The rollercoaster of redundancy

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Losing your job may be a devastating experience or the chance for a fresh start. How you feel about it is coloured by many things. But you are undoubtedly in a stressful situation, having lost not just your main source of income but your daily relationships, structure and sense of purpose.

Angry? You bet! Shocked, depressed or frustrated? You may experience some or all of the stages associated with grieving.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross - during her work with people undergoing change, particularly grief and bereavement - developed a model identifying the process involved in coping with major life changes. The initial shock of redundancy gives way to anger and loss of self-confidence before you are able to start making decisions and changes.

Stage 1 - shock and surprise at the announcement.

Stage 2 - denial of the change, convincing yourself and others that it isn't really happening.

Stage 3 - frustration and anger, often with a tendency to blame others.

Stage 4 - depression and apathy, everything seems pointless and purposeless.

Stage 5 - experimentation, where you are able to try new things out.

Stage 6 - coming to terms with what's happened and starting to feel more optimistic and positive.

Stage 7 - integrating the changes into your life.

It's normal to go through these emotions, it's important to recognise and deal with them so as to take control and move on. There's no defined timescale for how long it takes to work through the process but recognising where you are helps.

Most of us are scared of change. However, transition points in our lives, such as job loss, are a good time to take stock, consider if what we were doing previously was right for us, and explore other options before rushing straight back to familiar territory.

Don't be ashamed. Don't take it personally: the credit crunch bites and organisations make decisions based on financial imperatives. Take the personal out of the equation, put things in context. Imagine you had done an inventory of your skills and competencies three days before you were told your job was at risk and then think about the same self-audit three days later. Your asset base is the same. The world still turns and you can get back on track.

Don't go out while angry. Don't take a scattergun approach, firing off your CV to all and sundry. Take time to deal with the change. It's important to talk to someone you respect and trust about what you are going through. Use any career counselling that's offered. It's better to talk than to deny your feelings. You need to be in a balanced and rational place to deal with interviewing. If outplacement is offered, make sure you take it up.

Don't let redundancy damage your self-confidence. We know that success in the search for a new job is more likely if you have good levels of confidence and self-esteem. Life throws brickbats at us every so often, but something better may be just around the corner. Be prepared to succeed.

Michael Moran is chief executive of outplacement provider Fairplace.

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