So many comments in the press these days are highlighting the negative impact of forced redundancies on individuals, the community and the broader economy. And rightly so – the fallout of losing your job can be among the most devastating of your career. In previous posts I have written about career first aid for people who unexpectedly find themselves out of a job and my series of career tips sheets provide further suggestions that may help, if you find yourself in this situation.
However, there is another side to the redundancy story which relates to the opportunities that can be created to think afresh about where your career is going and what you want for yourself in the future. In his book, Only the Paranoid Survive, Andrew Grove, the founder of Intel, used the term “inflection point” to describe “an event that changes the way we think and act”. Losing your job can be such an event, where in unforeseen circumstances you can be blown completely off course, and set adrift from your usual routines and lifestyle. However, the resulting uncertainty can lead to opportunity when you are able and willing to identify, acknowledge and act on the options available to you.
Think on this – losing your job can be tough, but there are many people out there who stay in jobs that they don’t particularly like (and even hate) for lack of imagination, energy and know how to make a change. Most of us have been like this in our careers at some point, which is usually matched by a sense of “underemployment” and disengagement from our work. Charles Handy in his book, The Age of Unreason, recounted the well-known story of the frog that when put in water that is slowly heated, eventually lets itself be boiled to death. Handy uses this metaphor to illustrate how humankind can suffer the same fate due to the inability or unwillingness to notice and react to significant changes that occur gradually. This is very relevant to people at work I think, who slowly are ‘eaten away’ by jobs they simply don’t like and don’t want to spend their time doing.
And then along comes a change we weren’t expecting, when the decision is made for us, and we find ourselves out of the job we hated all along. I have worked with clients who with hindsight tell me how grateful they were when this happened to them, because it created an inflection point that made them think about what they really wanted for themselves and to make deliberate decisions about their future.
To turn redundancy into a positive opportunity ask yourself: What do you value most? What are you most interested in? What ideas do you have for the future? Is it time to test some new ones or ones that have been on the shelf for a while? Do you actually have to rush into the next opportunity or can you take some time out to volunteer or travel or spend more time on that hobby that has been starved for attention. Often when you take a break, or have a change of scene, you give yourself a chance to see a new options.
If you don’t have the luxury of taking some time out, then think expansively, plan and implement a smart job search strategy and give yourself the best chance of finding the job you prefer to have.
Losing your job, or choosing to leave it, can open as many doors as it closes.
All the best, Carole.