"How to re-enter the job market"

“How to re-enter the job market”

Having to re-enter the job market after not having to do so for an extended period of time can be a frustrating, fearful and overwhelming task. Thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever to reconnect with former colleagues, network, search job posts, and market yourself.

Follow these 5 tips to help you re-enter the workforce at the top of your game!

1. Networking
Harvard Business School, states that  65 to 85 percent of jobs are found through networking. Reconnect with old colleagues on LinkedIn, let family and friends know that you’re looking to get back into the workforce, and embrace personal connections to help you land that perfect job.

2. Social media strategy
Social media is more than a fun way to connect with friends – it can also help you land a job.TweetMyjobs.com reported that about 30% of job seekers use social media as their primary job search tool. Tweet actively, and follow companies and individuals that interest you. Let friends on Facebook know that you’re looking. Follow forums in a field that you’re interested in, jump in on conversations to share your thoughts. Create a Pinterest board with jobs that you’re interested in, and even post your resume on Pinterest to spread the word!

3. Make yourself visible and irresistible
Keeping a personal food or fashion blog? Your personal blog can be your biggest career asset and can help you get ahead in your job search by showcasing your writing style and your personality. Sites like about About.me or Flavors.me also make it simple and fun to market yourself, your blog, Linkedin profile, press and other vital information all in one place. Carefully select the information you plan to share when creating your professional online presence. It’s imperative to balance your online quality and quantity!

4. Don’t just say it, prove it!
Think you’re an Excel expert?…Show just how much you know! Look beyond what you learned in school.  It’s important to take a step back, reflect on your day-to-day activities and assess your skills — traditional or not. Sometimes your favorite hobby can be a career asset.

5. Craft a CV that’s unique to you!
You are an extraordinary individual, so make sure that your CV represents YOU! Think outside the box. If you’re a graphic designer or someone in a creative field, design an infographic resume (Mashable’s Erica Swallow gives 4 Simple tools for Creating an Infographic Resume). Looking in a more conservative field? You can still add character to your traditional resume by showing off your Smarterer skills badges in the skills section of your resume!

Use this as an opportunity to get to know yourself better again, re-connect with people you know and re-market.  Just because you are without a job, does not mean you are without valuable skills, knowledge, abilities and potential.

This entry was posted in How-To, Job Search, Learn A Skill, Personal Branding on April 2, 2012 by Elizabeth Dobrska.

How to grieve your job loss

If a close one dies – we grieve. If a pet dies – we grieve. Why then, when we lose our job – do we not grieve? We should. You have invested most of your life, time and energy into your job. A significant part of you is now gone. Failing to grieve will have consequences that will impact on your personal wellbeing and your ability to move forward to seek new opportunities.

So how do you grieve your job loss?

Recognise what you’re experiencing. Give yourself time to let go. Confront the emotional reality of what is happening to you


Experience your feelings. You will experience a wide variety (and intensity) of emotions. Recognise they are part of the process. Let them be. You are not crazy – just a normal person experiencing normal feelings for something you have lost 


Release your emotions. Share your emotions and experiences with others. Talk about it, write about it. Let the feelings out


Have a “funeral” for your job. If a person or pet close to us dies – you will probably have a funeral. Why? It helps you to deal with death and find some closure. Don’t isolate yourself. Gather with other people experiencing the same as you. Write an obituary and  “bury” the past


Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Take it easy on yourself. You need to be own best friend even more at this time.  Find a reason to laugh everyday


Don’t be ashamed. Don’t isolate yourself and hide your retrenchment from those around you. You will only increase your sense of shame and sadness and deprive yourself of people and opportunities that might be able to help you


You are not alone. People around you can help you get perspective. There are other people experiencing the same as you. You are not the first and you won’t be the last person to be retrenched. Connect with others. Remind yourself that you are more than your job


Is it that bad? Maybe you actually hated your job. Now you have the opportunity to explore other options. You just may have the permission you have been seeking to be able to move on.


You can’t fix everything right now. Don’t rush the grieving and the process of feeling.  In time you will be motivated and feel energised to move on.  The more thoroughly you have worked through the feelings, the better equipped, and the stronger you will feel to move forward.


