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.