Why it’s great that you lost your job

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Redundancy can feel crushing. But, with the right mindset, you could end up with a better job – and life – than before.

In 1991, Will King had a job he loved. He was business development director for a corporate-events company, earned a good wage with decent benefits and genuinely enjoyed what he did. Then the UK went into recession and he was made redundant. “The nice TVR sports car, nice girlfriend and nice expenses account all went,” he says.

Although King knew it wasn’t personal, being made redundant stung. The loss of control didn’t sit well with him: “I decided to take charge of my own destiny. Then, if it all went wrong, I’d have only myself to blame.” While taking time out to discover what he wanted to do, he stumbled on an idea. He used to get terrible shaving rash, and his then girlfriend suggested he try some of her bath oil. To his surprise, his rash completely cleared up. King spotted an opportunity. “Shaving in the 1990s was more of a scraping experience than the enjoyable one it is today,” he explains. “I saw that, if I could solve my problem and scale up production, then I could have a business on my hands.”

Setting up King of Shaves – now second to Gillette in the shaving oils and gels market – involved filling bottles at his kitchen table and digging out Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed’s direct fax line to persuade him to take an order. But, by 1997, the business was turning over £1.25m. It was worth £25m when King stepped down as CEO in 2014. “I was very happy in my job,” he says. “I wouldn’t be doing what I am now if I hadn’t been made redundant.”

King’s redundancy experience proved positive largely because of his attitude. Redundancy can be devastating, leaving you questioning your abilities and panicking about your prospects. But it’s also a chance to take stock and reassess your career options. Many successful business owners have hit on an idea while recovering from the shock of redundancy. The important thing is to clear your head and be open to new opportunities. Here are a few steps that can help you get over the panic and focus on finding something better

Allow yourself to grieve

Getting over redundancy is like getting over a bereavement, says Debbie Smith of personal-brand consultancy Imagine Your Potential. “First there’s shock, then anger, then denial and finally acceptance,” she says. “So, if you’re made redundant, take a deep breath and allow yourself six weeks to three months to work through those feelings.”

Rebuild your confidence

Management coach Lynn Scott explains that confidence can be learned. The first step is to realise that, despite what you might be feeling, redundancy is not the end of the world. “Events don’t upset us but beliefs do,” she says. “You need to try things out to learn to be confident. It’s knowing where confidence comes from, and knowing we all have the ability to become a more confident person.”

 Be picky

The temptation is to rush into the first job you can get, but redundancy is an opportunity to take some time and explore your options. You don’t want to take the first job you’re offered only to find you aren’t happy in the role.

 Explore some ideas

Throw yourself into a personal project, get reacquainted with a hobby or do some training. Use whatever you’re doing to work out what your ideal next step would be. You might come up with an idea for a business, or you might get a better idea about your ideal employer.

Think about who you know

You probably have a great list of contacts who could help you into your next role – you just don’t realise it. Look through your LinkedIn contacts and email lists. Get in touch with people working in fields you’re interested in. See if anyone is interested in mentoring you. Will King used his journalist contacts to get King of Shaves off the ground, and it resulted in a public endorsement from former England rugby player Will Carling. Just remember to pass on the favour when you get back on track, helping others who, having been made redundant, feel demoralised and worried about their future.

Mark Rowland is a journalist and former editor of Accounting Technician and 20 magazine.

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