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I've just been retrenched.

By Ruth Tearle

"Help. I've just been retrenched. I feel like I have fallen off a bus. Nothing is the same. It is as if I no longer exist."
Right now, many people are being retrenched. You are not alone. If this is happening to you right now, then read further.

How you may be feeling.

It is normal and natural to feel a major disaster has struck you. Like "the carpet has been pulled out from under your feet", or you have 'fallen off a bus". Nothing is the same. No one will take the time to explain why this has happened to you or what criteria they used to retrench you, and not someone else. People simply don't return your calls. It is as if you no longer exist. Some people tell you it is your fault. You were too outspoken. Too honest. Too smart. Too... yourself. You keep asking yourself "Why me?" You find yourself waking up at night in a sweat. Maybe you should have acted differently. But then, you wouldn't have been you. And you suspect that those criticising you are simply voicing their own insecurities. You try to hold your head up high. You try not to feel ashamed about what is happening to you. Because you know, deep down, you have nothing to feel ashamed about.


StopDon't panic. As the song says "You got knocked down, but you will get up again." You are stonger and more resilient than you think. And there are more opportunities out in that big, wonderful world than you can imagine right now.

Put this time in perspective.

  • You are not dying. You don't have a life threatening disease. This is something you can recover from. All that is stolen from you, is a job. You still have all your talents, strengths and experience. You still have your family and friends. Your networks. Your hobbies.
  • This one week in your life, is but one out of 52 weeks in a year - out of one of the many years that will make up your life time of work.
  • This is not the end of your working career. This is simply a T-junction in your career. A time where you are forced to stop and choose the direction you will travel next.

Understand the change cycle: why you feel the way you do.

Understand that you are in the first stage of "The change cycle". If you've been on one of our training courses, or you have read "Mastering Personal Change" or "Ride the Wild Tiger", you will recognise the feeling associated with being 'pushed out of your comfort zone'. You will know that the sooner you 'let go' of your old job, and work through the anger you feel towards the company, the sooner you will regain your confidence, and be able to create a new and better life for yourself.

Make a choice

You've heard it before. "Its not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you." Well this is the time these words really mean something. So choose. Are you going to be a victim or a hero? Will you wait for others to make it right for you and do what they should, or will you go out there and make it happen for yourself. Will you see this as something unfair that happened to you, or will you simply bounce back.

What to do while you work your notice

Right now, while you are working your notice period, there are a few things you can do.

  • Get your CV up to date. Your CV is your marketing document. So ensure it looks good. Check the spelling. Check everything is up to date.
  • Organise your contacts. Put all your contacts onto a database, and take a copy onto a flash drive.
  • Get an email account. e.g. Gmail accounts are free. And if you want people in your network to pass on information about new jobs or contacts to you, make it easy for them to do so. Ensure everyone of your contacts has your new email address.
  • Send your CV out to everyone in your network, to career websites, associations in your field and to head hunters.
  • Get onto social networking sites and join discussion groups in your fields. Many recruiters begin their search for talent, by looking at social networking sites like linkedin. Join linked in, and join discussion groups that you are interested in. Get yourself known on discussion groups in your field.
  • Look after your self esteem. One of the first things that retrenchment affects, is self esteem. It is vital to work on your confidence as recruiters hire people who are confident and positive rather than bitter and angry. To restore your confidence do exercises such as:
  • Make a list of your strengths
  • Read inspirational books
  • Read an inspirational card every day.
  • Spend time with people who encourage you and lift your energy.
  • Write a motivational letter to yourself.

Take stock of your career and your life.

If you have been retrenched you have been given a gift of time. You have at least one month to work your notice, plus a few months of retrenchment fees to live on. So you have a good few months of paid time during which you can explore your options. So use this time to take stock of your career.

Where are you now in your career? What did you love about the job you have just lost - that you'd like to have in a future job? What frustrated you in your old company? What did you used to feel you were missing out on? What do you want in the next chapter of your career? What do you love doing? What would you love to do? What do you still need to learn?

Consider reading some books on careers like "What colour is your parachute." or books to inspire you to follow your destiny - like "Blackboards, Bubbles & Cappuccinos" or go on a career counselling course or get career coaching.

Take financial pressure off yourself

Speak to a qualified financial advisor about ways to reduce financial pressure on yourself, until you find your next job. This includes, understanding what retrenchment package you're entitled to, looking at ways to live with less income, managing debts you may have, and understanding your full financial picture. Find a financial advisor in your area to talk to.

Explore the world

There is a big, amazing world of opportunities out there - if you are prepared to open your mind. The more you 'get out there', the more opportunities will be available to you. Consider:

  • Different industries that use your type of skills.
  • Different media such as career sites and social networking sites.
  • Network with people in your field. Go on training courses or conferences.
  • Consider new career choices or jobs you could do with a similar set of skills.
  • Get odd jobs or work that allows you to keep earning, or to learn new skills.
  • Do volunteer work in jobs that may get you known to new networks.

The most important thing is to face the challenge head on. Get out there. Get positive. Learn new skills. Meet new people. Contribute in different ways. And create your own luck.

You may also like:


  • Motivational resources Books and cards to inspire yourself and remind yourself of the power you have within you.

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