Coping with redundancy as a working mum

It’s never nice finding out that you’re being made redundant, but as a working mum, the news can come as a bigger shock.

You may worry that you won’t find another position that offers you the benefits or flexibility of your old role. Or you could find your already-fragile post-baby confidence knocked even harder.

But what can, at the time, feel like the worst possible news, may actually turn out to be a positive, life-changing event. Being taken out of your comfort zone once in a while can actually be a good thing. 

It’s all too easy to stay in a job you’re not that passionate about simply because it’s secure and comfortable. But when that security is taken away from you, you have less to lose, and can find the courage to pursue your real career dreams.

Checking your redundancy rights as a working mum

The first thing you need to do when you’re informed that you’re being made redundant is to check your employer is acting within the law (if you feel that they haven’t you have the right to appeal). If you’re not sure that you’re being treated legally or fairly, contact ACAS for information and independent advice.

Dealing with your feelings about redundancy

It’s normal to experience a range of feelings when you’re made redundant – from panic, anger and disbelief, to relief and freedom. You may find the thought of looking for a new position quite scary, especially if you need a position that offers flexible arrangements.

Try not to be tough on yourself, and allow yourself some time to come to terms with how you feel. Even if you hated your job, redundancy isn’t very pleasant. Talking through your feelings can help you to make sense of, and come to terms with, them.

So make sure you share them with supportive friends and family – or other colleagues who may be in the same position. They might have advice, experience or different perspectives that can help you feel more empowered and view your situation in a different light.

Staying confident after redundancy

Taking time out to have a baby can sometimes knock a new mum’s career confidence – and the guilt many working mums feel at being torn between their career and family can affect how they feel about their professional skills. Add redundancy to the mix and it’s hardly surprising if you start doubting your value.

But in fact there are plenty of reasons to be proud of your achievements, and confident in your ability to succeed in an exciting new position. 

You only have to look at the number of studies that show that working mums often work longer and harder, and waste less time, than their colleagues – especially when offered flexible arrangements.

You also probably don’t count the number of ‘soft’ skills  that you’ve acquired since becoming a mum – skills like negotiating, working under pressure, time management, dealing with unreasonable people and multi-tasking.

These are all highly valued skills that are well-honed by any mum of a baby or young child.

Create new opportunities after redundancy

Redundancy doesn’t have to be a backward step. There are countless examples of women starting businesses, launching successful freelance careers and getting better jobs after being made redundant.

While still a new mum, Hannah Martin, co-founder of Talented Ladies Club, secured a much better position paying £10,000 a year more after being made redundant.

Award-winning garden designer Sharon Hockenhull was inspired to start her business after being laid off suddenly when she was 12 weeks pregnant.

And artist Lucy Ames and personal trainer Trisha Sharps both launched successful freelance careers after being made redundant from their joint job share.

So rather than the end of an era, try to see redundancy as the beginning of a potentially exciting new chapter in your life. Think about what you really want from a job or career.

Can you negotiate better terms or pay with a new employer? Maybe structure your work around your home life better? Have you always wanted to launch a business or go freelance but never have the nerve while securely employed?

Now’s your chance to make the leap – especially if you have a cushion of redundancy pay.

Revamping your CV 

If you are planning to look for a new job, it’s important to give yourself the best chance of success. So make sure your CV doesn’t contain any of our 10 deadly CV sins, and looks good.

As a rule, you should tweak your CV for every job you apply for, to ensure you reflect the specific skills and experience they’re seeking. A really brilliant CV can help you secure a much better job than the one you’ve lost, so it’s worth the effort to get it right.

If you’re stuck on what to add to your CV, ask colleagues or your manager to help you. They may suggest qualities and achievements that you’ve forgotten or haven’t valued.

They can also give you a much more rounded picture of your worth to a potential employer – and help to boost your confidence in your abilities at the same time.

Getting a new job

It may be a while since you last looked for a job, so it’s worth brushing up on your skills. First you need to create a professional job hunting plan and create and maximise your job hunting opportunities.

It’s also important to ensure your application letters are well written, and to prepare carefully for a successful interview.

Coping with rejection

As talented and experienced as you may be, it’s important to remember that you probably won’t get every single job you apply or interview for. Your skills may not be exactly what the recruiter needs at this time. And if the role isn’t right for you, you wouldn’t be happy working there anyway.

So try to view every interview as not just your one shot of landing a job, but a chance to hone your skills and maybe even make a useful professional contact for the future.

Keeping positive 

Redundancy is a worrying time for most people – working mums or not. But with a positive outlook this can also be a great time to take stock of your work life and ensure it’s meeting all your needs. And if not, make some important changes to help you stay balanced and happy.