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A simple guide to beating job insecurity

Side-step the job fears. (Source: Getty)
Side-step the job fears. (Source: Getty)

Writing’s often a lonely pursuit. You put your thoughts and research out there and hope it lands well.

I recently wrote a piece for ABC News about the personal struggles jobs seekers face following a redundancy.

I wrote the piece because, I’m told, retrenchments are rising and are now common.

Careers counsellors have told me a new batch of sad, sorry and frazzled job seekers are coming through their doors, with really no clue as to how to move forward.

I did some basic research through the Bureau of Statistics’ archives and discovered that, yes, retrenchments are on the rise.

More importantly, though, I discovered that those in the job queues are anxious. Really anxious. And more so than usual.

Why? Well because the cost of living is rising, and it’s hard to find a new job that pays the same as the old one… And so you just have to pick up whatever work you can in the meantime, to help make ends meet.

That’s why shoppers are holding back on their spending at the moment. I mean why would you splurge on Christmas presents, for example, if you don’t know if you’ll still be in a job next year?

So, let’s look at what you can do if you get the tap on the shoulder from your boss, and shown the door.

1. Take a deep breath

The first think that can happen to an employee if their position is suddenly made redundant is that they go into shock.

A good way to deal with this is to take a deep breath, go for a walk, and talk the experience through with family, a close friend or psychologist.

If the redundancy has been on the table for some time, you may have been dealing with chronic stress. In this case psychological counselling could be an option.

2. Take action

Once you’re over the shock of the retrenchment, or you’re at least taking steps to deal with it, you can start moving forward again with your career.

This is where careers counsellors can help.

Linda Jeffrey is a member of the National Executive Committee for the Career Development Association of Australia or CDAA.

She’s also a careers counsellor. Here’s a transcript of what she said to me about why she does what she does:

“Most of the time people might feel a bit hopeless, but it’s not hopeless. There are positives. To be able to see people recognise that is very satisfying.”

3. Develop a plan

Careers counsellors say that as you progress through the redundancy process you’ll recognise how important it is to have a plan.

Actually, an old rule of thumb is to treat redundancy like a full-time job. That is, get up at 8am and start work (your search for a job) at 9am, at a desk (either at home or at a café).

There are plenty of things to do:

  • Revaluate where you want to take your career. Are you happy doing what you’re doing, or is it time for a change?

  • Is your job still relevant, or has it evolved, and if it has evolved, can you evolve with it?

  • Update your resume and ask a careers counsellor if your resume is up to snuff

  • Do you have an online profile via social media accounts? Do you need one?

  • Hit the phones and re-connect with old contacts

4. Recruitment companies

One of the first phone calls you might make is to a recruitment company. Their job is to place you into work.

Beware, though, they will be especially keen just to place you, so make sure you’ve given them a very clear brief as to what you’re looking for.

And, if it’s early days, stay firm on what you want. You’re a valuable commodity, remember.

5. Further education

Often when positions are made redundant, however, it’s because an organisation no longer needs them.

In this case, you may need to undertake further education and training.

For those with some savings, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. For those who are cash-strapped it gets a little tricky.

There are some options available in terms of assistance.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash, told me that the Morrison Government is working hard to assist more Australians into employment, including providing direct support to job seekers over 45 years of age through the Career Transition Assistance program.

UTAS also has free university tuition for 1 year for people who have been made redundant.

6. Temporary work

In the short-term though, and while you’re actively looking for work, consider taking on temporary employment.

There’s a funny logic to this: you might say, why would I take on a job at a call centre earning $20 an hour? The reality is though that every dollar you earn is a dollar you don’t lose by not working.

In addition, it shows an interviewer that you’ve been busy, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get back on your feet.

It’s not you, it’s me

Hang in there: that would be my main message.

And I can’t stress this enough, when you lose your job through redundancy, it’s the position that’s been made redundant, not you.

I’ve only faced redundancy once, and it was very early in my career, but, in a way, I’m glad it happened. It helped me to realise that very little in life is ‘secure’, and when a crisis hits, you must rise to the challenge.

So, the best way to approach your career is to be prepared for set-backs, take the hits as they come, and pride yourself on being resilient.

That’s a path to success.

David Taylor is a Sydney-based financial commentator covering consumer finance, business, and the economy. Tweet him at @DaveTaylorNews.

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