Redundancy, whether it comes as a complete surprise or not, is nearly always disruptive. However you interpret or react – feeling confused, angry and depressed, or relieved and even optimistic – it helps not to be reactive. If you can start by taking a step back, you never know: it might just be blessing in disguise.
‘Very often people are so busy and distracted at work that they lose sight of whether their career is actually working for them in the way they want,’ says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management. ‘Redundancy forces you to re-evaluate, to make conscious decisions about what you want career-wise.’
‘So often, people just want the disruption to go away by trying to get another job as quickly as possible’
Avoid the panic cycle
The danger is that you go straight into panic mode, points out Eleanor Tweddell, founder of Another Door and author of Why losing your job could be the best thing that ever happened to you.
‘So often, people just want the disruption to go away, and they do it by trying to get another job as quickly as possible,’ she says. ‘Jumping on LinkedIn and applying 70 times a day for jobs you don’t even want sends you into a panic cycle. You might get 75 rejections, which will make you feel worse. Therefore, if you take time, think about what you really want, do research on the jobs that matter to you, and put in 10 really good applications, you’re more likely to get a positive outcome.’
If you remain committed to a career as a finance professional, then the current skills shortage means the job market is currently tilted in your favour.
‘Employers are finding it tough to recruit good candidates right now, so if you wanted to change direction then you may find them more receptive than usual,’ she says. ‘However, if you need a new job quickly, then a similar role, or one that has lots of parallels with your current one, could give you the financial security you need while you continue to look for your ideal job.’
‘Don’t be afraid to get the next move wrong. You can try something and change your mind’
Stick, twist or bust
Tweddell talks about having three choices: stick, twist or bust. ‘Stick to what you’re doing, but find a way to upgrade: a better company, terms, locations, hours – whatever works for you.’ Twist means you ‘stick to your expertise but twist how you deliver it: go freelance, be a consultant, teach it.’ Finally, with bust, you ‘throw everything in the air, start again, retrain, start a business, do something completely different.’
The choice must be yours and you need to know why you are doing it, she continues. ‘Don’t be afraid to get the next move wrong. You can try something and change your mind. The key is to try and give yourself the best chance of doing something you enjoy. Don’t rush into making a decision. Know why you are doing what you are doing and give new things at least three months before you decide what’s next.’
‘Change is all around us, whether we acknowledge it or not’
Whichever direction you choose, it’s all about embracing change and realising that it’s a part of life.
‘Change is all around us, whether we acknowledge it or not,’ says Tweddell. ‘Every day brings us micro changes, and we deal with them. Maybe your usual way to work was blocked, so you find another way. Maybe the shop didn’t have your usual item, so you find a substitute. We are better at change than we think.
‘If you want to progress, then your ability to enable and lead change will be essential’
‘You have everything you need to handle anything that comes your way. Anyone who goes through macro change in their lives will say that they didn’t realise how resilient and how adaptive they would be when they had to be.’
‘Change can be unsettling but it’s also how you build your career,’ says Mills. ‘Working with new people and systems extends both your professional networks and your knowledge. Playing a positive part in bringing about organisational change proves your adaptability, which can open up career possibilities internally and makes you easier to hire externally.
‘If you want to progress to management or leadership levels, then your ability to enable and lead change will be essential, so look for ways in your current role where you can effect positive change and use these experiences as career achievements that demonstrate your readiness for your next career step.’
Visit ACCA’s Careers hub for more guidance and jobs listings