By Lisa Simpson from Uncommon Cents for Ladies Finance Club
In September 2019 I was so excited to start a new position doing something that I love and am passionate about. I could hardly believe the joy I had at going to work every day.
A few weeks into the role, whilst I was still learning more about the position and the systems that I needed to use my team was all received ‘that’ email. “We have a meeting at 3pm this afternoon that you MUST attend. Cancel any other appointment you already have to be there!” Uh Oh…
This is not the first time that I have been impacted by the “you must be at a late afternoon meeting”. I remember the first time this happened to my husband and I many years ago when we both worked at Lee Jeans in Victoria.
Nor was it the second time, or the third time when on New Year’s Eve I received a call from the CEO to say we had been unsuccessful in getting more funding for my role so, “Happy New Year, you’re out of a job!” Or when my husband was called to a 4pm meeting to be told “we have gone into Administration, don’t bother returning to work tomorrow, you no longer have a job” or even the fourth time when in January this year before Covid was hardly in anyone’s vocabulary and he was called into the “you must attend at 3pm” meeting, only to be told “we have no more work for you due to international borders being closed, and no more students allowed into the country”. That was his last day. No goodbyes, no farewells or well wishes from colleagues.
Hence my apprehension in attending this meeting!
The outcome of that meeting: “we have decided to no longer run this ‘fabulous’ program so your job will be made redundant on June 30th, 2020! You have 9 months to live with the knowledge that you will be out of a job.” I don’t mind telling you I was devasted. I tried to tell myself and my family I was ok, but later that night, (whilst we had visitors) it suddenly hit me and I disappeared into the spare bedroom and couldn’t stop crying.
It was unfair, it made no sense! Why did they engage me in this role since they had been considering this layoff for some while? What would I do then? Why bother trying to learn the role only to come to a short end? If you’re reading this, you may relate to some of these questions and the emotion behind them.
I had the most amazing female boss who was also losing her job and yet she called us together for a meeting and allowed us all to vent. There were tears, there was sadness, there was anger, there was more questions (that couldn’t be answered at that time) and there was shock.
Being made redundant comes in all different forms and for lots of different reasons. Some redundancies are short and sharp, others can drag out like mine did. Some feel like the death of a family relative and others completely blindside you.
Being made redundant can happen for a lot of reasons besides Covid, here are just a few that may sound familiar to you.
Despite the various reasons, here are a few things I have learned on what to do next, in no particular order.
You do not need to have the answer for “what comes next” immediately
Take time to let the situation unfold and consider your options. Ask your manager any questions you have as they arise. Talk to your colleagues and share any anxiety you are feeling. There’s a good chance they feel the same.
Create room to express your feelings
Talk to someone you trust and supports you. It’s ok to have all the emotions of grief.
Take up the offer of support through Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
Being made redundant is more than losing your position and income. It can feel like a loss of identity and ‘who am I now.’ Our self-care is so important, especially at these times.
Consider if now is the time for a career change
Sometimes being made redundant can be a blessing in disguise as it forces us to re-evaluate what we are doing and how much we enjoy it. I know one of my team members took this time to return to Study and do a course in something she had always wanted to do. Another of my colleagues realised it was time to stay home and Home school her child who had special needs. Another decided it was time to focus on starting her own business.
Contact Services Australia (Centrelink) about applying for Jobseeker
Be aware that if you have received a redundancy package, you may be subject to a waiting period before you can get an income support payment from Centrelink. To find out what services you are eligible for call the Centrelink Employment Services Line on 13 28 50 or visit your local Centrelink Service Centre.
If your employer went bankrupt or into liquidation or administration, you may be able to claim some of your unpaid entitlements through the Fair Entitlements Guarantee This is where the Australian Government provides financial assistance to cover certain unpaid employment entitlements to eligible employees who lose their job due to the liquidation or bankruptcy of their employer. There are strict timelines for this so contact them immediately.
Review your finances and your budget
At Ladies Finance Club we always speak about having an Emergency Fund. These are the times you’ll be grateful you have one. Make sure you know what you need to cover the 4 basics, Housing, Food, Utilities and Transport.
Often our reaction to being made redundant can be more overwhelming if we are overextended financially or know we don’t have any savings to get us through the next period. If you are unable to pay your mortgage or any other debts you have, seek help by speaking to a Financial Counsellor who can help advocate on your behalf with your creditors. You can find a local FC by calling the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
Apply for new roles
One of the biggest fears I have observed is the dreaded Resume, writing application letters and Key Selection Criteria! ARGH! We agonise over this only to be told they hardly read them and barely skim over them.
Ask your HR department for help in finding a new position or if they can assist you in updating your Resume. Our HR offered to review our Resumes and assisted in editing them. They also gave provided us with information on writing applications and interview skills.
Seek professional help with your Resume if necessary. I am amazed at the skill some people have in pulling together a resume to produce an excellent representation of the client’s skill sets.
When you are successful in getting an interview, practice, practice, practice! There are some fabulous resources on YouTube on interview questions and how to respond.
Ask your family and friends what your strengths and weaknesses are, what you have achieved in your role, some of the ways you were ‘innovative’ in your last role (a question that often comes up in interviews?!) They’ll tell you 😊 , ah family can be so honest!
Ask your colleagues about some of the questions they were asked in interviews so that you can prepare your answers.
Confirm with your Manager if they are prepared to be a Reference check contact for you. I have found not all Managers are prepared to do this. Better to know before you give their name away.
Believe in yourself! You can get through this, I know!