Redundancy sucks and it’s even worse when you’ve got a family
The first time I got made redundant was in 2008. I was working as an editorial assistant, my first job straight out of college, and I was loving it. Then the recession happened.
What was a promising new magazine was abruptly shuttered and I was out of work, left with no option but to sign on. Thankfully I was only 21 then and still lived at home with my parents, so it was largely an emotional blow rather than a financial one – although it did throw a spanner in the works of my career, which took a while to get back on track, but that’s another story.
The frequency of my blogs has been a bit on the slow side recently but it’s for a very good reason. Back in the middle of June I was handed my notice and left without a job for the second time. It wasn’t a shock and yet it came totally out of left field at the same time.
Just the month before, my colleagues and I were all whisked off for day out of the office on a trip to Thorpe Park as an incentive, during which there were cash prizes to be won and so on, suggesting everything was heading in the right direction. Then a few weeks later we’re being given a date that we need to have our bags packed by.
But at the same time, my team and I weren’t fools. As journalists, we’d done some digging and what we found wasn’t encouraging. And beyond that, as people with eyes in our head, we had our suspicions that something was up. So that, coupled with the fact we all felt overworked and under-appreciated – I mean, there’s only so many 9am-1am working days you can do without snapping – is another reason we were all already on the search for work elsewhere.
Still, when you get abruptly called into the meeting room with little warning and see a stack of envelopes sitting on the table, it doesn’t inspire confidence. And there’s a very real difference between jumping overboard of your own volition and being forced to walk the plank. After a hazy ten minutes or so of having my suspicions confirmed by the director and finance manager, the worst had happened: I had one month left of work and then it was game over. But the fact we were already in the middle of the month meant the usual pay at the end of the month and then just two weeks to follow for the month afterwards. There was going to be no severance, goodwill package or otherwise to accompany that final fortnight of income.
I felt like I was in a very real and vivid nightmare. The first thing I did was leave the building to call J. How the hell was I going to afford the mortgage? Spending on the holiday we’d arranged just days before this news dropped? Or pay for anything else for that matter, like the electric? I don’t mind saying that savings were in extremely short supply, a situation many parents can probably relate to, so there was no rainy-day fund. Panicked confusion had set in and my head was racing – at a much faster pace than when I found out I was becoming a dad.
While I’m normally the calm and composed one in our relationship, acting as chill out music to J’s worries, the boot was on the other foot. It was her who had to convince me with soothing whale-esque tones that everything was going to be fine, while reminding me just how much I hated the job.
It’s true, I did hate my job. While I enjoyed my profession and what I did in and of itself, writing and meeting fascinating people, as well as much appreciation for the team who also shared my frustrations, I was often fed up and stressed. The hours of 9am-5.30pm seemed to be a work of fiction, while opportunities to leave the office to see contacts in the flesh – a key element of working in the journalism and media industry – was non-existent. I lost count of the trips I had to pass up – Paris and New York spring to mind – simply because there weren’t enough staff members to manage the ever-increasing workload.
The only benefit of working at this place is that it was my route out of London when Roma was just eight months old. Prior to this job I was working in Chelsea and the commute had become unbearable and I felt as though I would miss out on a great deal and end up ripping out my hair if I didn’t make a change, so being in driving distance of home seemed ideal. I was sold a dream. At least I could leave work on time in Chelsea. The hair-ripping feelings quickly reappeared when I realised what I’d got myself into at the then-new job.
But as for everything being fine, as J suggested, was she mad? I couldn’t see it. Still, even if I disagreed, it was far better to air any stresses, fears or worries than bottling them up.
Every moment outside of work, and often while there, was spent looking for a new role to replace the one that had been ripped away from me. LinkedIn was forever being scrolled for opportunities, I scanned Twitter, I subscribed to countless job newsletters, it was all consuming and I could think of little else but finding a new source of income. As a result, my sleep pattern was shocking, with late nights spent tailoring covering letters and saving potential new posts to apply for the next day.
Looking for a job is typically not out of desperation, it’s because you want change, whether that’s because your manager is an arse, you want to try something different or fancy a pay rise – it’s usually relatively leisurely in any case.
But I was like a man possessed. Every time my phone rang, I’d hope it was an interview opportunity and my email inbox and spam had never been more in order as I scanned them every hour in search of good news. Things were happening. I had phone interviews, video chats and meetings but obviously nobody was in as much of a hurry as I was to get something locked down, which I wanted to do before our holiday that was drawing ever closer. The last thing I wanted was to get back from the week away and still be jobless.
My persistence paid off. The goal of finding a job before the holiday was achieved and I could breathe a sigh of relief. In truth it’s probably the quickest I’ve ever found a new job, which is probably partly due to the seniority level I’ve reached, but also how relentless and hungry I was to secure something.
The new role has actually brought on a career change in the process. Instead of working directly in journalism as I have done for the better part of ten years, I’ve taken that background and carried it over into PR and communications in the role of content manager, while still retaining my nose for a story.
I’m three months in and it’s still quite an adjustment but so far so good – and the best news of all is I’ve passed my probation now! Plus, the added benefit is that the company actually values family life and understands staff have commitments outside of the office. They realise I have a daughter too, rather than asking me how my “son” is – a blunder the MD once made in attempt to act as though he valued his employees.
In fact, unlike my last job, Roma has actually even visited the office I’m at now – something I had no intention of subjecting her to where I worked previously.
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Best day at work EVER!!! Very impressed by my new assistant. Thanks for the visit @jennashilstfit 😊💻 #DADultLife #SpecialGuests #WorkLifeBalanced #WorkExperience #NewIntern #CoventGarden #PRagency #PRlife #agencylife #dadblog #daddyblogger #dadbloggers #dadlife #daddilife #daddydoinwork #mixedkids #perfectlyblended #mixedfamily #mixedfamilies #mixedracecouple #mixedcouples #mixedracechildren #biracialfamily #biracialcouples #lovehasnocolor #daddyblog #daddydaughtermoments #fatherhood #ukparentbloggers
The point I’m making here is that, if you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, there is a way out – even if it’s not one that you necessarily foresaw or planned for. You just need to push on and persist. I didn’t predict changing my career and industry but, as scary as that notion can be, as they say, change is a good thing, right?
Well, I’ll let you know if “they” turn out to be correct… I am working back in London now after all. And we all know that comes with unique transport experiences.