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Job loss? 6 steps to bounce back from redundancy

24 May 2024
Reading time: 7 minutes

Posted by Georgette Hart , 0 Comments

Our careers can be a huge part of our identity, as well as a source of financial security, so it’s normal to feel a sense of panic even at the thought of losing your job.  

But having a role wind up can also be a time of opportunity to take stock, check in on how you’re feeling about your career, or pursue something completely new.  

If you’ve been made redundant, there’s no doubt you’ll be experiencing financial, mental and career challenges. But there are steps you can take to stay resilient and get out the other side happier.  

Lindsey Brittain from Turas works as a life, career and leadership coach and has experienced six restructures and three redundancies throughout her career. She says it’s important to acknowledge the negative emotions you’re experiencing, but to not dwell on them for too long.  

“Redundancy can definitely shake your confidence in your own capability, as well as your self-belief to ‘get back out there’. I can tell you from experience that it is possible to rebuild it,” she says.   

“Take a moment to acknowledge your emotions (sadness, hurt, anger, frustration, anxiety), but I urge you not to ‘linger’ in it. It’s wasted time. Time when you can put your logical hat on, sit back and look at the facts NOT the stories about your situation.”  

The key is to stop looking back and start looking ahead, considering where you want to go, the different scenarios that may play out and how you’ll keep things ticking in the meantime. A good first step is making a financial plan. 

Reassess your budget 

Take a close look at your budget to see how your household can cope with reduced income. If you have an emergency fund or a redundancy payment, work out how long it will last. 

Review your spending and what you could potentially cut out in the short term. Try to avoid pausing insurance payments they might be just what you need at this time to keep you out of any further financial stress.  

If you have a mortgage, you may be able to change to interest-only payments for a time. Talk to your bank as early as possible to see how they could help. Don’t wait until you’ve missed a mortgage payment to let them know about the situation.  

It’s also worth checking if you’re eligible for any government help. Visit the Work and Income website for more information. 

You may be able to withdraw money from your KiwiSaver due to financial hardship, but you’ll want to exhaust all your other options first. Remember that withdrawing from your KiwiSaver account is taking money from future you (who may need it just as much, if not more). It needs to be a last resort. 

Know your rights 

Your employment contract will state if you’re entitled to a redundancy payment and how much it would be. 

Your employer is legally required to follow a fair process, which may include giving a reasonable period of notice and paying out any unused annual leave and salary.  

Find out more about your rights as an employee in the event of losing a job on the New Zealand at Work website.    

Reset your mindset 

Focusing on the future can help you to feel more positive and see the situation more clearly.  

Devon, 29, was made redundant when the organisation she worked for lost a major contract and had to cut a third of their roles. She says the most difficult part of the experience was keeping her emotions in check. 

“It was hard trying to not take it personally. The emotional rollercoaster of it all feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, rejection, anger and sadness. And feeling helpless and that things were totally out of my control. 

“It helped talking about it with others and hearing their stories of also being made redundant. Giving myself time to be upset about it and grieve. I tried to view it as an opportunity to move up in my career.” 

“It helped talking about it with others and hearing their stories of also being made redundant. Giving myself time to be upset about it and grieve. I tried to view it as an opportunity to move up in my career.”

Devon, 29

Devon ended up happier in a better role, with more money and a better team. She now believes that sometimes redundancy is “the push we need to move on to bigger and better things”. 

Career coach Lindsey encourages people to look beyond their feelings and focus on the ‘data points’ that confirm or refute negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “it’s unfair”.  

“Rewriting your ‘stories’ about redundancy helps you move forward and make decisions rather than stay ‘frozen’ in the moment. Emotions are natural, but try not to let them dominate. Move on to putting energy into the next phase of your journey. A fresh start, free from baggage, is essential for your wellbeing and productivity.” 

Get back out there 

The next step is putting yourself out there for new opportunities. 

Lindsey encourages people to use this time as an opportunity to take a new lens on their career, potentially applying for different jobs or in industries they haven’t worked in before.  

“Redundancy also gifts you time. Take this opportunity to reflect on what your passions are, your values, your skills and your strengths. Consider how they align with potential career paths and seek out those who can guide you such as mentors, coaches and recruitment consultants.   

“Never overlook your values they are a critical guide to your future choice of organisation and role.”  

“Take a moment to acknowledge your emotions (sadness, hurt, anger, frustration, anxiety), but I urge you not to linger in it.”

Lindsey Brittain, Turas

For Lindsey, being made redundant from her corporate role was what led her to set up her own coaching business Turas - a job she describes as her “true calling”. 

“It was a huge crossroads in my life where I felt ‘stuck’ and had lost my way. I ultimately realised money, significance and certainty (I was the main earner) had overtaken my meaning.

“Redundancy offered me the time to truly examine what I wanted to do. I invested in coaching, retrained as a coach and launched my own coaching business. I love what I do every day, I’m exactly where I should be and redundancy has been my silver lining.”  

Draw on your network 

Although this might be a time when you feel like withdrawing, you need to resist the urge to isolate yourself. Connecting will help to build your social resilience providing a sense of validation and reminding you that you are not alone.  

“Reach out to your existing networks for support. Whether it's seeking advice from your mentor, confiding in your friends, or attending networking events, don't be afraid to lean on those around you.  Don’t tackle it all on your own,” says Lindsey. 

It is often our personal networks that lead us to new opportunities, so letting people know about your situation may have more benefits than you realise. 

Look after yourself 

Finally, if the situation is taking a significant toll on your mental health, make sure to ask for help early. A trained professional will be able to help you to process your grief and break the tie between your self-worth and your job.  

If you’re struggling to find purpose, it might help to consider ways you could keep busy in the meantime, like volunteering or caring for an elderly family member.  

The Mental Health Foundation has a list of helplines you can call for support or information most of them are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Try to remember that this is just a season of your life, and one that may just lead you to where you need to be. 

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