Move on. Just as you can’t rush the emotions – you can’t wallow in them for ever. There is a time to dig yourself out of your “dark hole”. If you have been processing emotions for months and there is no action or inclination to move forward – please contact a qualified therapist, coach or counsellor to assist you in dealing with these emotions during this time of your life  

Some quick tips to deal with your retrenchment

“Some quick tips to deal with your retrenchment”

Try not to take it personally

Retrenchments happen because your employer is doing badly – not because you are. Every company and industry in both South Africa, and globally have felt the impact of the financial crisis, so every business is under pressure to cut costs.

Look on the bright side

You have received a financial package that should improve your finances – even if just temporarily. Get as much value out of it as possible.  Spend some time on yourself – introspection, planning and even relaxing. Think about what you can do to make tour next job better than your last one.

Keep in touch

It is important to maintain contact with your friends. Keep family close to you. Stay in touch with your colleagues and network of contacts at your previous employer. Catch up with and let them help cheer you up. Possibly your social network could help you find your next job.

Use the helps that’s on offer

Explore what is available out there to support you at this time – courses, assessments, support groups, forums, workshops. There is nothing to lose – only experience, skills and personal insight to be gained.  

"I just feel so ..."

“I am so angry. I am so scared. I am so sad. Why me? What about the future? What will happen to me? What about my family? People are depending on me. I have failed them. I am a loser. How dare they do this to me? I gave everything to this job and to this company.” 

Sound familiar? You are not alone. These are normal reactions and feelings that most people experience once retrenched. Whether you are on a list of potential retrenchees, or you have just received your retrenchment letter, or you have already been retrenched, the common factor is that you will be totally overwhelmed by your emotions. You will experience a wide variety of and very intense emotions. 

A retrenchment and processing your emotions is similar to dealing with the loss of someone close to you. Your overwhelming emotions are probably those of anger, fear and depression. Your emotions and the way you are feeling cannot be ignored. Emotions are followed by thoughts, thoughts by actions and behaviour. Dealing positively with your emotions lays the groundwork for personal growth.  Feelings, positive or negative, are important, as you cannot get rid of them, but must learn to deal with and accept them. 

Emotions are immediate and cannot be switched off. It is not a concern that you are experiencing all of these emotions, but the concern is that they have to be properly dealt with and wisely managed. In most work environments, people are usually taught and trained to increase their productivity and performance.  People are not usually equipped with resources on how to manage their emotions – and even less so during a retrenchment. 

Being unemployed is a life crisis for most people. The degree of psychological and physical problems resulting from a retrenchment usually correlates to the degree of commitment to and investment in the job. Unaddressed emotional issues may affect the way in which you see yourself, which will impact on your self-esteem. The lower your self-esteem is at this time, the less your ability and success will be at dealing with the practical issues of managing your health, finances and future career prospects. 

Some of the main negative effects of retrenchment from an emotional perspective are:

  • Your family will also experience the emotions you do. It also involves being sensitive to the feelings of those closest to you – they too, in their own way, feel the anger, despair, sadness and frustration with you 
  • You will feel as if you are on an emotional roller coaster. Minor irritations erupt into major conflicts. You feel doubt, anger, disbelief, depression, and as if you have been thrown overboard in a storm. You are facing an uncertain future and naturally you feel loss, shock, betrayal, anger, denial fear, helplessness, rejection and loneliness 
  • You might also feel victimised. You have invested yourself in your job and that has been lost. Your efforts went unnoticed.
  • Your self-esteem is damaged. You may feel like a “loser”. Your confidence may be negatively affected and impact your ability to go and find another job, potentially resulting in having to deal with more rejection 
  • You will feel stressed on an emotional level, which will probably affect you physically too

You will go through the same phases and feelings as if someone close to you had died. Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross describes the typical phases of emotions a person experiences when losing someone close to them:

  • Denial and isolation - your first reaction will be that of shock and numbness. This soon becomes one of denial – “No, it cannot be me”
  • Anger - “Why me?” You are angry that your life activities are interrupted and your work, your relationships and your purpose have all been taken away from you. There is so much unfinished business
  • Bargaining - you might want to “bargain” with your employer or family members – “just one more chance”, “if this… then that…”
  • Depression - there is loss. It could be for losses that have past, or for the losses that are still to come because of you retrenchment. These feelings can be quite intense and debilitating, which can in turn lead to anxiety, followed by sleep disruption, irritability, apathy and low self-esteem. None of these are beneficial for a job search process
  • Acceptance - this is not the same as feeling happy, optimistic and positive, but it replaces some of the feelings of pain and emptiness. There is a degree of acceptance to the retrenchment
  • Hope - hope maintains people and gives people a sense of mission and purpose in life 

So you have been retrenched. You know you are on an emotional roller coaster and that all these feelings need to be dealt with in order for you to minimise your stress levels and move on, but HOW?

