You’ve just been retrenched, now what?

February 19, 2018

Being retrenched is never easy. But it is a reality that you might have to face in your career. There are few things that feel worse. You’ll feel like your life is falling apart. You’re going to be losing your stable income and you have bills to pay. Your career is also going to take a hit. It might be tough to find a new job.

You probably aren’t sure what to do right now. And that’s understandable. But you do need to take action. So, here are some questions you’ll need to ask yourself to start getting back on your feet.

Do you have money saved?

It’s important that you have a clear idea of your financial situation. What money, if any, do you have in your savings accounts? Is this enough to support you for a few months? Although it’s possibly too late for you now, this is why financial experts recommend that you have at least three months’ worth of living expenses saved up in an emergency fund. If you don’t have money saved, think about what you can do to earn money while you look for a new job. Giving up your flat and moving in with a family member or friend might be an option. Selling personal items could be another.

Do you have a side hustle?

At the same time as you’re taking stock of any savings accounts you might have, it’s also a good idea to think about side jobs. Are you currently earning money on the side? Or do you have an idea for something you could do to bring in money? Maybe you’re a graphic designer who could create some fun prints to sell online. Or perhaps you’re a talented chef and could cook meals that you could sell. Or how about using your newly-found free time to house sit or walk dogs for neighbours?

Did you have your ideal job?

Now’s the time to start thinking about what your dream job would be. Did your previous job fit the bill? Or is there something else you’d prefer to be doing? Maybe it’s something completely different. Or perhaps it’s a vertical move that you could make within your industry. This is an ideal time to reassess your career goals. Take some time to think about what you’d really like to do.

Are your CV and cover letter the best they could possibly be?

Before you start applying for jobs, it’s important that you refresh your CV and cover letter. You’ll need to be sure they contain all relevant information with details of your responsibilities and skills. And while you’ll be personalising your cover letter for every application you send, it’s important that the basic details are there. After all, if you’re as qualified as other candidates, it’s your cover letter that will set you apart. Also, make sure that you update your LinkedIn profile and keep your social media accounts active. Yes, prospective employers do check those.

Do you have contacts in your industry?

Now is the perfect time to get in touch with former colleagues, old classmates and even former lecturers. They could know of a job opening or an opportunity at their workplace. Be sure to let them know that you’re available for a new position and that they know what your skillset is. A mistake that you could make at this point is to keep quiet about your situation. You might feel ashamed or embarrassed about being retrenched. But it’s telling people that could result in your next position. People in your network want the best for you and they’ll be happy to help if they can.

Do you have a case for unfair dismissal?

If you feel that your former employer didn’t give you fair reasons and follow fair procedure for making the decision to retrench you, your dismissal may have been unfair. If you feel that this is the case, you must refer a dispute to the CCMA or bargaining council within 30 days from the date of your retrenchment. If the dispute is not resolved at conciliation, you may refer the dispute to the Labour Court. Keep in mind that the retrenchment process in South Africa can be time-consuming and difficult.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do?

Now is the time, between polishing your CV and applying for jobs, for you to do the things you’ve always dreamed of. This could mean making pottery like you’ve thought of doing, practising another language that you’ve always wanted to pick up or volunteering your time at a favourite, meaningful charitable organisation. The good news is that these things could either lead to new job opportunities (hello, job at an NGO!) or could enable you to add additional skills and experiences to your CV. At the very least, it’ll give you something to talk about at your next job interview. Because a potential candidate who fills their time with hobbies and charity is far more appealing than one who spends their days on the couch.

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