Sarah Fazzini had been working as a graphic designer at the Port Adelaide Football Club for nearly three years when COVID-19 put the brakes on her career.
After a week of working from home, restrictions began amping up. The week after, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan announced the season would be put on hold and her employers began making redundancies days later.
“I was unfortunately one of those people,” she tells news.com.au.
“It was pretty scary at the time because it happened during that first week when everything was shutting down and a lot of people were being let go. It was nerve-wracking looking up jobs and only seeing two or three roles.”
Although the 23-year-old has since found another role working as a multimedia producer at Naval Group Australia in Adelaide, her story mirrors countless Australians who’ve been stood down, or received redundancies during COVID-19.
While it’s an unfortunate reality due to the current economic climate, career and interview coach from Relaunch Me, Leah Lambart and SEEK’s Resident Psychologist Sabina Read say you can recover professionally and restore your confidence after a redundancy.
THE CONFIDENCE QUESTION
When it comes to your emotional health, there’s no doubt a redundancy can be a traumatic experience. Ms Read says it can result in uncomfortable emotions like shock, anxiety, shame, rejection and a loss of identity.
“Try to make sense of the logical and systemic, rather than personal drivers behind your redundancy. Like with any difficult curveball life throws at us, we can’t control when or why it happens, but we can control how we respond,” says Ms Read.
Finding trusted people you can share your experience with can help.
“Job loss can envelop us in a cloak of shame, which can lead to withdrawal and secrecy. However, sharing your feelings, experiences, and concerns are important steps to processing the fear and rejection that often accompany redundancies.
“When we share with others, we often invite them to disclose their sometimes untold stories of job loss, including coping strategies that they have found useful.”
WHAT IS OUTPLACEMENT SUPPORT?
Immediately after a redundancy, some employers may link you with outplacement support to help you calculate your next career move. This can be particularly helpful for people who have spent a long time at one company as the job search process may have drastically changed since you were last in this position.
“We may provide support to clients in the way of career coaching, resume writing, personal brand coaching, job search coaching or behavioural interview coaching,” says Ms Lambart.
“The majority of employees do take up this offer of support and find that it gives them much more confidence when preparing to re-enter the job market.”
WHAT ABOUT CAREER COACHING?
Career coaching is another avenue you can take, particularly if you’re unsure about your future.
“Often redundancy can force them to really re-evaluate their career goals, interests and values and many people realise that perhaps they were not in the right role or work environment after all,” says Ms Lambart.
While it may sound basic, resume and cover letter writing support can also be a particularly useful service.
“In a more competitive job market, it will be vital that candidates have compelling application documents that stand out in terms of content and formatting,” says Ms Lambart.
“An experienced resume writer can tailor their documents to specific roles to ensure they do this.”
If you don’t have access to career coaching, she advises people to spend time clarifying what you want in your next role and what you can offer your future employer.
“This means taking the time to truly reflect on your transferable skills, strengths, values and career goals,” she says.
“In a competitive market, candidates that can communicate what they can offer a company both in their application documents and at interview will stand out from the crowd.”
HOW TO TALK ABOUT REDUNDANCY IN AN INTERVIEW
Most importantly, Ms Lambart stresses there is “absolutely no shame” in having your role being made redundant. She does, however, advise candidates to be prepared to explain why they left their previous role in a “succinct manner”.
“Given the current market recruiters won’t even blink an eyelid but I always recommend clients draft and practise their ‘leaving statement,’” she says. “This looks like a few sentences as to why their position ended so that they can communicate without becoming emotional.”
When it comes to securing a new opportunity, using your contacts and networks will also be helpful.
“During uncertain times, employers will look for internal referrals and personal recommendations over reviewing hundreds of resumes – many often not suited to the role,” says Ms Lambart.
“Don’t be afraid to let your personal and professional network know that you are looking for work and make it easy for them to help you.
“Be specific about what you can offer and what you are looking for.”
A SILVER LINING
While there’s no denying the scary and uncertain aspects of redundancy, it can provide a time to re-evaluate your career and life and eventually lead to a “really positive change”.
“In many cases, individuals actually look back on a redundancy and realise it was actually the best thing that ever happened to them,” she says.
“A few years ago, I worked with a client who had been made redundant from a policy role. Through the career coaching process, he determined that he really didn’t enjoy policy work at all and really wanted to return to a role working with animals. He had worked in customs as a dog handler many years before in the UK.
“Following the outplacement program, he found a part-time policy role and set up his own dog training and walking business which he continues to run very happily today.”
Reflecting on the past few months, Ms Fazzinni says her redundancy gave her time to update her portfolio and think about her career.
“A lot of the jobs I was finding were a bit of everything. It made me realise I wanted to look into other fields and develop my social media, photography and videography skills as well,” she says.
“(Having the time off) allowed me to take a minute and think about what I really want to be doing and if there was more to my career that I wanted.”
Ms Fazzinni says she’s particularly enjoyed expanding her skill set at Naval Group Australia, which is looking to create 2800 jobs as part of the Commonwealth’s Future Submarine Program. As a result many of her colleagues have recently joined the company in a similar way.
“I think being so fresh out of uni, I didn’t ever think I would go through something like this, especially so quickly,” she says.
“But having started here and speaking to my friends at other places, I realised that even without COVID it’s something that happens quite regularly. I just wasn’t aware of it.”
This article was created in partnership with SEEK.
Originally published as Woman’s career lesson after redundancy