The COVID19 crisis has meant a huge rise in unemployment rates and redundancies in the UK. As companies grapple with their expenses as their income has fallen, many are forced to confront their biggest costs. And that is often people.  

Companies are forced to start making people redundant. 

For those impacted, it can be crippling.  

Nothing shakes a person more than not knowing where the next paycheck is coming from and the looming threat of not being able to feed their family or remain in their home. The emotional impact of redundancy is equally as all consuming. Being made redundant, particularly from a long-term job, can feel overwhelming, daunting and isolating. It can feel like a betrayal.  

But what do you do next?  

The loss of a job is never easy but that it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and grasp new opportunities. Even if those opportunities don’t look like you thought they might.  

Redundancy is the perfect time to think about what you do next.  

You can make this work for you. You just need to take a breath and give yourself some head space to think.  

Think and re-evaluate 

Consider what you have spent the last few years of your life doing. Has it made you happy? Have you found it fulfilling? Are you proud of the role model you present to your children (if you have them)? Who have you helped?  

Consider what comes next. What do you want? Where do you need to be before you retire? What do you need from a working week? What do you need financially? 

Coming up with some parameters will help you decide your next steps. You might come up with some pipe dream answers, but that’s ok. That gives you something you can start to work towards. 

Taking a break  

It can be terrifying to feel ok about not having a job for a while but we only get one life, so live it. If you have always wanted to travel around Asia, then maybe now is the time.  

If your children are growing up too fast, or an elderly parent is fading, then now might be the time to pause and spend some time with them.  

If you love yoga and want to learn more, go on a retreat. Maybe you’re thinking of teaching it? Look into how. 

It’s not often we are gifted with a break from “normal life”. If you can afford to, then embrace it. Everything will be there waiting when you get back and no future employer is going to quiz you on why you took a 6-month break after being made redundant.  

Doing something different 

Often people take the opportunity that redundancy presents to completely reconsider their career. 

Changing careers can be daunting and challenging, but also amazing. If you’ve been doing the same thing since you left education, then it might be time for an overhaul! 

If what you want to do is wildly different from what you did before then you’re probably going to need some training. There are some incredible resources out there these days, things that you can do from home and in your own time.  

Now might be a good time to talk to a career coach. They focus on different things and have different specialisms so do your research and get a recommendation if you can. Some sites, like my own That Works For Me, offer a free first session to help you understand a bit more about what you’re looking to achieve. 

You’ll need to start networking. Attending free events and joining active groups on LinkedIn or Facebook can be a good way to ease you into your new sector. Be sure to reach out to speakers and other attendees afterwards to start building your connections.  

Think about any voluntary work you can do in your new field. Could you offer any mentoring or training to people in that sector? Could you support any events as a way of getting to know people? 

Remember that most skills are transferable. You just have to do the right exercises to spot them. I highly recommend the book The Squiggly Career (there’s a podcast too) which has a number of exercises to help you do this.  

You’ll need a bit of self-belief and a level of resilience to change your career, but it is possible, and people do it all the time.  

Staying in the same career 

If you want to remain in the same career doing the same thing as you did before then that’s fantastic. It shows you are happy and fulfilled! 

You need to think about how you get that back and on terms that work for you. 

Consider your hours and your pay. Always missed the kids’ bedtime? Go and work somewhere that offers flexible working as standard. Been underpaid for too long? Set yourself a minimum and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Put your big boy pants on and imagine a man in your position. You are worth it. Every penny.   

Next, do your research. Who is available to you? Which companies are out there that do something similar? Think laterally as well as about the obvious choices. Are there new market entrants? Could you join an in-house team? 

It might be that you choose to freelance. Again, there are loads of amazing resources out there. LinkedIn can be a great place to find work. As can Facebook. Joining groups such as those in your local area and those specific to your trade can offer no end of opportunities.  

Get your business set up and ready to go. You’ll want a business bank account, an accounting software like Xero or Quickbooks, a name and a logo. Everything else can follow once you have your first client!

Whether you’re looking for employed work or freelance work, the first thing you should do is start networking. Connect with people that you’ve worked with, previous clients and people you admired from afar. Arrange short video calls. Meet for coffee. Go for a glass of wine. Now is the time to work the room!  

Remember it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.   

Next, get your CV ready. Or your web page or your brochure. You need a material that sells the best possible version of you to achieve what you want. Register with some recruiters that specialise in your field and sign up for jobs boards.  

Now get applying, quoting and talking.  

This is your new life and your new norm. Take this opportunity and make it what you want. You need a dose of determination, a dash of positivity and a sprinkling of good luck. 

I believe in you.