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How to bounce back after retrenchment by Lizette Volkwyn Master Life Coach

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South Africa

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How to bounce back after retrenchment or a job loss


Got retrenched? Here’s how to recover and step up

One of the most devastating feelings is the realization of the loss of your income. It puts you in an immediate spiral of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Retrenchment affects you emotionally and the whole process can be experienced as traumatic. Sadly, it does not only affect the laid-off employee but also those who are still employed with the company. The secret of bouncing back after a retrenchment process is key for your survival and future independence.

South Africa is currently at a 35,2% unemployment rate, which is understandably an amplifier to all the fears and anxiety. It’s devastating stats if you have been retrenched and are forced back in line with the other thousands and thousands of job seekers.

How do you bounce back and recover after retrenchment? Here are ten tips to get back on track and stay focused to align yourself for the next best thing:

  1. Involve your family immediately and strengthen your support system

If you have been retrenched, you shouldn't go through this alone. For many of us it is difficult to be on the receiving end of support, and most probably the most challenging one to address. It asks us to show our vulnerability and dependability to our support system.

If you are alone, and you do not have family, friends, or an ex-colleague with who you could talk to, and share your fears and worries, this retrenchment could get you down quite quickly. Most of the time all we need is a soundboard to put everything into perspective.

The importance of our support system is vital for our wellbeing and contributes to the way we will position ourselves in the future. It is in times like these we allow our family and friends to give back to us, whether it is financially, emotionally, or spiritually, and brings us closer to humanity. It strengthens our core values of Family, Friends, and Support. Don’t tackle this alone.

  1. Assess your rights and ensure that you have received all benefits allowed

There are a lot of resources available online to know your rights once you have been retrenched. If this isn’t your area of speciality make sure to connect with a financial coach or an accountability partner, which can view and advise on your rights from an objective point of view.

One of my clients, who has worked for the company for over 15 years, accepted his retrenchment without questioning what was due to him. He was comfortable accepting a 3-month severance package. After consulting with a labour lawyer he realized he qualified for 30 weeks of remuneration from the same company.  This bought him an additional four months of income.

  1. Re-adjust your personal budget and speak to your creditors

Even if you receive a severance payout, you still need to have a plan for how you will tackle your financial commitments in the months to come.

  1. Deal with the emotions, then park it

Emotions are rife when we hear the devastating news that we have been retrenched and our livelihood has been taken away from us.

Most of the time, a process has been followed and we are aware of what might happen, yet we hope that this time we will be safe.

Whether we are expecting it or not, the shock is the same. Anger, disbelief, fear, disappointment and resentment follow suit... and it is in these moments that we must acknowledge the emotions, understand why we are having the feelings, and then park it.

It isn’t simple. “I am angry, disappointed, ashamed, and anxious that I have just lost my job.” All of the above feelings are symptoms of underlying deeper core values. Let me explain: If job security, independence, stability, fairness are part of your core values, the emotions derive from them and this will direct you on what you should focus on as a next step. Thus, in this case, you will have to focus on new opportunities that would give you independence, stability, etc. If you balance these core values you will be able to move on.

  1. Assess the facts for what it is

Now that you understand the emotions you can park it and focus on the facts and the requirements to get back into the workplace without blurred perceptions of emotions or resentment.

Yes, you have lost your immediate income. You have to get back into the marketplace sooner rather than later. But, at the same time, you have a backup plan – if you are one of the lucky ones to have received a severance package, it will carry you for a certain period. You could accept temporary work; you can adjust your cost of living and you are in good health.

Turn your dead-end into a cul-de-sac, turn around and seek the opportunities that await you.

  1. Evaluate what you really want out of your career

A job is a thing you do, not a place you go to. It is a means to the things you need and want. A means to celebrate life and pursue your passion. If it is a paycheck, was it worth it? If it is your passion, is it giving you the life you want?

Perhaps you hated to go into the office and you were undervalued. Now could be the perfect time to launch your consulting business. Or, you always loved baking, now you could do it full-time and actually have more time to spend with your kids. Even though it may feel like a death sentence, it isn’t.

  1. Broaden your network

Ensure to update your LinkedIn profile and connect with the right people. Join free webinars and network with like-minded individuals. Ask for recommendations from previous colleagues to help you in your next job search.

Give your former colleagues a call and hear where they are career-wise.  Perhaps there may even be open opportunities at their current employer?

  1. Update your CV and target companies you would like to join

Don’t just send a generic CV – make sure you stand out, and tailor each CV with a pitch of why you will be a great asset to that target company. Be sure to focus on your accomplishments and what you have achieved in your previous role.

If you are a job seeker, it is tough out there, but if you maintain good spirits and ensure you do everything to stand out, there will be a silver lining.

  1. Embrace who you are and your core values

When you know who you are and what you stand for….you would know which opportunities to value and which you would walk away from.

When you know your strengths you will be able to pursue opportunities that will give you positive results, not just a quick fix of just having a job.

I had a client in the sales industry. She was laid off for non-performance, even though she was a high performer at all her previous companies. She was devastated. How could she face this humiliation? Together, we started to re-trace the steps of the last company. Besides the fact that it was completely out of her niche, she also took the position out of desperation to just have some sort of basic salary. Everything about this company was wrong for her.

Her core values are Trust, Integrity, Support, Stability, Respect, and Understanding just to name a few. This company did not do all the deals above board. She was a fish out of water. Her lay-off was a blessing in disguise.

After I have shown her the value of core values in the process of decision-making, she managed to focus on the right company and is now a top Senior Manager at a well-established firm.

  1. Re-brand and position yourself for the next career move

This is probably the most exciting tip of them all. This is your opportunity to press the restart button.

Take time out and evaluate what it is you really want to present? Which industry attracts you and your core values? Which position would you like to find yourself in whether it be a manager, sales, support, etc? This is your time to plan your career with all the experience and know-how you have gained in the past. It is time to create the life you want.

Obviously, time is of the essence and you would like to see yourself back earning, but desperate moves could set you back rather than moving you forward. Knowing who you are, understanding how you want to position yourself does not take months and with the right guidance, you can have it aligned in less than a week.

This is always the time to enroll for short courses or certifications to improve your chances for a new role. Udemy, Teachable, and Learnworlds, are great online platforms that offer courses for you to consider.

Re-branding also asks of you to do introspection, understand what went wrong, and if anything did go wrong, or was it just purely an economic decision? Remember, NOTHING in this world is personal. This is the time to embrace your strengths and strengthen and grow your developmental areas. Successful people have been moulded through their setbacks just to achieve their highest goals thereafter.

I would like to use Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC, as an example, who re-invented himself at the age of 65, just before he planned to commit suicide. Going on retirement with only a $105 government subsidy he realized he has never put his hand to cooking. He re-branded himself and became a billionaire at the age of 88. What is stopping you today to re-invent, re-brand, and position yourself as a leader in your peer group?

Whether it is a retrenchment, job loss, or a career setback, the power lies within you to steer your career in the right direction, don’t let others define who you are.

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