Life after redundancy: ask the expert

I was made redundant and have applied for over 300 positions. It could be a problem with my CV or my reference due to a difficult former manager. I have even applied for cleaning positions. I would like to do something more creative and home-based.

Firstly, it is always sad to read about office politics and difficult personalities having such a destructive influence in determining who stays and who goes when the redundancies come round. You have my sympathy. Unfortunately, there is no magic recipe for dealing with unpleasant work colleagues and until companies learn that they should recruit teams according to personality types, as well as specific skill sets, such conflicts will continue to occur.

I note your wish to gain some home-based employment. This sounds as though you (quite understandably) are in retreat at the moment but I suspect that isn’t your true nature. You are obviously someone with a creative inclination and such types usually thrive on interactions with others.  Safe and appealing as it may sound, staying at home out of the ‘rat race’ for the wrong reasons may be just as damaging as putting yourself ‘out there’ again. I would suggest, therefore, that you re-build your confidence by engaging with the outside world on your terms. I am a great believer in the power of voluntary work – not just for improving the community but in order to help people who have been out of work for a while, regain some of the fluency of working with others in a non-competitive, non-commercial environment. It seems that when people aren’t paying you for your services, they tend to treat you better – and a heartfelt thank you at the end of a day may be just the thing you need to hear for a while. It isn’t a pay-check but it’s the currency of good-feeling – and that is something we all need to have regular deposits of to keep our self-esteem going.

I don’t know what your family situation is but even if you have young children and can only do a limited amount of voluntary work, do please consider it seriously.  This could well open a new avenue of possibility for you career-wise.

Depressing as it sounds that you haven’t even managed to get a cleaning job or other manual work, it doesn’t surprise me. These low-skilled occupations are over-populated with mostly people for whom a  better paid occupation is a non-starter – usually through their own lack of qualifications, or, in the case of overseas workers, because their lack of English fluency prohibits better work. And those people lucky enough to be in the market to employ a cleaner usually want someone whom they believe is going to stay as their ‘daily’ – rather than someone like yourself for whom it is a stop-gap on the way to more stimulating and appropriate employment. You might not believe so at the moment, but you are capable of better and brighter things – as your ‘bad luck’ in being shortlisted for cleaning jobs clearly shows.

I think the old adage ‘if all you’ve got is lemons, then learn to make lemonade’ applies to your career situation at the moment. Clearly you have had a rough experience in your past job which has knocked you for six. But a clear re-appraisal of your skills, your true motivations and your personal values will reveal, I believe, several career paths which you could explore further. Unfortunately, a short email correspondence via a website can only offer a limited amount of advice and support. A couple of sessions with a career guidance counsellor who can explore these issues at greater length and face to face, would I believe help you to re-focus and hopefully regain some confidence in your own abilities. And I don’t think you’ll find that you only have lemons….

If finance is an issue for you, then giving the government-sponsored careers service a try might be a free option for you. They have information on all kinds of careers plus some online personality tests, as well as an advisor you can call up. But bear in mind that it is a bit like getting a health advice from NHS Direct, rather than visiting one’s own doctor – there is a limit to how effective that can be when the personal, face-to-face factor is taken out.  A session or two with a private careers practitioner who works holistically, like myself, may be a better option for you if you feel you would benefit from guidance rather than simply information, though it can be more costly, depending on where you live. Please see my website if you would like further information on the work that I do

I think that you should view your situation as an opportunity to try something new and to develop yourself further. Whilst acknowledging the need to earn some money and get off benefits, it would be a mistake to rush into something unsuitable in the long-term. Try and see this time as a necessary growing period – with the right cultivation you could find yourself blossoming in a new career path within a relatively short time. Keep people around you who can support your motivation, also – the kind of people who themselves are positive and encouraging, not the knockers who can commiserate with you but don’t actually help boost your self-esteem. If you live near one, check out Life Clubs ( as they are a cheap source of motivation using the life coaching model (but they’re not careers experts) which you may find helpful.

And good luck with your journey.

Comments [1]

  • says:

    My job is under threat, and I will probably have to apply for my job over again. I need to work from home as I have a daughter who has serious special needs, and I need to be there as we never know when we are in hospital. Can you suggest any jobs working from home, that are preferably paid. I have 10 and a half years experience as a fundraiser for a national charity. I can’t do much about it, at the moment as more jobs are under consultation. However, I’m not sleeping well and very stressed.

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