Redundancy – what it taught me

Black and white photo of a desk top with a laptop, pair of glasses, pen, mug of tea and Hello Kitty headphones

A year ago today I was made redundant.

I found out in October 2016 that I would be losing my job. With my redundancy officially taking effect at the end of February 2017.

The idea of redundancy excited me a bit. Although I wasn’t leaving a job I hated, I was leaving a job that had started out as a stop gap after uni. Eight and a half years later I was still there. I’d been applying for other jobs on and off for years but got nowhere. And to be honest, it was hardly surprising. I was applying for jobs in a completely different field, and not really in a position to take a pay cut. Redundancy was the push I needed to get myself on a different career path. And the opportunity to take a pay cut with the safety of a redundancy payout.

I started applying for jobs straight away, I applied for entry-level jobs. Jobs paying minimum wage. I applied to companies I really wanted to work for (Schuh I’m talking about you). I had many rejections. Many I didn’t hear back from. Redundancy very quickly sucked. For the best part of a year I was out of work, and at times I really struggled. Ten months out of work gives you a lot of time to think, and I learned some stuff about myself during this time.

I LEARNED I NEED TO WORK. I had about 10 months out of work. And honestly, I hated it. I’ve been working full time since I was 20. I actually enjoy working (so long as it’s Monday-Friday, sociable hours). I enjoy doing a good job. Helping people and problem-solving is something I like. Work is part of my identity, as it is with many people. For me, I’ve always thrived more in a work environment compared to, for example, studying. I like the instant results of work, like seeing something you’ve put time into coming together. And seeing your wages in the bank at the end of the month.

I LEARNED THAT I DIDN’T MISS BUYING NEW “STUFF”. I definitely had to curb my spending while having no regular income. And I didn’t enjoy that. I like buying new clothes and shoes. But what I really missed was experiences. I had to cancel plans with friends because I couldn’t justify spending the money on nights out. At points even putting fuel in my car was a struggle. Missed blogger events were also something that happened on occasion. Partly because I couldn’t really afford the train fare, and partly because I wasn’t feeling in the mood to “network” and make chat with people. When you already feel lonely this just makes the feeling of isolation a lot worse.

I LEARNED THAT I’M NOT AT A POINT TO WORK FOR MYSELF. The idea of working for yourself is great. Get to sit in your pj’s all day, awesome. Not have anyone tell you what to do, awesome. Having to generate your own work, not so awesome. I think I was a point where my confidence was at rock bottom. I didn’t feel I was good enough to approach people and ask them to hire me. You need to feel that you kill it at whatever you want to do to be able to do this. There is also the problem of no regular income, and having to chase invoices. I’m still chasing one from October!! And although it’s not a lot of money it’s the principle. I can’t live like that, not knowing if someone will actually pay me money I’m due.

I (RE)LEARNED I LOVE BLOGGING. One of the good things about unemployment was that I had time to blog more. It’s difficult to fit in everything in that you want to do if you work full time. Sometimes you don’t even have the capacity to think about more than making dinner and getting comfy on the sofa at night. Having the time to blog more reignited my love of it. I gave my blog a (much needed) revamp and feel a lot better about how it looks.

I LEARNED THAT I NEED TO BE BUSY TO KEEP BUSY AND BE PRODUCTIVE. This sounds weird I know. But I seriously lacked motivation when I was off. In between applying for jobs, studying a bit and going to the gym, I watched a lot of Netflix. I seem to get my get up and go later on in the day. But, if I feel like my time is a bit more precious I use it better.

I LEARNED WORKING 8-4 FOR YEARS KILLED ME. I’m the type of person that needs A LOT of sleep. A morning person I am not. For a lot of my years at HSBC I worked 8-4, I had to get up at 5:30 am once I moved over to Fife. It was exhausting. But it was my routine and it’s what I did. Once I stopped having to do that every morning I realised just how bad it was. It made me feel pretty certain I didn’t want to start another job that had such an early start. Now I have about the same commute as before but I start at 9 am and I’m nowhere near as tired!

I LEARNED NOT TO SETTLE AND TRUST MY GUT. I’ve spoken before about trusting my gut, you can read about it here. There is something about getting made redundant that makes you realise how unimportant and replaceable you really are. It also makes you question your loyalty to a company. To the people who make the decisions, you’re probably just a staff number. When I was getting close to leaving I remember worrying about getting another job and hating it. Someone pointed out to me that if you start a job you hate, you don’t have to stay.

 

I wouldn’t wish redundancy on anyone. In theory, it seems great. In reality, it’s extremely stressful, especially if you don’t get a new job quickly. But in every situation, there’s always some good to come out of it. Sometimes it’s the push people need to make that career change or take the plunge to start their own business. For me, it gave me the push I needed. I’ve been craving a change for years.

Have you ever been made redundant? What was your experience?

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

Photo by me

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