Lost Your Job? Here’s What To Do
Whether you’ve been retrenched, fired or are currently battling that deep-in-your-gut fear that you might be getting the boot from your job, rejection is never easy. But we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know if your career hits a minor speed bump.
Take deep breaths
If you find yourself sitting in front of your human resources rep being handed your final notice, the most important thing to remember is: don’t panic. While it might feel like the end of the world, many amazing, talented people have been in this situation before – and have returned to kick ass. Does the name Anna Wintour ring a bell? Well, there was a time whenHarper’s Bazaar decided they no longer needed the future Vogue editrix’s services. Did Anna crumble? Nope. Of the experience, she revealed, “I worked for American Harper’s Bazaar… They fired me. I recommend that you all get fired; it’s a great learning experience.” Joburg-based transformational coach Robyn Aitken-Smith (Coachrobyn.co.za) says, “Although there is no right way to deal with the shock of retrenchment or dismissal, we can prepare ourselves to handle difficult and unexpected situations in general. By learning to manage our emotions, we are able to process the news before responding. You need to be emotionally balanced in order tocontinue to support yourself during this period of uncertainty.”
Give yourself time to grieve
Spend at least a day or two in your pyjamas watching Parks And Recreation and eating chocolate – you are human, after all. If a morning or two at the gym is what your soul calls for, that’s cool, too. There’s no point in pretending the rejection doesn’t hurt. The secret is using the time you have to your advantage. If you’ve got the financial stability to see you through until you can secure another pay cheque, this is the best time to re-evaluate things. Ask yourself the important questions: what do you want? What makes you happy? What bad habits do you need to change? Then pick yourself up, dust yourself off – and move on. For Robyn, there are three things to keep in mind when dealing with rejection in general – learning to increase your resilience by being mindful of your strengths, practising self-love and eliminating the need for outside approval.
Whether you’ve just lost your job or you feel you’re about to, there are things you can do to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. So no matter how high your emotions run, never bad-mouth a previous employer. Whatever your industry, you’ll find it’s an incredibly small world, and your bitterness will come back to haunt you once you begin a new job search. “What gives candidates the edge is emotional intelligence,” Robyn adds. “Potential employers will be impressed by your maturity, positive outlook, interpersonal relationship skills and your work ethic. In this situation, your humility and ability to learn from your mistakes will impress.”
Learn the value of UIF
If you’ve always wondered what that mysterious acronym that claims one percent of your pay cheque every month actually means, here’s the good news: it stands for unemployment insurance fund. It’s there to ensure you have at least a little bit of money coming your way to help weather the storm of your temporary unemployment, should your company need to make retrenchments. According to Intellect Labour advisor Riaan Bronkhorst (Intellect.org.za), to claim your UIF, you need to take your ID, your banking details, notice of termination and proof of registration to your nearest labour centre, where they’ll help you fill out the necessary documentation to pay you out. The amount you receive will be proportional to the time you worked, calculated over 48 months of contributions made to the fund. The less time you’ve had to contribute, the smaller your benefit will be. “You cannot claim for as long as you are unemployed, as the state is not in the welfare business – but provides, through the fund, a temporary form of social security to bridge a period of unemployment, limited to six months,” Riaan says. And if you don’t claim the cash? It still goes to a good cause, as Riaan explains. “Cash reserves of the UIF are made available for investment in businesses and for the creation of new jobs or passed on to the Industrial Development Corporation to stimulate growth through business financing.”
Try new things
If you decide that fate has just handed you the perfect excuse to take that sabbatical and find yourself by volunteering for a charity overseas, work on a yacht or hike through India, do it. The time you take to learn new (if completely unrelated) skills before you dive back into the job market might actually make your CV the one that stands out from the rest.
“You will not have any control over how badly a dismissal reflects on your CV, but what you do have control over is how to perceive the situation – a catastrophe or an unfortunate situation,” Robyn says. “If you put things in perspective, you have a better chance of minimising the damage; people take their cues from us. Everything you do during your career can be utilised in future, including social-responsibility projects and interests and hobbies – so nothing is ever lost or in vain. Every time we learn a new skill, from bookkeeping to photography, we become that much more marketable.”