5 March 2020

Coping with Redundancy: Advice from an Experienced Redundancy and Life Coach

Steve Halsall

Red Tiger Consulting


This is the first blog in a series of three on Coping with Redundancy. Redundancy is, unfortunately, an all too regular experience in today’s commercial world and a significant cause of stress and anxiety for anyone who has been affected. This series draws on the experiences of three individuals (two guest bloggers to whom we are eternally grateful) and hopefully gives different points of view as well as practical advice if redundancy comes knocking on your door.

First up is experienced life coach (and Headhunter), Linda Steel, who will share her experiences of coaching those who have been made redundant from their roles. More progressive businesses provide redundancy support for their staff which typically involves weekly or fortnightly sessions to help them with everything from honing your CV and LinkedIn Profile, planning for your next role, conducting efficient job searches and perfecting interview techniques.

Even today, many people don’t receive this kind of support, advice and counselling. They are left jobless and often feeling lost and unsure about how to proceed. Linda shares her wisdom and counsels on common mistakes, pitfalls and worries faced by those who are made redundant.

Over to Linda…

Most individuals panic at redundancy and often make mistakes by launching into their job search without stepping back. It is natural to gain comfort by working on the tangibles such as the CV as you have something to show – a concrete object. However they need to step back and think through a strategy. This is where a career coach can be so helpful in working with the individual to define unique selling points, plot options and devise a plan.

It is a marketing campaign and needs to incorporate SMART goals:

  • S – specific
  • M – measurable
  • A – achievable
  • R – relevant
  • T – time based

The trauma of losing a job can result in wasted energy, handling the process unprofessionally and can be incredibly emotionally draining. Accepting a job that is not right can take your career down bumpy roads.

The coach meets weekly/fortnightly to give emotional and encouraging support. Sometimes, depending on the state of the job market, suitable alternatives may be necessary.

They might ask the job seekers the following questions:

Do you work to live or live to work?

In other words do you work to finance your hobbies and social life or do you really enjoy your work for its own sake?

Joe, for example, was keen on very active outdoor sports. His three main hobbies were mountain biking, skiing and orienteering. His middle management job was important to him because it gave him the money he needed to pursue these hobbies. He wanted to do one or all of these professionally, but with a young family to support he decided that at this stage in his life they would have to remain as hobbies.

Are you prepared to earn less money and make a major life change?

If your circumstances were to allow, and/or your main reason for working is not material wealth, you could decide you want to lead a simpler, if less affluent, sort of life. Before you give up everything and take the plunge, however, it may be worth trying out your new lifestyle for a short period (at weekends, or while on holiday) to see if it would suit you.

Sometimes giving the proposed change a trial is not feasible, and you just have to take the plunge.

Graham, for example, was a chartered accountant with a major London practice and had a smart car and a salary to match. He read Latin and Greek for pleasure. After about eight years he decided he would give up this particular ’good life’ and go to Oxford as a mature student to read Classics. Now in his final year, he is considering his career choices. One thing he is very sure about is that he will not be returning to chartered accountancy. Graham accepts without regret that if he wants to pursue his love of Classics in his job he will not therefore be able to resume his former lifestyle.

You have many choices and decisions to make

Do you want to continue at the same level in a different industry or job?

Many candidates may have transferable skills that might help them move into a different industry. Don’t feel you have to stay in the industry you know; many job roles don’t require detailed industry experience and you can learn quickly on the job.

Coleen was made redundant from her middle-management job in the knitwear industry at the age of 39. She enjoyed knitwear and was experienced and knowledgeable about it. As a qualified accountant she wanted to find a job at a similar level, preferably in the same industry. She started to look, but could find nothing suitable or interesting.
After about five months with no success she decided to cast her net wider and to look at jobs in other industries. She worked hard at becoming known in recruitment agencies and at networking among friends and associates. She eventually heard of a comparable job at a similar level in the travel industry. Before attending any interviews, she did a good deal of research. At her second interview she had to give a presentation on travel to senior managers, which she found very hard because the industry was so very new to her. She got the job and not only settled into it very well and very happily, but found the industry itself much more fun than the one she had left behind.

Do you want a position that is comparable, more senior or less senior than the one you are in now?

It can be hard to work out exactly what’s best, but have a good hard look at your current situation and decide whether you need a bigger challenge, a more managerial role or perhaps a focus on better work/life balance and step back.

Simon retired from a senior job in insurance in the City of London in his early fifties. Having worked all his professional life in the City, he decided that it was time to stop commuting from Hertfordshire every day. However, he found quite quickly that he had a lot of experience and energy to give, so he looked around for something to do in the local area.
He found a lower-status and less well paid job as a full-time bursar in a local secondary school where he could use his business skills. He is now thoroughly enjoying his ‘retirement’. The benefits have not all been one way, as the school had gained from his commercial skills. His projects have included improving the recruitment and induction procedures for non-teaching staff and introducing appraisals for them, both of which initiatives have improved staff retention.

Could you turn an interest into paid employment or self-employment?

Branching into self employment isn’t for everyone but could you take the leap and live the dream? Doing a job that involves a hobby and something you love doing?

For about five years, Caroline took time off work and worked at weekends because of her interest in training, particularly in women’s development. When she was made redundant from her full time job in the wine trade, she was able to turn her interest into self employment. Within a few years, she had a successful training business.

Are you clear about what you enjoy about your work?

It can help to write down a list of Pro’s and Con’s for the job you’re just leaving. what did you love and what did you hate?

Jonathan started work as an apprentice mechanical engineer, and many of his jobs were highly technical. However, his employers encouraged his interest in, and aptitude for, people management skills, as a result of which he became a works manager. If he were to change jobs now, he would rely less on his technical skills and more on his abilities in dealing with people.

A huge thank you to Linda for sharing her experiences, including some real life examples from job seekers she advised as a coach.

If you can afford to employ a coach it could be a very good move to help you navigate the potential career and life choices ahead of you.

If you’d like to chat through your options with us, we offer free careers advice and even if we do not have a role to currently fit your requirements we can be used as a sounding board to discuss what potential businesses or roles you may wish to pursue.

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Published by Steve Halsall

Steve is the founder of Red Tiger Consulting. He has worked in Location Planning for over 20 years – both on the consultancy side and client side. His passion is building successful teams that evolve their capability (skills, software and data) to meet the ever changing requirements of analysis. In his spare time he is mainly kept busy with his two children, falling in and out of love with Liverpool FC and at some point he wants to re-start his golfing ‘career’.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    I was so lucky to get amazing support when I was made redundant from MapInfo/Pitney Bowes many years ago. I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, it was an awful experience to lose a job I loved. A huge change but I ended up going freelance and have not looked back. The life skills I learnt through the coaches and regular meetings really helped me to set up my own business, learn to network and so much more. I feel very fortunate for that experience now and still refer to the handouts sometimes.


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