Being made redundant is a painful, anxiety-ridden experience that far too many of us have experienced this year – particularly during a time of change, loss, and constant adaptation. However, losing your job really can work out for the best, even when it feels like it’s the end of your world.
Now, when I say there can be positive elements to losing your job, this is by no means meant to dismiss the very real impact losing your job can have on both your finances and your mental health. Instead, this is about acknowledging that no situation is either 100% good or 100% bad, and that our life experiences are almost always a mixture of both. Being able to root through the messiness of job loss and find the positives can help us gain perspective and build a resilience that we never had before.
I’ve personally lost my job to redundancy three times, all under very different circumstances. Each time I was panicked and grief-stricken – but each instance of job loss forced me into taking risks in my career that I would have never made while safely employed. For example, when I lost my job in 2013 – only three weeks after my husband and I had managed to buy our first home together – I found myself applying for jobs that I never would have attempted applying for previously. With a mortgage and bills to pay – I couldn’t afford to not apply for jobs that I was clearly qualified for, just because my imposter syndrome or self-esteem begged to differ.
2019 marked my biggest and most public instance of job loss when The Pool, the women’s website where I was editor-in-chief, suddenly stopped paying its employees and freelance contributors, and closed down. Having your job and your pay suddenly disappear without so much as a notice period or redundancy package is extremely difficult. It’s even harder when you’re in a management position and are unable to answer the questions your staff so desperately need.
Through my own experiences, I’ve discovered that although it’s painful, scary and wildly uncomfortable – job loss also invites you to reassess your values, your relationship with your career and what you truly want from your next job.
When I lost my “dream job” at The Pool – after a very stressful few years at a big tech company – it made me decide that I could not work as full-time employee again. Going freelance allowed me to address my own work-life balance, and helped readjust my relationship to money (“How much do I actually need to make? And do I really need this many skincare products?!”). It also allowed me to write my first book – something I never could have done in the types of management jobs I was in before.
Practically, the most important thing you can do for yourself when you lose your job is to give yourself time to grieve the loss. Give yourself as much time as your finances allow, to not only recover, but to make sure you’re not rushing into another job that’s not right. It’s difficult to set yourself up for a successful job hunt when you’re still emotionally wrecked and angry from your redundancy. (Trust me, it does show in interviews!) Even if it’s just a week, taking time to recover will give yourself the necessary headspace to think clearly about your next steps, and make a plan.
Ask yourself, what are your deal-breakers? (Flexible hours? The ability to work from home?) Do you need a job immediately to pay the bills or do you have a safety net – such as minimal savings, or living in a dual income household – that will allow you extra time to leverage a job you’ll love?
Losing your job is never easy, but focus on what you can control, rather than what you can’t. Who do you know that might be able to help? What are your skills? What can you do, even temporarily, to bolster your income?
There is always a silver lining to job loss – even if it’s not immediately seen or knowable to us. Taking some time to recover and process the grief is crucial and can help give you that much needed energy shift to help you decide what brilliant thing you’ll do next. It might feel like the end of the world, but I promise you, it’s not. You’re just getting started.