Beyond redundancy: 6-point guide for creative people
Last Updated on 11 September 2020
Losing a job through no fault of your own can be hard. But redundancy isn’t the end, it’s the start of the next stage in your life.
I’ve been through redundancy (twice!) and have been training people how to set up on their own for 15 years. Below are some tips and advice.
We cover all this and more in our ‘Beyond Redundancy: Setting up as a Sole Trader’ workshops. If you’re moving from employment to self-employment – or know someone else who is – you need to click here:
1 Before you leave
Sometimes the temptation is to storm off and give the soon-to-be-former boss some choice words. But remember that your employer might be able to help in two important ways:
1. They have statutory duties to you as their employee.
There are laws about how redundancies are managed. You’re due things like written confirmation, and should be entitled to redundancy pay if you’ve been with them for more than two years. You can double check these entitlements using gov.uk. and with your union if you’re a member.
2. They might be open to persuasion around retraining or other support.
Even though it’s not compulsory, some employers will have a training fund to help give you new skills and soften the blow of redundancy.
Other sources of support
Make sure your union rep knows what’s going on. Their role is to help members get what they’re owed and support them through the process.
Above all, don’t sit around moaning. You may want to work for some of these people in the future. Grumpy and bitter is not a good look.
2 Rediscover your skills
Remember that it’s the job that’s closed, not you. You are a valuable bundle of skills, and all those skills go with you into your next job.
Many people lose sight of their range of skills, particularly if they’ve been in a specific job role for years. And going through redundancy can make us question whether we have any skills. (Answer: Yes you have!)
Make a list of all your skills, not just the job roles. Think about what skills you’ve had to develop for each job or role you’ve ever had. Include the ‘soft’ skills, like working in a team or being highly organised.
Don’t leave anything out. Even being able to drive a car or speak another language puts you ahead of others.
This is hard to do on your own. A colleague who knows you well might be able to help and highlight things you’ve missed.
3 Take control
Redundancy can feel like the world has just dumped on you. So it’s important to get back in control quickly and avoid a victim mentality.
Take time to clear your head, and find ways of talking about yourself that are forward-looking and optimistic. If someone says “what are you up to these days” don’t reply “I’ve been made redundant”. Instead, put yourself in the driving seat. Think of active phrases like
“I’m taking a break before my next job.”
“I’m planning my new business.”
“I’m looking for a new role as a…”
Above all, help people to understand that you’re actively shaping your own future. This will keep you feeling positive.
4 It’s your future – so don’t rush it
A redundancy process can be a great opportunity to consider what direction your career might take. Many people talk about redundancy in retrospect as a ‘kick up the backside’ to get on with something they’ve been thinking about for a while.
Don’t just rush into something that replicates what you’ve been doing in the previous job. Take time to think about other opportunities. These could include:
- a different job role
- moving to a different city
- retraining into another industry
- setting up as self-employed
5 Plan your job searching
Looking for a job is a job in itself. Treat it like a military campaign!
Find a space at home that can be your campaign HQ. Organise your job applications into folders. Get your CVs and online profiles in order.
Don’t forget to check your social media. If you apply for a job assume they’ll Google you or look for you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Delete anything that’s contentious or embarrassing.
Allocate times of the day or week for job hunting and related activities such as research or re-training. Keep these separate from other parts of your life. Make sure you give yourself “time off” from job hunting.
Organisations that can help you keep in the loop include:
5 Don’t ignore the finances
For many it’s the financial changes that bring the biggest concern. The best way to deal with money worries is to look them in the eye.
The first step is to examine your spending habits and be aware of where your money is going. You need to know how much your lifestyle normally costs.
You’ll also need to give yourself a job-hunting budget. It needn’t be much, but it can cover travel to interviews, travel and drink money for networking, and maybe some training.
Don’t ignore benefits
There may be some state benefits you are due because you’ve gone through redundancy.
The most obvious one is jobseekers allowance (JSA). It’s available if you’ve been working for a while (and therefore making National Insurance contributions), and are then made redundant. Remember that JSA can’t be back-dated, to start sorting it out before your job closes.
In some parts of the UK you may also have local support to get back in to work. For example if you live in Wales the Welsh Assembly funds training and support for people going through redundancy.
6 Stay positive
It’s rare that people are successful every time they apply for a job. Don’t take it personally if you are unsuccessful at first. Try to find out why you weren’t successful (don’t make assumptions) and then quickly move on to focus on the next opportunity.
Here are some ways of boosting your morale:
- Regular sleep and regularly meal times will help your body and mind feel strong.
- Set up a support group of friends, and meet regularly for a chat and a laugh.
- Put time aside to continue with hobbies and non-work related activities.
- Get physical! A bit of exercise goes a long way to improving your mood, whether it’s swimming, cycling, running, jogging or walking
- Consider volunteering for a local charity. It helps you keep to a routine, gets you out of the house and keeps you in touch with other people. It also looks good on a CV and LinkedIn.
If you’re finding it’s all getting you down, don’t keep it bottled up. Talk to a friend or family-member. You’ll also get a sympathetic ear from your GP, and organisations such as the Film and TV Charity are there for you 100% of the time.
Staying positive is perfectly possible with support.
Above all, keep focused on the future and the exciting opportunities that are out there waiting for you.
And if you’re setting up as a sole trader, join us on one of the courses below:
This post is based on a Creative Toolkit Helpnote, which I wrote for the union BECTU. You can download a PDF version along with with many other Helpnotes for creatives in production and theatre at creativetoolkit.org.uk
Posted on 01 September 2020