You need to start with looking inwards first. What is your personality? What are your values? What is your attitude? Who are you really? What do you really want in life? You also need to allow yourself the time to grieve, feel anger, be depressed, anxious and seek emotional support from those around you.

Express your emotions

Be aware of what you are feeling, acknowledge them, work through them. The first step in managing emotions is recognising you are feeling them. Healing is connected to understanding what happened to you. Feelings serve as a guide to help you make sense of what is going on inside, what are the main issues affecting you and how to deal with them. Talk about your emotions – it will help you get perspective and receive support and outside opinions. Talking about your frustrations will help you become more focussed. Talking about your feelings helps relieve emotional pressure and transforms in into action. Talking about the problem does not change it, but leaves you feelings less emotionally tangled. Try writing a journal or “storytelling”.  Form or join a support group 

Are you a victim or a survivor?

What is your attitude towards the retrenchment? Are you a survivor – you will emerge from this experience with previously unknown strengths and abilities, learn lessons as you go along, set goals, rebuild your life, find value in the retrenchment? Or are you going to blame and all and everything around you and never move forward and beyond this?

Self confidence

Pay attention to self-confidence and self-esteem. Focus on your strengths, your abilities, why people around you respect and need you, the value you bring to tasks and relationships around you. What is it that has made you so unique – and one-in-52 billion?

A positive attitude

Surround yourself with positive people. Focus on your strengths, recall successes. Remember your job was made redundant – not you!

Emotional Intelligence

Knowing and managing your emotions – and those of the people around you. Pay attention to this even more at this time during your retrenchment. Strive your best to develop and practice characteristics of: knowing who you are and where you are going;  having a clear picture of the future, live according to values and beliefs, treat others with respects, empathy and compassion, and nurture close relationships.

There is no shame in experiencing all these emotions. In fact, it is completely normal and good for you. Part of coming to terms with a retrenchment is going through the emotional rollercoaster you may experience. What is important to remember is that you are able to express your feelings in the right way, to the right person and appropriate to the situation. 

Do not hesitate to speak to a qualified therapist, coach or counsellor to assist you in dealing with these emotions during this time of your life. 

Some more words of encouragement:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’” 

—Eleanor Roosevelt

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”

—Nelson Mandela

“Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honoured. They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place”    

—Judith Wright

Dealing with Adversity

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet

How true are these words?  Everyone goes through times of failure, challenge and adversity.  Sometimes challenges are the catalyst a person needs to dare to face new opportunities. We can triumph over obstacles we encounter and ultimately gain experience from them.

This could not ring truer for when a person has just been retrenched. There are many people through the world and through history that have experienced adversity. What makes them stand out from others is that they have never allowed those bad experiences to drown, overtake or swallow them up whole. They didn't believe their negative experience was the worst thing in the world, instead believing: “what happened to me may have been bad, but other people are worse off. I'm not giving up, and I'm not going to let this beat me.”

Each country has some of their favourite inspirational role models. Here are just a handful of mine:


Alison was abducted by two men at knife point, repeatedly raped, stabbed and left for dead on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. Having had her throat slit 16 times and 35 stab wounds in the abdomen, Alison held her head up with one hand, her intestines with the other, and crawled to the road where she collapsed. She was found by a young veterinary student and after waiting two hours for an ambulance, was taken to hospital. On arrival, no-one believed that a person with such severe wounds could possibly live! But she did! She has an unbelievable attitude towards life and everyone can learn from it.

