can I survive financially?
3. Loss of confidence and self-esteem – do I have any value?
4. Loss of self-control – now the rug's been pulled out from under me how do I survive?
5. Loss of structure – how am I going to cope without my routine?
There isn't any right or wrong way to feel. But it's important to know that you will go through some sort of emotional rollercoaster, and you need to let yourself do so.
You need to grieve for a while. Denying yourself the chance to go through a stage of grieving will only mean it rears its head later. Take a break – a holiday is good - so you can cry, punch pillows, talk it through and get it out of your system. But be aware of how long you're experiencing that sensation of loss and don't let it continue indefinitely. Realise that there are people who want to help but be selective – stick with people who are positive, who energise you, and preferably who've been through this journey themselves.
Whether you've been given a redundancy package or not, getting independent financial advice will mean you worry less about how you're going to survive financially. This will help you think about the minimum amount you need to survive on – which may open up more choices for you and take the panic out of your situation, meaning you're less likely to make a bad choice out of fear.
Find ways to stay optimistic and make sure you're in an environment that puts you in a positive mood. Whatever helps to lift your spirit – fitness, friends, walking the dog – do plenty of it. And work on building your resilience – look for the benefits in every situation that come along especially when you experience setbacks. Learn the valuable lessons they teach, asking yourself what could you have done differently? What would you do next time faced with this challenge? And let yourself think about the bigger picture. This may be the first time you've been able to think “what is it I really want to do?' so start to explore that. Would a career change make you happier? Could you turn a passion or a hobby into your own business?
Recognise your strengths and how marketable you are. Start to understand how you can transfer your skills to other sectors and what that could lead to. Challenge yourself to be really open to opportunities (working with a coach can be really beneficial for this). And recognise your small wins. For example, getting affirmation from someone about your skills and experience, and hearing they'd like to put you in touch with somebody they know is the kind of small but definite 'win' to be celebrated. As these start to build up you'll find your mindset becoming more positive, which cranks up your self-belief and self-confidence, and you'll feel more in control of your future.
There's no point being bitter and trying to analyse why and how you lost your job – it's happened. Living in the past will cause that pain and frustration to spiral and gnaw away at your self-belief. Learn from it and see it as an opportunity instead of beating yourself up - it's not your fault you've lost your job so avoid self-blame. But you do need to talk about your emotional state so people understand how you're feeling and can offer real support.
It's tempting to rush off in a panic and accept the first job offer that comes along, or hurl yourself at every job interview that presents itself within your sector. This is to be avoided, as you'll doubtless end up compromising. What's more your body language will give you away in your interviews – the last thing you want to do is come across as desperate. Be careful to only go for jobs you actually really want, so ask yourself how excited each opportunity makes you feel – if you're just grabbing at a life raft, don't apply.
Yes you need time out, but don't go into your cave and stay there, or spend your days on the Internet. You really do need to be around people and avoid becoming isolated. It's essential not to neglect your health so eat well, stay fit and take care of your mental wellbeing so you're energised and positive. Keep your energy levels up so you look and feel the best you can as job interviews come up. No one wants to employ a victim.
Tempting as it is to dissect and dwell on your situation with former colleagues, there comes a point when you need to move on. You don't want people around you who live in the past and pull you down when you're starting to change your mindset. And when you meet new people be careful how you talk about your situation. Instead of saying you're unemployed and hinting at your woes, use a more positive, upbeat, punchy style of language - 'I'm currently between jobs and exploring new opportunities".