How To Survive And Come Back From A Redundancy At Over 40

This article is so close to the bone it hurts! I am on day four, after being made redundant from my own job, which was just under two years as a digital marketer for major international media corporation and newspaper publisher.

But I have managed to move forward and not be beaten down by the usual feelings of depression, denial and misgivings that go along with this type of situation, especially if your like me, over 40.

Nothing stings worse than being told your doing really well at your work and then finding out that your losing your job, worse still it can really impact you emotionally and physically when its out of the blue. Thats what happened to me last week after almost two years of service.

When being faced with losing your job, its easy to lose the plot and react with defence or even a feeling of victimisation. Unless your being fired for something you have actually done wrong or some gross incompetence, you should have nothing to feel guilty about, as in the case of a redundancy scenario, such as a corporate restructure.

Good house keeping

From the moment you are officially faced with the notice and handed your packet, you need to keep calm and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Find out and make sure you are clear on the exact reason you are being let go, ask if there were any considerations for reassignment into another position or a reposting. Once you have established the facts, its down to your package.

Unless you are one hundred percent sure of what the terms of your contract and severance package should be don’t sign anything immediately until you have had at least some time to check it out and run some calculations, If in doubt seek legal advice.

There are different entitlements that may affect your situation, employed for less than two yours or over two years can have different structures in terms of what you may or may net be eligible for. Annual leave calculations, bonuses, commissions and any pensions that need to be accounted for need to be verified.

Depending on how senior your position is, you may have other more complicated issues such as housing allowance, company car or even an education package if your an expatriate working overseas. Make sure you are crystal clear on the final date for any of theses payments and that you know when the cut off or hand over date is.

Other things to also be aware of is any memberships and benefits you might have had that are listed or registered under your company, medical or dental insurance, gym and fitness center access, business clubs and associations or any other memberships paid for by your company.

Make sure you ask about when these will be terminated or suspended and that you have adequate time to unwind yourself from these memberships and make alternative arrangements where appropriate.

If you need some time to do some analysis, take stock of the situation and verify a few things, then ask your HR representative, boss, or whoever has been conducting the redundancy or termination with you.

Another thing to consider is your personal situation, will you be required to work off a notice period and will you be granted time to actively job seek and conduct interviews. Most employers will be flexible about such arrangements, however you might be able to negotiate some favourable terms depending on your situation and relationship at work.

If you are the primary income provider for your family, if your married or have children, you might be able to use some leverage to get better terms in the payout or days you actually need to be in the office.

Finally, ask who has been informed or already knows, and how your departure will be communicated to your colleagues or across the office. You may not be able to openly say anything or talk about it depending on the sensitivity of the situation, your internal policy, protocol and terms of your contract. This applies to your those externally such as clients, customers, vendors or anyone else you may have been dealing with day to day, to as part of your work

Be professional, be humble, clear your head before your react

This can be really hard once the initial blow has been dealt and assuming you have not had to leave the premises right away, such as working off a notice period, take a break. The last thing you want to do is have a melt down in front of your peers

This can be massively tough on you emotionally and worse if you have financial obligations like mortgages, unsecured loans, car payments, credit cards, children and school fees or other family to support. You may feel physically sick, nauseous or even light headed, so get outside and get some air.

If you need permission after being told the bad news, ask if you may go outside to get some air, take a walk, make a private call, or have a coffee. Its important to release this initial emotion of distress and clear your head for a few minutes.

Calling someone supportive can be a huge help at this difficult time, ring you partner, parent or close friend that you are comfortable, close and trust. Letting it can really help stop the wheels from spinning in your head and during this time you will need some reassurances and lots of support

Going back to you desk immediately after being given the axe can be brutal, the feeling that other colleagues sitting right next to you might already know that you were going to be made redundant can emotionally cripple you. My advice is don’t do it, go to the coffee room, break out area or even the bathroom and give yourself a few minutes to release some emotion in private.

You may need to cry, scream, swear or whatever, but don’t do it in front of your colleagues, if possible get outside the building and walk it off for thirty minutes and clear your head. If you have very comfortable relationships and friendships in the office and especially after a long term services, the situation might be different for you.

You might want to have a good cry or chat with your colleagues but make sure you are not going to get into any trouble or infringement of your contract pending your exit. There will always be time to say proper good buys and share some emotions with those closer colleagues outside of the office.

