In which I renew my plans with string …

When I knew for sure that I would be made redundant I set myself some milestones along the way to the exit.

Ranging from the strategic to the mundane – you can guess the sort of thing.

  • Sort out what we want to do as a family
  • Work out what I want to do in this next phase of my working life.
  • Devise a job hunting plan.
  • Apply myself to applications and to networking (putting myself out there).
  • and so on ….

In the rough timetable I had in my head I thought that I would be sorted by now.

That was then.

Since then I have learned several uncomfortable truths.

The first one is that none of this is easy. Being organised, industrious, experienced and so on is not enough. Even colleagues in better financial positions to my own and able (and willing) to take big cuts in pay are struggling to find a berth. They tell me that, at interview, they’ve got the sense that anyone chasing a much lower paid job is an object of some suspicion. As though they’re up to something but no one is sure quite what.

Along with the difficulty of the task comes a need to get resilient. And quickly. I’ve been lucky – although Mrs RPS kindly says luck has had nothing to do with it – in my career having had few set backs. I’ve had more rejection in the last six months than in the rest of my working life. That takes a toll. Your self-confidence gets a bit dented to say the least. It gets harder to hold on to a sense of what you are good at. The successes that you have had get dimmer in your memory.

You begin to wonder whether ‘they’ were right. Has someone suddenly found you out after years of fooling everyone that you know what you’re doing? Then you remember that you’re just one amongst hundreds of thousands. Nothing personal then.

The final big thing I have learned is to keep clear about where you want to get to but be flexible about how you get there. Flinging around applications and networking invites like the cartoon Tasmanian Devil on speed does no good. But revisiting your plans to see how you are doing and what you could be doing better or differently seems sensible.

You may recall I once quoted the 1st Duke of Wellington writing about his job-hunting problems. He also once said something interesting about planning that I have often ripped off myself. He said if your plan is like an expensive fancy horse harness and it breaks then you need all sorts of equally fancy remedies to put it right. But if your plan is made from string – the everyday stuff you happen to have to hand – when it breaks simply knot it together and move on.

So I have been doing a bit of rope work this weekend. Simplifying my planning. Focusing and cutting out the flim-flam.

I’ll let you know how it works out.

PS If you are worrying today about what the local government settlement will bring you have the RPS family’s best wishes. Good luck.

About redundantpublicservant

A redundant UK public servant looking for work, sharing his experiences and providing a space for others to do the same.
This entry was posted in Job applications, job hunting, Public sector, Public service, Redundancy, rejection letters and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to In which I renew my plans with string …

  1. Penny says:

    Beautifully put. Good luck

  2. cyberdoyle says:

    Good luck. Another bit of advice which has kept our family farm running for three generations is ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’.
    Like your string analogy, we just carry on. There will come a time when people who actually ‘care’ get the recognition they deserve. Dunno when it will be though.
    Chin up, keep rockin

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  6. Ben says:

    Hello – I wonder if you have thought about a porfolio approach to job hunting. Seems all the rage with the folk being made redundant at my public body. You know, 2 days a week consultancy, maybe a day volunteering or pro bono work and say two days doing something completely different, and moving beyond the normal 9 to 5?

  7. Trrodles says:

    Hi RPS,

    I’ve been out now just over a month (sounds like I just left jail) and have been doing the application stuff, networking bla bla bla. It is so important to have this blog to remind me I’m not alone. I looked at one job spec today and was interested to see they were looking for someone with corporate experience. etc and bracketed after was (not Public Service).

    You do start to question whether you are not as good or useful as you thought. It’s pretty sobering. I wouldn’t call it rejection, so much as the sound of silence.

    Your blog also addresses issues that once I might have discussed with colleagues. Unfortunately the dogs don’t really want to discuss what’s going on in the country and the world. I have tried.

    Keep it up, we are all still out here following.


    • Dear Troodles,

      Thank you for the comment – it’s great to hear from you.

      I’ve also run into the attitude exemplified by the bracket.

      It’s very curious. Business people I know talk about many of the issues that have been core to many of the roles many of us have performed over the years. Here’s a little list – managing information, corporate governance, cost reduction, systems implementation, internal and external comms, and so on.

      I’ve met and worked with outstanding practitioners in all these fields who happened to be working in the public sector. Their successes have gone unreported because it’s fruitier for some in the media to focus on where it goes wrong. To dismiss them right from the start of any recruitment seems like self-indulgent folly to me.

      But then I suppose I would say that, wouldn’t I?

      Best wishes


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