The R Word

The R Word – the word of 2020 most likely to fill you with dread, the word no one wants to hear, the word you suspect is just around the corner, but surely won’t come knocking at your door??!! Will it? Can it? Please don’t....not me!

Having been made redundant earlier this year as a result of the pandemic and its’ devastating effect on the global economy, I found myself unemployed for the first time in my entire (somewhat lengthy) career. As someone who spends all day, every day, speaking to job seekers and understanding their reasons for leaving a job in favour of another, I had always viewed redundancy as something that happened to other people. With a sympathetic nod in their direction, I moved them on quickly to bigger and better things - redundancy was something that happened in large organisations or when a business was sold, or an office was relocated. It didn’t happen to little old me.

Yet here I was, on the heap, left adrift, out at sea with nowhere to go...and at a time when the entire global economy had ground to a halt. Many people had already lost their jobs, many people had seen their incomes cut and unemployment rates increased across all major economies.

So, what was I to do? Was there life in the old dog yet? Could I summon up the courage to look for a new job at a time when no jobs were being released and the new norm was to have lost your job rather than to have secured a new one.

Redundancy affects people differently – it can cause embarrassment, it can make you feel secretive, it can make you close down emotionally and distance yourself from others. Others kindness towards you can be your undoing – you can feel down, depressed, without hope and consumed with thoughts about how you are going to pay your bills and survive this period of your life. Or you can come out fighting – you can dig deep, find strength (sometimes from a place so deep within you, you didn’t know you had it in you) and tackle the situation at 100mph. And that’s what I did.

I built structure into my day. I was set up and job searching by 8.00am every day. I treated my search for a new role as a job in itself. I made notes (lots of them), I accessed every social media site I could think of, I left my pride at the door and asked others for help (whether that was for a recommendation on LinkedIn or the name of someone I could approach directly within an organisation). I reconnected with colleagues. I wrote and rewrote my CV. I registered on so many job sites that I had a tracker just to keep track of them. I registered with numerous agencies and was pleasantly persistent in all that I did. I never let my fears surface. I never let others see my frustration at this most unfair of situations. I forced myself to be positive, upbeat and assured.

Not once did I doubt myself – I had this, I could do this, it was just a matter of time. And then my luck turned and oh, how it turned. I contacted a business directly that I really liked the look of; one I had admired for some time and thought could be a good fit for me. I aimed high – one thing I had realised during this time was to connect properly, go right to the top. Be brave and contact the Founder/CEO - you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so. And it paid off for me. I contacted my (now) new employer on the off chance that they may be looking to hire and within minutes, the answer came back as a BIG FAT YES! We arranged to speak the next day, we had a video call the next and then met up face to face just a few days later.

I am a great believer in things happening for a reason (good and bad) in life and while this period of my life was certainly stressful, scary, uncertain and daunting...it also allowed me the time to assess what I really wanted in my life on both a business and personal level. Fate favoured me and I have now joined the most wonderful company; one I can genuinely see myself in for the long term and one where I immediately felt at home, welcomed and part of the team.

The R Word is real, it does happen and it will happen. But do not fear it. Embrace the opportunity it presents (on so many levels) and use your time to positively influence what you do next and how you get there. Positivity is free and priceless – if you feel lacking in that area, reach out to someone who has it in bucket loads (we all have at least one person in our life like that) and let them carry you for a while. Leave your pride at the door, ask for help and above all be proactive – it will happen. Pleasant and positive persistence pays!

Looking for CV or interview preparation coaching?

Lily has over eight years' experience working with PAs, EAs and business support professionals. She personally works with PAs and EAs who are looking to prepare for an upcoming interview or are looking for advice on how to make their CV stand out. 

Victoria Coghlan

Victoria Coghlan heads up Lily Shippen's London office. She has over twenty years' secretarial recruitment experience.

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Topics from this blog: Recruitment Careers

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