Take the redundo, seize the day and revel in a fresh start
AT THE age of 42, Hacy Tobias's corporate career came to a halt when she was told her services as general manager for a resources company were no longer required.
"I'd been working for the company for more than a year when I was made redundant," she says. "I was out the door and in shock. I couldn't talk to anyone. Just six weeks earlier I was told that I had made an outstanding contribution to the company."
Tobias believes her job loss had more to do with her gender than her performance. "The resources sector is male-dominated and very blokey. In the end it boiled down to the fact that I didn't fit in with the culture."
Tobias says the experience left her jaded. "I was embarrassed to tell people I was made redundant. I was concerned that, at 42, I was past my use-by date."
A psychologist specialising in organisational management, Daryl Stillwell, says most of those made redundant involuntarily have a similar reaction to Tobias. As much as they might try not to take the news personally, most do.
"They see it as a reflection on themselves," Stillwell says. "They think they're a failure. Also, they are concerned about their standing among family members and friends. They're worried about the financial impact on their lives."
A few others, he says, are over-confident, think it's the company's loss and they will find a job quickly.
Another extreme is the person who falls apart psychologically. They have invested everything in their job and lost not only their livelihood but also their friends because all their networks are linked to work.
"To them, the employer has effectively taken away the meaning of life," Stillwell says.
The most common reaction is somewhere between the two extremes and it is normal to feel anxiety and confusion over what to do next. A short break to recalibrate is ideal.
Tobias spent several months looking for work. After several failed attempts to land a job, she decided to go out on her own.
"I wanted to do something where I wouldn't be made redundant or lose my job because there was a change of guard or restructure," she says. "I started thinking about going out on my own. I had no idea about running a business. I got talking to other people to learn how to do it. I joined networking groups and I read lots of books."
Today, Tobias runs a home-based business and last year published a book, The Diaries of a Corporate Princess, to help others cope with career change.
Stillwell's recommendation to the recently redundant is to spread the word in a positive way that you are looking for work.
Also, it's important to spend time updating your resume. Finally, he adds, a change in job can turn out to be a positive experience.
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