Being made redundant (Part 2)

3rd December 2010

This article is the second in a series, aimed at helping you cope with redundancy before, during and after it happens – whatever role you hold now. Last week, I urged you to take time for yourself. To realise that you are not alone. To remember that it is the post – not you – that is no longer needed. And to find someone to talk to – who would really listen – without confusing matters by offering you advice from their own perspective.

I even gave you homework! Your task was to make an arrangement to talk to someone who would be supportive of you. Did you find someone? How did it go? What did you find you appreciated the most? Did you tell them you appreciated their listening to you? Were they pleased to help – did they say, “I didn’t do anything really!”?

If you did find someone who you could really talk to, you will probably have realised straightaway that talking is exactly what you need right now. You will probably have valued the time that someone gave you, in simply listening carefully and empathically. If they prompted you to express your thoughts and feelings, and just accepted them, then even better.

But maybe you didn’t find the right person. Did they just give you their own thoughts? How was that and what did you really need? Go find someone else – and keep on looking until you find them. Don’t give up! Simply talking (about your reaction, your feelings, your ideas and your fears) may be the best thing for you right now. The rest – the CV, your options, career planning and job search – can come later. You will be more ready to tackle these necessary steps thoughtfully if you have worked through what you are experiencing right now.

Remember, what matters is how you respond

After a period of shock and disbelief, and after one has accepted and started to adjust to a new situation, a more creative period emerges. You will know when it happens. And you will know at that moment, that now is the time to start thinking ahead, to start considering new ideas, looking into new options and making plans. We’ll talk more about that another day. I won’t forget. It’s just so important to take such a major change step by step – and at your own pace. What you can do right now is to start growing your network of contacts.

Grow your network

“But I don’t have a network!”, you may say. Yet we all have our own network of people that we know. These are the people we work with, our friends, our extended family, the people we meet when we go to places, the people we buy from, the people who share our interests, the people around us, and even the people you haven’t talked to… yet. So let’s forget the word ‘networking’ for now and instead, think about ‘growing your network’. It’s helpful to start by identifying who is already in your network. This often reveals a surprisingly large number of people, including those you had forgotten about or not spoken to for ages, even years.

It is time to write them all down. If you use a computer, it’s easier (and I urge you to take up every opportunity of computer training), but even if you don’t use a computer, start now. Think of the people you know, however indirectly, and list them. Put them in categories,with a column per category and write the names of everyone you can remember from: jobs now, jobs recent, jobs past, managers, staff, friends, extended family, sports/social/interest groups, neighbours, people who do the work you’d like to do, and so on. This is your network. It’s an important starting point for getting connected with new opportunities. We’ll talk about exactly how, next time.

Your task this week – List all the people in your network. Put it on a computer if you can. Next week we’ll discuss how to grow your network. And in the meantime, don’t forget to keep talking, especially to positive people who make you feel that you can, and will, get though this.

Part 3 of this occasional series will follow in February.

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University of Southampton

Coaching, teaching and employability projects to develop academic staff, students and researchers. I career coached MBA students each year and project managed the design of a massive open online course (MOOC) on Digital Marketing, attracting 17,000 learners.


Writing national guidelines to help staff manage internships and placements

St. George’s Hospital

Working on career development strategies with early career researchers

National Oceanography Centre

1-1 career coaching to develop awareness of careers outside academia

Elsevier Publishing

Working on the future of publishing with European Marketing Directors


Designing and producing online and video based learning for IBM (UK) Sales

Oxford Brookes University

Team coaching and 1-1 coaching for education professionals

Open University

Leading teams of writers and media developers to design and deliver flexible distance learning

CGI | Admiral plc | Logica plc

Working with clients to train their staff online and as Admiral’s Corporate Marketing Manager

Isle of Wight Council

Coaching and support for staff affected by change and redundancy

University College London

Designing online learning for university professionals

Land Registry

Writing and sub-editing online versions of the Land Registry Annual Report

University College of Estate Management

Consulting to other universities and working with tutors to produce online learning

Royal Agricultural University
Centre for Empowering Patients and Communities

Project management of an online course to empower patients with long term health conditions

Education consulting

“Madeline is always spot on, always reliable, great to work with.”

(Partner in a university online learning project)