Surviving redundancy – chapter one

This week marks six months since I was made redundant. After 15 years I left a job I adored, bid farewell to colleagues and clients I admired greatly, and was asked to quit a company I was proud to have been part of. I’m starting out on the blog by sharing some things that I wish I’d known on 13th May.

People are very kind. From the colleagues or distant associates or authors I worked with who took the time and trouble to get in touch, to the member of staff in Pret who gave me far more free coffees than I’m sure she should have, to the trio of librarian friends who took me to lunch, to the neighbour who left an enormous parcel of wine, chocolates and flowers on my doorstep thank you all very much. It’s made me think what I can do when people I know are ‘let go’. Get in touch, don’t be embarrassed, it’s so heartening to know other people are thinking of you.

Get your statement ready so when someone asks ‘how are you?’ or ‘what do you do?’ you can reel it straight off. I can’t emphasis enough how much this matters. This really helped me not to be quite so emotional when I set foot in my former workplace during my consultation period. There was a ghastly time, later, when we were having a drink with a couple on holiday and after my husband spoke for some time about his job – it just so happened the other couple are in the same industry as him – they turned to me and asked what I did and I completely fudged my reply. It made me feel hideously inadequate. Now I say, “I’m really enjoying taking a break whilst I work out my next move, so I’m going on cookery courses, visiting museums, swimming and being a present rather than absent mum”. Confident eh?

Grab the bull by the horns and just do it. I admired the Chair of my former employer very much, so when I left I asked to have time with her. I exited her office a foot higher, head held high, full of advice to: read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, try out a portfolio career, write for the trade press, be with my kids. She also suggested I write a blog; stupidly I let my earlier efforts be derailed by a well-meaning mum who said ‘Oh, don’t, it’s all been said before’. It did my confidence no end of good that she and I had that conversation.