We’re used to the idea of redundancy being something to dread. But what happens if you DO want or need it and it doesn’t happen?
When the option of voluntary redundancy came up at work, social media copywriter and blogger Charlotte Moore decided it was the perfect opportunity to make the leap to freelance (with a handy pay off to tide her over). But as she explains, things didn’t quite go according to plan.
Redundancy can be an exciting opportunity
We live in a world where there’s no such thing as a job for life anymore – but the flipside to this insecurity is that we can shape our careers in a much more varied and exciting way.
Although the word ‘redundancy’ can still strike fear into your heart, it can also be an amazing opportunity. The corporate giant I work for is making huge structural changes to the business, and recently threw open the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy.
And after three and a half years of loyal service, I decided it was time for change and applied.
Formulating ‘plan A’
It felt like the time felt right to enter the world of freelancing, experiencing different brands, cultures and locations, while sharing and broadening my own skills. And a redundancy payment would be enough of a comfort blanket for any gaps between contracts, to enable me to pay the bills while exploring new opportunities.
Many people I worked with were also applying (although it was spoken about in hushed tones), so a few of us made plans about what our exciting futures would look like in our post-redundancy glow. It felt like an exciting new horizon was about to dawn.
D-day came – and went
After much anticipation, HR meetings entered our diaries and through wild speculation and joining dots that may or may not exist, we worked out that the people who hadn’t applied for redundancy seemed to have theirs all on one day, and the three of us who had applied, had ours on another.
This was surely a good sign that they were planning to break the happy news to all the people who’d applied on the same day! My friend was first in, and came out 20 minutes later with a brown envelope and a beaming smile on her face as her package was confirmed.
When it was my turn, I practically skipped to the boardroom, eager to hear my good news, when after a minute of formalities the bombshell was dropped – I hadn’t been accepted for voluntary redundancy.
We’d always been told that applying was no guarantee we’d get it, but at the same time the message was loud and clear – if you’re telling us you don’t want to work here anymore, then we’ll honour as many of these requests as we can.
So while the manager leading the meeting was eager to tell me how great it was that the business obviously valued my specialist skills, it simply fell on deaf ears.
My experience of working here has proved repeatedly that they only value generalists, and it was also made clear that all of the redundancies are a cost saving exercise. Ultimately, keeping me in a role that still existed was cheaper than paying me off and replacing me. Plan A was now a crumpled ball of paper by the bin.
What happens next?
Fortunately, I had a two week holiday in California booked for the next day (coincidental timing!), so could go away and think it about it a little, while enjoying myself a lot.
Released from the tense atmosphere of work, plan B started to formulate itself in my mind which as it turns out, isn’t so different from plan A. As a great believer in doing things you’re passionate about, I’ve decided that now’s the right time to take a risk and hand in my notice anyway.
I don’t have much of a savings safety net, which is scary, but I do have a huge belief that things will work out as they’re meant to, and I’ll find new opportunities before too long.
You don’t always get what you want
Life doesn’t always turn out exactly as you planned, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue your dreams.
Being rejected for redundancy doesn’t have to quash my future plans. I just need to think creatively, have a little patience and just throw myself into the new adventure and enjoy the ride.
And who knows, maybe the lack of safety net may make me work harder at freelancing and become more successful as a result?
Working on your plan A (or B)?
If like Charlotte you’re dreaming of going freelance, you may find these articles helpful:
- Your 30 second guide to launching a freelance career.
- Video – what freelancers wish they’d known from the start.
- Your first 10 steps to a successful freelance career.
- How to raise your freelance rates – the complete guide.
- How to stay human when you’re a freelance mum.
- Do you have the right personality to be a freelancer?
Charlotte has now launched her freelance career. She’s looking for exciting freelance copywriting and social media opportunities by day, and is a vegan-curious food blogger at night.