The R word - one mutter of it strikes panic to many in the UK and thousands cannot escape its terrifying grasp. It's a harsh reality that many worldwide have faced over the last few years. Things are getting better in 2013 though...or so it seems. The Office for National Statistics' figures show that 30 million in the UK were employed at 2012's end, a 154,000 increase on the quarter to September. Yet recent events tell a much different story. At the time of writing, HMV continues to close stores whilst in administration, John Lewis culled 325 managers and 164 Blockbuster stores were shut down along with 800 potential job losses.
But it's not only major retailers that continue to suffer. Independent retailers struggle too: a fact I faced when I was made redundant from my job at a clothing store in the New Year. The way I found out was painfully blunt. Three large words, illuminated by spotlights, simply read: "CLOSING DOWN SALE!" I was now part of the statistic everyone fears of becoming. Partly due to my own blind optimism - I never thought I'd become redundant - and partly due to the job being my main source of income through uni, the idea of unemployment was excruciating. It was through sheer determination in the following weeks that helped me overcome such worrying times and land new employment. These were the ways I survived those horrible weeks and hopefully you'll find them useful too if you're in a similar situation...
Redundancy is frightening and I'm not suggesting you throw a huge party the moment it happens. But your life will become much harder the more you think of the negatives. My co-workers and I never frowned even though we knew what was coming. Just keep smiling, everything will become less daunting and life will seem less dreadful.
Work, work and work:
"Don't burn your bridges," my manager often stressed to me in our final weeks.
Be proactive and just continue working. The worst thing at this point is to sit around twiddling your thumbs and do nothing else. The more I carried on working, the less I thought about the redundancy. Keeping yourself busy will ease your mind and occupy it with other thoughts.
Don't take any comment too seriously:
In retail especially, customers become much nosier if they know you're being made redundant. Their list of seemingly endless questions includes: "When are you closing down? Have you found another job or are you permanently unemployed? Are you really closing down or is this some sort of scam? Will you punch me in the face for asking so many questions?" It goes on. Over-inquisitive customers can make the situation more stressful but don't take them too seriously. Angering someone can only make things worse, for both you and them.
Never lose hope:
The simplest pieces of advice are often the best. In the weeks leading up to my redundancy, I probably contributed to global warming by printing and handing dozens of CVs to every single store in my local shopping centre. If you've been at your old job long enough, you've probably earned valuable skills that set you apart from your competitors. Skills employers love, skills that will persuade employers to hire you.
It could be worse...
You could be this guy.