Part two in our look at job loss explains how - when the initial shock has passed - it can be an opportunity to advance your career, as Michael Moran explains

Redundancy can be seen as a challenge or an opportunity. It may be a heavy blow at the time but it is really important to take a positive approach.

Do not be too quick to flood the market with CVs, running around to find any job. It is important to take time to reflect. There is a temptation to apply for jobs that you can do rather than jobs that you want. Early on you should update your CV and take care to highlight your accomplishments.

Going to work provides routine, social contact and a sense of purpose. It forms a large part of a person’s identity. Take this away and it can leave people feeling lost, vulnerable, anxious and depressed. Ask for outplacement as it provides crucial support and advice on maximising your offering, impact and effort.

The psychology of change

During her work with people undergoing change, particularly grief and bereavement, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed a model identifying the process involved in coping with major life changes. The initial shock of redundancy gives way to anger and loss of self-confidence before you are able to start making decisions and changes.

  • Stage 1 - shock and surprise at the announcement
  • Stage 2 - denial of the change, convincing yourself and others that it isn’t really happening
  • Stage 3 - frustration and anger, often with a tendency to blame others
  • Stage 4 - depression and apathy, everything seems pointless and purposeless
  • Stage 5 - experimentation, where you are able to try new things out
  • Stage 6 - coming to terms with what has happened and starting to feel more optimistic and positive
  • Stage 7 - integrating the changes into your life.

It is normal to go through these emotions, but it is also important to recognise and deal with them so as to move on.

If you go to interviews when you are still at the shocked and angry stage you won’t present yourself in the best light.

Consider where you want to be in five years’ time. In this vision of the future you are not constrained by anything. Picture yourself in this ideal role; build a job description.

Now imagine yourself as the person to whom you report in this ideal job. You have to recruit the ideal candidate. What skills, knowledge, and expertise does the very best candidate need?

Review your skill set against the competencies of this imagined best candidate. Be brutal.

You now need to find a job that will allow you to develop your aspirations. Recruiters tend to want to hire only those with the prerequisite skills. So you need to start bridging the gap, to invest time and effort in acquiring new skills.

Build up your contacts

Eighty per cent of recruitment results from networking introductions. Most people know this but hate networking and are not confident about it. You have to get over that.

Use your networking to get you in front of your “point of purchaser” - the person with the power to hire you. The wider your network, the greater your chances of success, but recognise that an introduction will only get you the meeting, not the job.

Redundancy does not necessarily close off internal opportunities but be proactive. The organisation that knows you best is your present employer. Network internally, share your view of the future with your employer to see if you can make an internal career transition.

If you cannot or do not want to stay where you are then start targeting companies and roles where you will be able to build on your competencies. The stigma of redundancy has gone — everyone knows someone who has been through the mill so they will be sympathetic.

Fifty per cent find new roles with a salary higher or the same as they earned before. You may need to be flexible to facilitate a career shift or broaden your experience in the marketplace. It is your career so take control and explore all your options.

Job seeking

Advice for the active and empowered job seeker:

  • Maintain a positive outlook: do not play the victim
  • Make sure you get outplacement services
  • Build your network
  • Think about your career plan and moving forward
  • Target employers and network to get yourself in front of them

Top tips

  • Take stock - people spend more time researching their next iPod or holiday than career options
  • See it as an opportunity - difficult to do, but this could present a real opportunity to do something you have always wanted to
  • Network - 80 per cent of roles are filled through using networks rather than advertised vacancies or recruitment agencies
  • Look over the horizon - be creative with where you look, don’t just limit yourself to what you have always done