How to bounce back after being retrenched

Being retrenched has become a normal setback in many people’s working lives and could lead to something positive if approached with resilience and a productive mindset. So what strategies should you consider?

Jun 19, 2020

5 minutes

Being retrenched has become a normal setback in many people’s working lives and could lead to something positive if approached with resilience and a productive mindset. So what strategies should you consider?

Bouncing back

Losing your job can affect your confidence and raise self-doubt, not to mention the financial strain and anxiety you may also experience. While you know deep down it’s not about you, especially right now given that the world has been turned upside down, it can sometimes feel that way, an indirect form of rejection. While this is a natural reaction, it’s very important to keep a positive perspective. Being retrenched has become a normal setback in many people’s working lives and could lead to something positive if approached with resilience and a productive mindset.

So, what strategies should you consider?

  • Take a short break. While this may seem counter-intuitive as you feel you need to act and ‘do’ something, it’s important to take some time to reflect and then position yourself correctly for the next phase of your life. Don’t make any big decisions in the first few days and don’t rush straight into the job market while you are still feeling vulnerable and wounded. Reflect on what you value in your life, what drives you and brings you joy. Keep a journal of your meetings and thoughts – writing things down enables you to process them better.

  • Do an in-depth financial assessment with your financial advisor. Getting a proper handle on your financial situation, including your monthly expenses and retirement planning, will help keep your anxiety and stress in check. Knowing is better than worrying. If you can measure it, you can manage it. Once you have re-evaluated your financial plans, involve your family and anyone else who is financially reliant on you in this discussion. Be pragmatic and realistic with both yourself and your family. This might be a difficult conversation. You may feel as though you are letting your team down, but in this challenging time, you will need them – so be open and honest and ask for their support.

  • Talk to someone who is not family. You may feel angry and resentful; this is a natural reaction, but you will find it difficult to productively move forward while you are still feeling this way. Speak to someone you trust so you can start to process these feelings and move beyond this state. You do not want to start looking for a new job in the next phase of your life with lingering feelings of bitterness and resentment. Reframe your retrenchment in your mind from one of victimhood to one of new opportunities using an objective, succinct, upbeat message for your current situation that will take you from the past into the future.

  • Update your CV and your LinkedIn profile. While it is important in a CV to record what you have done, don’t lose sight of what you can do. Mention your functional exposure (e.g. finance, HR, marketing), your technical expertise, industry and geographic experience and your managerial and leadership involvement. Be succinct and focused, mindful that people reading your CV will most likely have many others to read. Include a photograph and a short personal introduction to enable the reader to get a sense of who you are and what’s important to you. Use this time of updating your CV to reflect on your past career, what you have done well, what you would really like to do going forward, and where you believe you can add value. Read it through the critical eyes of the reader to make sure that it is an attractive representation of ‘you’. Similarly, with your LinkedIn profile, make sure it is a true reflection of you and your worth to a potential employer.

  • Explore opportunities. Think about your job search in the broadest way possible. Research the companies you would like to work for and approach friends and former colleagues who work at these companies. Ask them to inform you of opportunities. Network with an exploratory mindset, ask questions and get ‘up-to-date’ with the latest issues and developments in the industries and companies in which you are interested. Remember that searching for a job requires energy and dedication; many people will not reply to your emails and phone calls, so cast your net wide and try not to take rejection personally, as difficult as that is. If you are invited to an interview or a callback, you may be tempted to stop looking – rather continue and keep all options open. Consider freelance work as an entry into a company; this demonstrates your positive intentions and gives you a chance to display your skills and experience.

  • Look after yourself. A job search can be a protracted, difficult process. You need to keep your energy up, so make sure you are eating well, sleeping enough and surrounding yourself with people who bring you joy and boost your confidence. Think of yourself as someone you would want to hire, speak of yourself with pride. If you think positively of yourself, others will be more inclined to do so too. Focus on expanding and developing your skills. Consider short online courses and other developmental avenues open to you.

  • Practice resilience. While resilience comes naturally to many people, it can also be learnt and will hold you in good stead while looking for a job. There are a number of characteristics that contribute towards being more resilient. Firstly, it’s important to have a sense of humour, even when things aren’t that funny! Don’t lose the ability to see the ‘lighter side’. Secondly, draw support from others, ask for help, consult a counsellor or therapist if needed, and most importantly, avoid people who drain and sap your energy. Accepting reality will also help – there is no point in staying in a ‘what if, if only’ mindset – the facts are the facts and you need to deal with those, as hard as that is. Lastly, focus on what is important in your life: find meaning and purpose within yourself and what you are going through. Take breaks and recharge, enjoy the time you have with your family – that will not be as abundant when you start working again. Most importantly, know that you will be stronger and wiser on the other side.

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Authored by

Kim Howard

Human Capital

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