It seems that the threat of redundancy is circulating in many major companies right now. With that threat comes worry and a massive sense of insecurity. No-one knows what is going to happen. No-one feels that they have any control over the decisions that are being made further up the food chain. Morale declines. Friends and colleagues know that it may come down to "you vs me". It's not a good place to be!
Whilst it is probably true that you have no control over what the outcome will be, you do have control over how you prepare yourself practically and emotionally. Here are five steps you can take to prepare yourself for whatever is coming.
1. Your Mindset
This is perhaps the most important part of this process. Whatever you think of the company you work for, or the process they are going through to cut staff, keep your opinions to yourself. You don't want to jeopardise your future with the company by being perceived as a troublemaker at this time. Remember, too, that it is your JOB that is being cut, not you as an individual, so don't lash out because you feel it is a personal insult. It is usually not a reflection of the person or their work, just the hard fact that a certain number and type of jobs are going to go and you may be part of the collatoral damage.
Work hard on not taking this personally because your belief in yourself is going to be very important in the next stage of rebuilding your career, whether that is at the same company when the redundancies are all over, or as you look for a new job.
2. Your Achievements
What have you achieved in your current job? Start creating a list of everything you have been involved with. List the projects you contributed to, and consider any major and minor achievements that you can claim. Achievements don't have to be big major awards; smaller achievements can be just as important if they illustrate the sort of person you are at work. Consider anything you have done that has made your workplace a better place because of what you did – new systems, new processes, improved relationships, better practices etc. Also consider the teams you have been part of and the contribution you made within those teams. "Soft skills" such as effective communication and working harmoniously with a diverse range of people are achievements that are seriously important in the overall workings of a business.
Value who you are and what you have contributed. This also contributes to boosting your belief in yourself. If you recognise your value you will proudly share this with potential future employers and will project an air of confidence.
3. Your Preferences
If it does happen that you lose your job what do you want to do next? Will you immediately start looking for another similar job? Or could this be a catalyst to propel you towards something that you have always wanted to do. Take time to think about this. Just because you have always done one job doesn't mean you can't make the effort to change direction if the opportunity presents. The easiest career direction changes happen when you get a simliar job in a different industry, or a different but related job in the same industry. This may be your chance to do something that you wouldn't have done if your so-called "secure" job didn't disappear.
If your job is not made redundant, are you happy to keep working in the same capacity at your current job? What impact will it have on your current job if many of your colleagues have gone and those who are left have to try to be productive with a skeleton staff?
You may be nearing retirement age, and this also can have a big impact on your preferences. Would you like to retire earlier than anticipated? Redundancy may be welcomed if you feel you are ready to leave and start a new phase of your life.
4. Your Resume
Now that you have recognised your achievements and preferences you are ready to update your resume, or get it updated professionally. Whilst we all know that our resumes should be kept up to date not many people actually do this, so this is a good opportunity to look at it critically and make the changes that are necessary. Trends change in resumes, so the document that suited your needs 5 years ago may not be completely appropriate now. If you want to aim for a different role you need to change the resume to show the links between what you have been doing and what you want to do. Your achievements should be carefully listed so that if shows you to be the person who would be outstanding in the position you want. And of course the resume and the cover letter should be adapted to meet the exact requirements of each job description you are responding to.
5. Your Network
If you know redundancies are inevitable you need to start reaching out to your network. Let the people who know what you are capable of…those you have worked with in the past, family, friends, colleagues you have met through professional associations, in fact anyone who values you and your skills…the sort of work you are looking for and even companies that you'd love to work for. What you are seeking is inside information about what jobs may be coming up and who you may be able to have a chat with to find out what is happening in your industry/profession/trade. At this point you are not looking for a job, just seeking information and putting yourself out into the marketplace "just in case". The funny thing is that by the time the company you work for makes a decision about who is staying and who is going you have may have already decided to that you no longer want to be employed by that company.
Your feedback and questions
Are you, or have you been, in the situation where redundancies are hanging over everyone like a storm cloud? How did you cope? What advice would you give to people in that situation?