I take it I'm not the only one who at this point in the year starts to look both back and forth. 2016 was a pretty intense year, but then again that seems to be something I say every year. 2016 was intense for different reasons though, two of them being that I was made redundant, not once but twice. Yep. First time it happened there was no end to the betrayal I felt (lol, so cute) and the second time it happened I almost burst out laughing because it was so comical. Who gets made redundant twice in six months?! Someone who works in PR, that's who.
Nevertheless, I learnt a lot along the way. Here's the biggest lessons:
1. There's no better way to be unemployed
Think about it. For whatever reason, your boss is forced to pay you to leave. Depending on the terms of your contract, you're paid to look for another job for X months. And when people and potential employers ask you why you want to leave your current job you don't have to come up with some lame excuse, you can actually just tell the truth - they couldn't afford to keep you. And the person that had to make you redundant will, in my experience, do everything in their power to help you find another great job. For instance, the second founder to make me redundant spent two hours with me to help me brainstorm ideas for an interview I had coming up. I can't imagine any other situation where that would happen.
2. Your network is bigger than you think - and it's about to grow even bigger
Everyone you know will have heard of someone being made redundant, and people love to help. I reached out to all kinds of people that were really quite far out in my network - simply put, I've never gone to more coffees in my life. I had about 3 meetings a day, with potential employers but also with people in my network who offered to share their experiences and their network with me. It was a brilliant way to network and meet new people and old - about a zillion times better than going to one of those "networking events" (barf).
3. Beggars can be choosers
Because you get a redundancy package and because you have no work to go to, you have all the time in the world to meet potential employers. Most importantly, you get given the opportunity to figure out what it is you really want. I was pretty lost in my first job and wasn't sure whether I wanted to specialise in PR or social, but once I was made redundant it became crystal clear that I wanted to do startup PR, preferably agency-side as I wanted exposure to a lot of different companies, and preferably with a boutique agency as I just can't face corporatism (soz). That said, I still met with corporate agencies and startups, and ended up with five offers from agencies and startups alike within four weeks after being made redundant.
4. As a creative, you'll never be more creative
So you have all this time and you meet with all these people. And most of them will ask for some sort of work sample before even considering hiring you. As a creative, I've never had a higher output of quantifiable creativity than in times of redundancy. And because of how recruitment processes work, you have to do it all at once. In one week, in-between interviews, I singlehandedly developed several different PR and social media strategies for everything from driving engagement to launching in new markets, while devising numerous press releases for products and clients I knew little about. If you're early on in your career, as I was, chances are you've never had to do this on your own before. Realising that you're capable of it is a massive confidence booster.
5. And finally, the only way is up
I took a big step up after both my redundancies, although in different ways. I felt excited and confident about both new beginnings and although it ultimately sucks being made redundant, it's pretty likely you wouldn't have wanted to stay at your former job anyway. When you're made to leave because of resourcing issues, it's likely budgets are tight so you can't do much, or you're overworked because they can't afford to take on more staff. You might want to hold on for dear life simply because of loyalty or commitment, but at the end of the day, you'll want to be at a place where you can thrive while being challenged and allowed to have a decent work/life balance. That's an equation that never works in the weeks or months ahed of facing a redundancy.
And finally, if I ever doubt my abilities, at least my brother was right when he offered this piece of poignant advice: "you're really good at getting paid for losing jobs".