Over the summer I spent some time in Ireland, travelling from county to county and visiting different family members. There were all the usual catch-up chats and stories but for the first time I noticed the conversation dwelt more on subjects such as the recession and unemployment rates.
This is not to say there wasn’t the usual banter and optimism I’d come to expect from them, but as an unemployed person myself at the time, I sensed a feeling of sympathy or even pity towards me on occasions.
I’ve heard things said like ‘I feel sorry for you’ or ‘I despair for the youth of today’ I also heard that it had been the worst time to graduate in twenty years. All of this got me thinking, is it really that bad? And my answer would be no.
I think what my family were actually getting at was their disillusionment with the lack of jobs around and the increasing redundancies and unemployment rate; things that have hit very hard in the UK and Ireland.
They were referring to a time when it was normal for someone to enjoy a solid and structured job for his or her entire career. They’d been valued by their employer and had benefited from that security and it had provided them with a constant income that allowed them to raise a family.
Redundancy is now commonplace and in many cases, it’s a risk of the job you must accept. The notion that one can join a company and work his/her way up within its hierarchy, enjoying the perks along the way, whilst not unheard of, is surely a receding one.
Throughout a career it’s become more common to hopscotch from job to job, gaining more experience and strengthening a CV as you go. Whether a person finding their feet in their career or having to change direction at a later stage it is normal to move around and during a recession, experience becomes even more valuable. So time spent in a role should be considered experience banked rather than time wasted.
When I left University, I was told by lots of people that my first graduate job wouldn’t be my last and because you have started working in one sector this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll forge a career there. It was expected that you’d have to find your own paths and look for other entrances to the job you want. This may or may not be true but I think we’re now being conditioned to move around in our careers and take on fresh opportunities.
Many people view this air of uncertainty as a negative thing and whilst it is not pleasant being told you’re surplus to requirements or indeed, being unsure of when you’ll next have to go on the job-hunt, you can take comfort in the fact that it’s normal and a large majority of adults go through the same thing in their career.
I appreciate that for someone who has devoted a great deal of time and effort to their work and to a company, to then be told they are simply redundant is a heartbreaking feeling, but I would encourage them to treat it more as an opportunity rather than as a dead end.
When faced with redundancy more and more people are putting their talents to use, starting up their own businesses and embracing opportunities they might have dismissed as unrealistic in the past.
Whilst redundancy can be a traumatic experience at the time, more and more people are able to look back and say in hindsight, that it was the best thing to have happened to them. It is normal to seek security, especially when it comes to your career and your livelihood but at the same time it is also normal to resist lifestyle changes, and live with inhibition.
One thing is for sure, whilst redundancy figures may be high, the variation in career opportunities has never been higher. There is a huge amount of training available to help kick start a new career or a business and an unprecedented number of areas to do it in, meaning that being made redundant might just be the break you needed. Why not give those forgotten business ideas a shot? In the long-term you may even be able to provide employment for others.