Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Alex's story - Redundancy/Layoff with a Positive Outcome

One of the most common career pressure points is redundancy. Difficult for those directly affected, redundancy is also hard on the individuals who remain and the fall-out can take a long time for companies to overcome. Every redundancy story is different but a case study is a good way to illustrate how a career event that would traditionally be seen as a setback can be turned into a moment of opportunity with lasting, positive effects.

Alex, a senior client director at an advertising agency, was made redundant due to a change in client strategy that meant his industry experience was no longer required. He was offered outplacement but wanted to understand what was driving his career at a more fundamental level rather than just focus on being re-employed.

Instead of starting with a known objective, Alex allowed the answers to his career questions to suggest possible routes forward. As he learned more, his preferred direction became more defined. Alex found that his conversations with a growing network of contacts, recruiters and potential employers, became more interesting and that the elements he now understood as important to his new career direction, became easier to identify also.

After an intense period of discovery, networking and interviewing, Alex was successfully hired into a company and a role that he feels far better suited to than his previous situation. He is now with a company that values his expertise and joined the team with the exciting brief to lead and grow the business internationally.

Looking back at his experiences, Alex is still surprised by how hard redundancy hit him but, with the opportunity that now lies in front of him, along with a level of satisfaction that he describes as the best his career has offered to date, they are experiences that he finds it hard to imagine himself without.

Although there are moments that are difficult to live through for all concerned, the story above demonstrates that there are successes that begin with redundancy. In such stories, it is hard to find an application for traditional work/life balance or the 'destination first' methods of career planning. The typical redundancy situation offers most individuals the opportunity to focus on what is important to them (values), what they are qualified to do (talents) and what they are motivated to achieve (goals). There are no easy answers and the detail of Alex's hard work, commitment and bravery could fill an entire post. The clear message from Alex and those like him who have moved their careers on from redundancy is that, with the right approach, lasting and meaningful progress can be made.

Let me know your thoughts on this post and if you have any stories or situations that relate in any way! 

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