I’ve Been Made Redundant Three Times — Here’s What I’ve Learned

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

I’m 27 years old, and I’ve just been made redundant for the third time.

To think I believed my university lecturers were fearmongering when they said it’s hard to find a job after graduation! Well, here I am, more than half a decade later, still searching for stability and financial security (will it ever end!?).

My first redundancy wasn’t shocking. I sold books with boring titles to lawyers on Chancery Lane — “Clinical Negligence: A Practical Guide”, “Drafting Patent and Know-How Licencing Agreements” and “Civil Practice: The Commentary”. They may as well have been written in a different language (I had no idea what I was doing), but I loved the work. And after a few happy years, to no one’s surprise, everything moved online. As far as redundancies go, it was relatively pain-free — more a conscious uncoupling than acrimonious divorce.

The second redundancy was more complicated, and officially it was “voluntary” (although, I’d argue I didn’t really have a choice, seeing as the proposed relocation would’ve added bucket loads of time and money to my already nightmarish commute). The company I worked for merged with a larger competitor and it was tense — suddenly, we were working for for the “enemy”. To be fair, it was a blessing in disguise. At the time, my partner was going through chemotherapy, and it meant I could spend more time at home supporting him, a choice I would’ve made regardless a thousand times over.

When I restarted my job hunt, I wanted a forever home — or at least somewhere I could stay for longer than two years?! And I genuinely thought I found it, which is why this third redundancy came as a huge blow. It was unexpected and, the icing on the cake, I got a miserable one week’s notice, one month from Christmas (everyone’s getting oranges this year).

It’s hard to write about these experiences without a touch of bitterness — but I don’t want to turn this article into a virtual pity party. Instead, I want to highlight everything I’ve learned along the way, in the hope it’ll help someone else.

Being made redundant doesn’t make YOU redundant

If you only remember one thing from this article, remember this — being made redundant doesn’t make YOU redundant.

Every time I was laid off, it was because the company faced financial difficulties. It had nothing to do with my education, skill set or experience. Put bluntly, it wasn’t my fault — I never thought it was for one second.

The problem is, “redundancy” is a stupid word for what happens when a business struggles to keep afloat and has to cut jobs. It suggests the employee is to blame — they’re not needed, not good enough, unnecessary.

In actuality, the business itself is the under-performer — they aren’t in the position to pay for the value you provide.

Age doesn’t matter as much as you think

Ageism is very real — I’ve seen time and time again how older employees, with a wealth of experience and knowledge, are overlooked in favour of graduates or 20-year-old interns.

However, when it comes to companies cutting back, everyone’s at risk.

After leaving university, I naively thought I’d fall into a career and stay there for a long time. I never imagined I’d be on a first-name basis with all the local recruitment agencies or signing on (there’s nothing wrong with either, they just weren’t part of my meticulously crafted, ten-year plan).

Yet here I am, approaching my thirties, with a CV so jam-packed, it’d make you dizzy.

Panic applying to jobs is the worst idea EVER

Don’t fall down the Indeed.com hole — it’s dark, dingy and smells like despair.

After my first and second redundancy, I panic applied to everything — jobs that were underpaid, too far away and wildly outside my area of expertise.

I had retail, marketing and copywriting experience, yet I sent CVs for design jobs (don’t ask), bookkeeping (I actually thought this had something to do with books) and product management (still don’t know what this is).

Needless to say, I didn’t hear back from many of these early applications.

It’s tempting to panic apply, especially with bills looming, but it only leads to anxiety. If you’re applying for ill-suited jobs, the inevitable rejections will only knock your confidence and thicken the shroud of self-doubt.

So, if possible, it’s better to take a step back and think about your next move logically. Give yourself a few weeks to come to terms with your loss (there’s a grieving process after any loss, including that of a job), and then you’ll be in a better position to look for new and rewarding work.

Dare to dream — it might pay off

Money, time and family commitments aside — what would you do if you could do anything in the world?

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to become a full-time yoga teacher — even when I was at work, my thoughts centred around this one thing.

So, after this third redundancy, I’ve decided to take the leap and see whether I can turn my dream into a reality. Thanks to my unemployment, I have the time to take more classes and private clients, and I’m hoping to supplement this with freelance writing gigs and odd jobs (I’m an exceptionally thorough cleaner).

Having a dream or side hustle softens the blow of redundancy, because you already have an idea of what you’d like to do next. Even if you’re in a happy career, it’s a good idea to create a similar backup plan (you never know, you might accidentally discover your true calling).

Anger is good — until it isn’t

I don’t condone unchecked rage — it’s not conducive to healing. BUT the feeling of not being wanted or needed is really hard, we’re only human, and we need to let ourselves feel that immediate anger, betrayal and injustice.

I wouldn’t have gotten through my redundancies so well without bitching, moaning and generally slagging off my ex-employers. Honestly, in the first weeks after finding out, I spent a lot of time seething in pubs and trading war stories with my friends and family. It’s just part of the process.

However, once you’ve got the nastiness out your system, it’s imperative to get back to neutrality. Remember — redundancies aren’t fun for anyone — even managers and their managers.

You deserve a life

One of the most annoying and dehumanising things about the Jobcentre is how it assumes you don’t have a life.

The staff arrange appointments, without asking you when works best, and expect you to make them at any cost. If you don’t? You don’t get the help you’re entitled to.

I might be unemployed, but I have a lengthy to-do list — my spare time is spent writing, teaching or trying to find a bit of extra work.

I’m not available at short notice to travel 80 minutes to the centre, pet-sit or pick up my partner’s parcel. Sure, I can pencil these things in AROUND my other commitments, but my life didn’t magically dissolve along with my 9–5.

If you’re in a similar position, don’t let people push you around. You have every right to live just like anyone else — and this includes going out, buying treats (nobody should begrudge you a pick-me-up) and having FUN.

Obviously, be careful with your money (if you’re lucky, you may have received a redundancy payout) — but it’s essentially yours to manage how you like.

What are your experiences with redundancy?

I’d love to hear about your experiences. How did you cope? Did you learn anything valuable? By sharing our stories, we’ll take away a lot of the shame that surrounds redundancy.

My name’s Ashleigh — yoga teacher and mental health advocate.

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