Transition out and move forward

Now your going make some critical decisions and take some important steps in preparation to move forward.

  • Ask for a good reference from you boss, employer or HR manager: anything your company can do to enable your finding new employment or lessening the damage will help you.
  • Clear up you personal information: You may have company laptops or phone, chances are you will have a computer. Make sure you clear up any personal information that is not related to the company or has anything to do with you work or employment.
  • Sort out your desk: Make sure you have time to sort out your desk and personal effects, you might have built up quit a collection of plants pictures and personal paperwork around your desk, draws or lockers. Make sure you have time to arrange pack and transport your personal items. Your company should be able to help provide boxes and materials, possibly even courier to help with the move.
  • Portfolio or case studies showcasing your work: Ask permission first, but if you need copies of design work, presentations or achievements that show case your work ask if you can make a copy to use in your portfolio or for job seeking purposes. If your a developer it might be more complicated depending on coding scripts that you have rights to use or keep, however its likely that everything you have done whilst under your employer is 100% owned by them. When in doubt check your contract.
  • Update your linkedIn network: you might have built up a lot of contacts through work that will be relevant to your new job, if you know the person personally, then you have every right to look them up on LinkedIn and request a connection. LinkedIn is a great way to keep in-touch with peers, ex colleagues and clients and especially useful when going through a job change or in this case a redundancy.

Take affirmative action, don’t rest on your laurels

Now that you have cleared house from your work place, its time to turn up the juice. Depending on your own situation, time of life and success in your career, you may want to do one of several things

  • Make an action plan: if like most you don’t have the luxury of not having an income and you have financial obligations then you need to nail an action plan immediately. I recommend making a spread sheet or google sheet or using a free online app like Trello to list out everything you need to do to find your next employment.

Trello

  • Check your financials: Do a self audit, check out your savings if applicable, pensions, credit cards, loans, mortgages, rental costs and anything else that you have going out monthly. Calculate your cash in the bank and outgoings and expenses and generate a forecast. This will give you the run rate of how long you can survive before you need to start seeing an income to cover your costs and lifestyle. Get this wrong and can have devastating consequences for you and your loved ones.
  • Update your resume or CV: After your action plan and financial run rate is sorted, the next thing you want to do is update your resume whilst its fresh, list out you best achievements and request and collect any references. Don’t be shy to ask for help, if your not the best at expressing yourself ask a friend, family member or close contacts that you trust for help taking a look at your resume and perhaps providing some feedback.If you can afford it and you feel you need it, there are a bunch of resume writing and cover letter service providers online, do a google, read some customer feedback review and then if you decide to go ahead. One of their consultant/editors will turn around a polished professional resume for you, so your ready to go.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn is fantastic way to get yourself out there and into the job market. Update your profile, picture, invite any networks via your email import and update your headline, to call out your expertise and that your currently seeking new opportunities.
    Update your LinkedIn ProfileExample: “Experienced Digital Marketing Pro Now Seeking Full Time Work.” Make sure you have network alerts set to on, this will help tell all your connections that your on the market and help get some referrals.
  • Do your research: Make a list of companies that you would like to work for: Make a list of 10-20 companies that you would love to work for. if your over 40 then you have got a wealth of experience to offer, maybe now is the time to go for that dream job you have always wanted. Use linked in and google to conduct research and see if they are hiring, collect the contacts of the recruiter and add them to your list. Make a good cover letter expressing your skills, achievements and experience and start sending them out.sheets_prospector
  • Make a list of 10 -20 good recruitment agencies: and email out your resume with the cover letter. Get yourself out there, the more eyeballs that see your resume the better, that way they know your in the market and there is more opportunity to have the right job in the market fit your skills. Go and meet with some recruiters, they can help your with your interview techniques and help you to polish your resume. A god recruiter will even help provide some career advice and guidance.
  • Directories and Job boards: there are a lot out there, choose a few of the credible ones and register. Upload your resume and fill in your employment history and job profile summary. Most job boards will have an alert feature that can send you email updates when a matching job fits your profile, make sure this is active and follow up with.
  • Do outreach and start networking: Pick up the phone, send email’s and attend networking events, chances are some of your friends or existing contacts are looking for someone with your skills. Use LinkedIn which is developed exactly or HR, recruitment and networking, so use it! join some.
  • Join in the conversation: LinkedIn has a number of groups you can join that are relevant to your industry or expertise. Join several and get involved in the conversation, let people know about your experience. Use the job board to apply for suitable positions that match your interest and get noticed. You can also uses social media, Facebook live broadcasts, twitter periscope, blab and another live streaming networks provide an opportunity to meet and chat with other likeminded peers in real time.
  • Take a break, RnR family time: if your have the luxury of falling into this category, that you have worked hard over the years, got a decent severance payoff, you have got some decent saving behind you, investments, properties or other passive income, or a pension plan lined up and your in no rush to get back to work, then thats fine, if your comfortable with this situation and you can afford some time on the golf course or on the beach then go for it. No harm in pampering yourself whilst you decide your next move.
  • Make a daily calendar: different to your action plan to do list, a daily calendar will help you feel productive and keep a sense of time and urgency to your life. After being laid-off its easy to slump into a routine of TV, Movies and general lethargy You need to keep healthy, eat well, exercise and get out of the house. Take walks, ride bikes, see family and friends, send CV’s attend interviews. Keep a calendar and set a schedule, try using the free google calendar app.
  • Take up some courses: why not brush up on some new skills or posh your existing ones. The worlds changing fast and so is the technology around us, now might be a good time to learn the latest Photoshop design package, or web/mobile development framework. There are a lot of online courses, some are even free which can help you add some new certifications to your resume and also help fill some of your day with productive learning.

