Retrenched…what now?

We all fear it and it happens to the best of us, but being retrenched from your work is not the end of the world. While financial stress can get you under, it is important to remain positive when you get the occupational boot to ensure you don’t dissolve into an unproductive depression. Here’s what I did when I got retrenched in 2016.

The worse time to be asked to leave your company is nearing the end of the year. Why? Simply because the already tight job market becomes even more tight due to the fact that most employees (as unhappy as they may be) will not leave their jobs with the looming December holiday and year-end bonus. This was the situation I found myself in, retrenched at the end of October 2016…damn!

Admittedly, the first three weeks were tough. Tears caught me off guard at random moments when I’d feel like my world is falling apart. I closed as many accounts as possible to minimise my monthly expenses. I cancelled all my holiday plans. I even cut my food budget, eating all kinds of cheap crap in the hope that it would stretch my measly retrenchment package a bit further while I wait for good news from the hundred or so job applications I sent out.

The above steps WERE A MISTAKE!

You see, going into defense mode (like I did) only emphasises a sense of giving up…which in turn leads to depression, which makes job hunting so much harder. Luckily, I quickly found a way to handle the situation in a more productive way, and I’d like to share my tips with you all.

6 tips to turn retrenchment in your favour

1. Cry your heart out!

The most important thing to do, and get out of the way as soon as possible, is to break down completely and cry, swear and destroy until it’s all out of your system. Many friends and family members will try to console you as soon as you share the news, but pushing your disheartened feelings to the side will only result in a more slow recovery from the bitch-slap that is retrenchment.

Go to a quiet spot, put on a super sad movie or some emotional music, grab a pillow and cry and scream until it’s all gone. Accept the pain and then let it flow out of you.


2. Move on!

Once you’ve cried your heart out about the unexpected joblessness, it’s time to accept what’s happened and move on. Whether you’re religious or not, everything happens for a reason.

The most important thing to remember when you get retrenched is that YOU DID NOTHING WRONG. This advice sounds a lot easier than it is to follow, there’s always a feeling of not being awesome enough because someone viewed you as dispensable. The fact is that you were retrenched because the company did not make enough money and that is not your fault nor your problem. Believe me, there are more than enough useless people that manage to stay employed, if you were really that bad you’d have been fired a long time ago.

My point? Always stay as positive as possible…nobody wants to hire a grumpy goose.


3. List your strengths!

Before you tackle the job market in hopes of landing a new job ASAP, take a moment to make two lists: one that shows all the skills you have (especially the new ones you’ve gained throughout your years of being a dedicated employee) and another that shows what careers you’re passionate about.

The reason you should do this is simply to get all your ducks in a row. The job market is ever changing and what used to be five separate job positions a few months ago has now become one. Everyone and their mother is looking for a bargain employee that can handle the work of five different people. Having your lists at the ready will both help to easily find occupations that you are genuinely interested in and will help you speedily sift through the job requirements to know if you can actually handle what is expected.


4. Drop the waiting game!

You’ve send out a few dozen job applications for positions you’d love to fill. What now? Wait until someone eventually gives you a call? NO! The worst thing you can do is play the waiting game, it only leads to overthinking and eventually stagnation and depression.

Remember step 3! You already have a list of skills at your disposal, do something with them to make some extra money while you wait. You don’t have to start your own business and take on all the stress accompanied with a startup, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take on some freelance jobs while you wait for that corporate interview. Websites like Elance and Freelancer are great starting points to hunt for freelance work, so are numerous Facebook groups like The Resource (mainly for South Africans) where various members post regularly about short-term job opportunities. Of course, nothing beats good old networking and you’d be surprised how many friends know of potential work that can keep you busy and profitable during your unemployed period.

A word of warning though: make sure you do some research on freelancing to ensure you make both financially viable and legal decisions, not to mention taking the necessary safety precautions (sites like Craigslist are full of dodgy mofos).

This article lists The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs.


5. Use your free time wisely!

When you’re not applying for jobs or taking on freelance work, upskill! Take an extra course on something you’d love to add to your CV, whether mastering online advertising with a Google certificate or tackling a new language.

The best thing about the technology age is that you don’t have to spend thousands to learn new things anymore. Thanks to YouTube and the kindness of thousands of talented screen sluts vying for followers, you can learn a ton of useful skills from comfort of your home internet connection. There are also very affordable short courses and webinars online through sites like Coursera and TedX.

Not only will you be giving your résumé an attractive boost, but you could end up with a job that pays a significant amount of extra money.


6. Don’t become an arrogant a-hole!

Following all the above steps may just result in you dropping the job hunt completely and starting your own business. If that’s where you’re journey leads you, then great! However, don’t get a big head and don’t wear your success on your sleeve. Nothing destroys a promising career than an arrogant jackass that reminds everyone how he survived unemployment. This is especially important if you’re still attending interviews in the hopes of landing a high paying corporate job. Interviewers can sense immediately if your head is too big to fit the office they wish to place you in, and while your freelancing can land you a decent salary each month you could be chasing off an even bigger salary with your nonchalant attitude during interviews.

If you’re a bit rusty when it comes to interviews, have a look at this useful article by The Balance, titled How to Ace a Job Interview.


Hopefully you find the above steps helpful when you get the big bad “R”, perhaps so much so that you say goodbye to being an employee and hello to being an employer. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, always remember that you have valuable skills and that you don’t need a big company to make that moola.

Here’s wishing you all a successful, wealthy, healthy New Year!

Text: Andy Moller
Photographs: Pixabay

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