I've Been Made Redundant Four Times And It's Taught Me A Thing Or Two
Being made redundant kind of sucks. I know this because I’ve been made redundant four times in the past eight years. I’m 34.
In the industry I chose (publishing) and so so many others, sadly, job losses have been kind of par for the course in recent years. I never thought I’d get ‘used to’ it, but with an average of one retrenchment every two years, I’m pumping them out faster than Rihanna can drop new albums.
I don't mean to sound super blase -- there's absolutely no doubt that being made redundant is pretty effing major and can be absolutely devastating. But after four cracks at it personally, I don't think it's out of line to say I've gotten kind of good at being made redundant (not a skill I thought I'd be able to boast about, but hey, here we are) and I've definitely learned a few key things along the way -- aside from, ahem, 'try a new career'...
It's Not Your Fault
Whether it was a company close down, a restructure or some other reason, being made redundant feels pretty shitty. It’s as if the business you’ve worked your ass off for (the late nights, the weekends in the office!) is basically saying:
It’s not me, it’s you.
But what I finally wrapped my head around by redundancy No. 4 is that it actually wasn't me. And if it's a genuine redundancy, it’s probably not you either.
(Disclaimer: If you've been fired coz you rock up two hours late every day, take boozy long lunches, yell at your workmates and don't actually do any work, try not to be too shocked by this but, actually, it might be you.)
You wonder what you could’ve done differently, how much harder you could’ve worked, why you weren’t good enough. Yep, it feels like you, personally, have failed.
You were good enough. You ARE good enough. I was and am, too.
It’s not about being good enough, or the effort or years you’ve put in. It’s not even about YOU, really -- even though it’s YOU who still has rent to pay, a family to feed... It’s about businesses bettering their bottom dollar and, yes, it f**king sucks but, sadly, the 'human-ness' of it all isn't really factored into most company's costings. Which brings me to my next point…
I've Learned To Be Like Elsa
Say it with me now: Let. It. Go.
Yeah, I know, much easier said than done. I get it, it's hard. Like, REALLY hard. Did I want to lose jobs I loved four times over? Not especially, no. Did I get any say in the matter? Also no. I had zero control -- and in a world where we get to have our say on So Very Much about who, where and what we do, eat, wear, say, think, buy, love, hate and on and on and on, having control of something as massive as our livelihood rudely prised from our fingers can come as a freakin’ HUGE shock to the system.
I'm not saying you should ignore the hurt, the anger, the fact that you feel like you've just been shafted by the company/the universe/the god you believe in. You've got to feel your feelings to move through them, so don’t suppress that.
But at the same time, in my experience, trying to wrench back control of any situation that’s legitimately outside your power (like, say, your entire department closing down and the company not having any comparable jobs available to slot you into) will just do your head in.
Taking control of the things I could (like annoying HR with all of the questions about the process and getting politely up in their faces about any new roles that might be popping up), plus letting go of the parts I couldn't control (that there Just Isn't A Job Here That Fits Your Expertise Anymore) helped me feel a bit less like my future was in someone else's hands.
I Prepare For The Worst
That sounds super doomy, but hear me out. Fact is, in an unstable industry (and aren't they all rn?), you’ve got to be ready for the shit to hit the fan at any moment.
I'm not saying live in fear -- that would be boring and sad and scary and nothankyouverymuch. But when the world is changing around you, you’ve got to keep up. Just because your employment future looks as stable as an IKEA table (hey, I have had mine for 10 years and it is going STRONG), upskilling so can't ever be a bad idea -- even if, you lucky thing, redundancy never comes your way.
Something Better Is Probably Coming
Well this is just plain science. According to one study*, every time one is relieved of one's job, something that sparks waaay more joy comes along next. It happened in 100 percent of cases in this very valid experiment, and science doesn't lie.
*(Me. I am the study. But this is still #facts, OK?)