Other things you can consider besides full time work to subsidise or reduce the loss of income

If your over 40, then you have had a lot of hands on experience, and most likely worked in a few different locations or companies. perhaps now you might consider taking your experience and packaging it up into a consultancy.

A consultant is person who is paid to provide professional or expert advice in a particular field or specialty, such as advising a company on social media use or on increasing efficiency.  Providing guidance and expertise to the business. Consultants can have long term relationships with their clients and make a good career and money from this type of work.

Consulting can be a good way to stem the gap between exiting a job and being unemployed with no income, also allows you to be selective over your hours and who you want to work with.

Consulting work can be secured through your network and by doing outreach to business and individuals who are seeking support with their business but don’t necessarily have the internal expertise.

To get started as a consultant you should register a simple domain name, from namescheap.com, it could be your own name on .me or whatever suits you best and just upload a few word press pages about your experience what you offer and your contact details.

If you know nothing about the internet, not to worry, head over to upwork or freelancer where you can find someone to help set everything up for $100.

On your website is set up, if your consulting work will involve face to face meetings and onsite work, then get some cards printed up with your contact details and website, again go online to google search for cheap printing and design services or use upwork.

If you can turn your prior work experience into a bit of a case study this will help a potential business looking for some like you to understand how you can help them. Typically consulting work allows you to bill by blocks of time, hours or by project. You may even be able to get a monthly retainer or block booking.

Finally use your network again to tell friends and peers that you are now consulting and to help pass over any referrals, send them your website URL and to the page listing your services or case studies. Always put your contact info and URL in your email signature.

Another alternative is freelancing, its similar to consulting but has a different structure. Freelancers work independently, selling work or services by the hour, day or job, with no intent to pursue a permanent or long-term arrangement with a single employer.

Again this might be a good interim solution whilst you are on the look out for permanent work, in some cases doing a freelance job can lead to a full time position if the employer is satisfied and has an opening.

Losing your job can be sole crushing – if you let it. The key thing to not being beaten by losing your job is knowing your value and taking action. Don’t be complacent and just accept that’s your lot, make a plan and move forward with your life and career. Look at it from the perspective of a fresh start and new a new opportunity in your life.

Your age means you have experience and maturity which most employers today still do value, the whole world is not based on silicon valley whizz kids, (sorry Mark z.) The reality is that it takes a blend of talent and experience to deliver quality solutions, innovation and consistency which is defined beyond of age.

 Since being made redundant I am now working with some partners as a consultant for a digital marketing and social media consultancy, whilst seeking full time employment.

Some of the resources I mentioned in the article are:

Trello
Upwork
Freelancer
Namescheap

Have you been faced with a redundancy or had to deal with losing your job recently, how did you cope and overcome your challenges?
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