8 things to do after being retrenched

Being made redundant is one of the most undesirable things that can happen to a professional, but it’s not the end of the world.

I was perturbed when I found out yesterday that 6 of my ex-colleagues were let go. I saw them as friends first, then colleagues, which was why it shocked me when they just got cut off from the organisation in a heartbeat.

To a certain extent, I know how that felt because I was let go during my first job out of university. I started off full-time and then got instructed to come in just 3 days a week, before being told that there’s no need to come into the office anymore.

Honestly, it sucks and the reality of the shock, heaviness and disappointment can hang around and do things to your head.

Fortunately, it’s not the end of the world and there are things to do to better manage this incident.

1. Redefine failure

Failure is the incident/event, not the person.

You can either see failure as a stepping stone to something greater or a stumbling block that stops you in your tracks.

In fact, don’t even see being laid off as a failure. See it as a learning experience that helps sharpen and toughen you up for your future success.

2. Reflect, reward, recharge

Take some time to reflect on the entire experience. At the moment of receiving the news, your emotions might be firing in all directions making it extremely hard to think straight. Once you find a more composed physical location and emotional state, take a step back to evaluate on your experience with your now past employer. What did you enjoy about it? What and who are you thankful for? How did this whole episode make you a better person and professional?

Because a chapter of employment has ended, you might have more time on your hands so why not spend it on things which you weren’t able to when working full time? Take some time off to rest and reward yourself. Go on a short trip. Pamper yourself. Hang out with friends.

Just like reflecting, do take the time to recharge your body, mind, soul and spirit. If you weren’t eating well when at work, maybe now’s the time to have another look at your diet. Perhaps you could start a routine of exercising and meditating – to prepare you for the next leg in your journey.

3. Plan your next steps

It’s time to get practical here. What’s your next move? “To get a job” is not good enough. What kind of job? What industry? What size of company? Are you going to remain in the same line of work? Are you going to work for a company of a similar size to your previous workplace?

Once you have a rough plan/idea, put it into concrete steps and execute them. If you want to get employed in the next 1-3 months, then what do you need to do weekly and daily? How much time are you going to spend searching and applying for jobs, reaching out to employers, revising your CV, networking, etc?

4. Share your situation with others

It definitely helps to have a peer and social group which you can share your feelings and situation with. It’s even better if you are able to be real about how you felt about things, as well as to be accountable on what you are going to do next.

If you feel that there’s a need to be in solitude, then do so, but don’t stay in your shell for too long. You will realise that the earlier you reach out and get out there, the faster you would be back on the road again.

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5. Ask your ex-colleagues to be job references

I hope you didn’t leave with bridges burnt behind you. Never do that because the world is so small. You would never know if you might need the help of your former employer or colleagues down the road.

Do yourself a favour and ask at least one of your closest ex-colleagues to act as your job reference as this would come in handy for your future job applications.

6. Increase your employability

Now that you’re in the job hunt again, don’t just spend 100% of your waking hours searching and applying for jobs online. Because we all know that applying for work online isn’t the most effective way – since many others are doing the same.

Instead, go the extra mile by reaching out to employers and attending networking events. The more you can put yourself out there (preferably in person), the higher your chances of getting a job. It’s not what you know, but who you know that sets you apart.

Additionally, there are other things that can give you an extra edge in the job search process:

  • volunteering
  • working on side projects
  • reading books, materials, articles
  • attending events
  • taking up courses

7. Check your cashflow

You will need to be realistic about your finances as well.

Based on your average monthly expenditure, how long can you last/survive on your savings?

If you don’t like the answer, what can you do about it? Are there certain habits or activities to cull? Would you need to take up side jobs or work part-time in the interim?

8. Stop reading the past and start writing the future

After all that has been said and done, it’s sometimes tempting to look back and wished that you had done this or that. “Maybe if I came in earlier at the start of the day and left later I would be a better employee.” “Perhaps if I took less leave and sick days, and took up more projects I would have remained.”

Should have done this, could have done that…the list goes on…

The past is the past and there is nothing you can do about it. Reflect on it and learn as much as you can from it, and move on.

Too many people live in the past. They reminisce about the “good old days” or remain tormented by the regret of past action or inaction, but that doesn’t change anything.

Stop worrying about things beyond your control and work on things within your control.

Stop reading the past and start writing your own future.

Your future is only as bright as you want it to be.

The redundancy?

That door shut behind you so that many more can open in front of you.

Go for it. A whole world awaits you!


Would you have any tips for those who experienced a redundancy?

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