Life after retrenchment

PHOTO: Getty
PHOTO: Getty

RETRENCHMENTS are unfortunately a reality in South Africa. Losing your job is stressful and can leave you feeling uncertain about your future and you will experience feelings of shock, disbelief and anger.  Aside from a need to familiarise yourself with labour laws, it is also important that you understand the reasons behind your termination.  If you have been retrenched, the organisation may offer you a variety of services to help you get back on your feet, it is advisable to use them.


Although being retrenched is challenging, try to stay composed and professional at all times. The way you portray yourself during this difficult time will reveal a lot about your character. Maintaining a composed and dignified persona shows that you are not a victim and shows a level of maturity. Financial accountant, Nomfundo Manci-Ring from Joburg, adds that it will be easier to maintain a positive relationship with your manager and colleagues going forward, which could be beneficial to you in future job search endeavours. “Look at your monthly budget and consider cutting down on things that are not living necessities such as entertainment. Try to adjust to living below your means and explain to your family that things will not be the same,” she says. Nomfundo says it is advisable to manage your finances and have a budget no matter your financial situation. “Be money wise when you are retrenched. Draw up a list of expenses that you can cut out and areas where you can cutback. Once you get your retrenchment package, pay off clothing accounts and close them and start buying things cash as you can’t accumulate debt when you no longer have a job,” she advises. “It is important that the entire family understands that money may be tight and you may have to do without certain luxuries. Don’t spend money on shopping sprees. If possible, start a business with your retrenchment package to bring in money. You can build rooms at the back of your house and get rent every month. You can start a tuck shop or any other business you have a passion for as you will enjoy the work and profits will follow, but make sure you don’t spend all your money on paying debt or the business. “Only use some of the money for income generating purposes so you can continue getting some sort of income every month,” advises Nomfundo.


Nomfundo says you should use this time to refine your CV, which should focus on the activities you were involved in at your previous job and explain how you contributed over and above what was expected of you.  “You can register with as many agencies as possible and ask them to keep you on their database so that they can call you for any opportunities. It is not a bad thing to start applying for jobs on the internet. It won’t be easy, but also volunteer at companies you are interested in working for as you might be the first one to be considered should a vacancy come up,” she says. “It’s never easy, but you need to keep applying and be patient as you might go to lots of interviews and not get hired, but keeping positive and believing that your day is coming will help you not to feel like giving up.”


Nomfundo says it is advisable to improve your skills like doing a course or attending workshops in your field to broaden your knowledge and skills. “The more skilled you are, the better chance you have of getting the job you are looking for. Remember that you got the previous job with your current qualifications,” she says. She adds, “Sometimes experience is not enough if it is not backed up by the relevant qualifications.”


Turn challenges into an opportunity Use this time to think about what you want to do. This may be the ideal time to plan a future and career that you will enjoy. Think about your strengths, weaknesses and empower yourself with skills needed in the market. Learning new skills can give you the edge over your competitors.

Keep your networks strong At a time like this, it is very important to keep positive people close to you who will keep you motivated because retrenchment can be a major confidence knock. You must also keep your networks close. These should include people who would know about new opportunities for potential employment. Keep enquiring with your close networks about new job opportunities that have become available anywhere they are aware of. You must also do you own job searches on the internet.

Rebrand yourself Being retrenched can leave you feeling as though your skills and knowledge are no longer in demand. You need to first trust in what you know then find out if what you know is still relevant and in demand for your market. If you see gaps in your knowledge and have the financial means to fill them, sign up for a course or a qualification to further your studies. Then align yourself to the demands of the market in the industry you are qualified to function within and the one you wish to work in.