Natalie du Toit

When, in early 2001, Du Toit had her left leg amputated following a scooter accident, she ended up encouraging tearful family members while recovering in hospital and within a week of leaving hospital was back in the swimming pool, even before she had re-learned how to walk. A year later she won the 50m and 100m Elite Athlete with a Disability freestyle swimming at the Commonwealth Games breaking two world records. Natalie also made it to the final of the 800m able-bodied open freestyle where she finished just 46 seconds behind the winner.

Victor Vermeulen

Victor paints by mouth and coaches cricket in his spare time, but not too long ago he was being hailed as one of South Africa’s great Cricketing hopes, until a “silly accident” diving into a pool saw Vic confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. While most people would see such a setback as final, this delightful individual saw to see it rather as the start of a whole new chapter. “I might have become one of South Africa’s great cricketers and provided the fans with some good entertainment, but this way I believe I am actually able to leave a much more lasting message in the minds of my audiences”, he says. “People need to start being grateful for what they have – even the littlest things, and once they do that, their lives will change for ever”.

Sibusiso Vilane

Sibusiso is an accomplished and popular motivational speaker who speaks all over South Africa, touching people everywhere with his warmth and humility. He tries to talk to as many young people as possible and tells them not only to dream, but to never give up on their dreams, believe in them and go for them wholeheartedly. Sibusiso is one of only a handful of South Africans, and the first black African, to achieve the feat of becoming a member of the Seven Summits club. The Seven Summits are the seven highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Sibusiso’s irrepressible spirit and infectious enthusiasm for life inspires and uplifts people, especially children, of all backgrounds and circumstances. As a professional speaker, his message is simple: every person has their own ‘Everest’ to climb. Whether you’re prepared for it or not, it’s there ­– challenging you to reach the top. And he points out that if he can do that in the most dangerous and inhospitable of conditions and against all the odds, so can you.

What can these people teach us about dealing with adversity?

It is all about:

  • a positive, optimistic and hopeful attitude
  • following your dreams
  • persistence
  • being the person you were meant to be
  • keeping moving forward – one step at a time

What else?

  • For a person that has been retrenched, it is normal to feel incredibly emotional – don’t be crippled by your negative feelings.  Take a step back from your problems so that you can critically determine the next steps.
  • Try focus on the good that may come out of the retrenchment .
  • Keep your perspective and avoid taking it personally.
  • Learn from it for future success.  Recognise that adversity doesn’t exist to burden you, but rather to teach you and provide you with opportunities.

You cannot define yourself by a bad experience or event. If you have failed, you need to remain positive and keep the event in perspective. So you have been retrenched. It doesn't mean you are a failure, it means that your company had to cut headcount and your position was one of them – not necessarily you personally.  Instead of believing “I am a failure”, what about “my employer no longer required that position, but I'm still okay. I can still be employed, productive, a winner and successful.”

Some more words of encouragement:

“The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.”

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Swiss-American psychiatrist

“Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.”

Zig Ziglar, American author and motivational speaker

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

Moliere, French playwright and actor

“I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10 000 ways that don’t work.”

Thomas Edison upon inventing the lightbulb

“Life is not about how many times you fall down. It's about how many times you get back up.”

Jaime Escalante, Bolivian educator.

“Quality of Life” after Retrenchment – you've got to be joking? Right...? Wrong!

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"Make a pact with yourself today to not be defined by your past. Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn't what you get for it, but what you become for it.”

  Dr Steve Maraboli (Behavioural Scientist, Peak-Performance Coach, Speaker, Author)


“Retrenchment” and “Quality of Life”. Is it even possible to consider these two concepts in the same sentence? How can one experience “Quality of Life” when your daily existence, your bread-and-butter and your reason for getting up every morning has been ripped out from under your feet? This is meant to be a time of despair, frustration, hopelessness and depression, but it does not need to be that way. Believe it or not, it is possible to have “Quality of Life”. Just as the butterfly symbolizes change and growth, so can retrenchment. When dealt with purposefully, it can be a time of great transformation – for you personally, your career and your relationships. 

Terms such as retrenchment, downsizing, staff reductions, work-sharing and job losses, are all becoming ever more common in the business world.  Not only in South Africa, but world-wide.  Recently in the press:

“Pioneer Foods is to retrench 1,200 mid- to senior management in order to increase its operational efficiency and ultimately expand profit margins,…” www.skillsportal.co.za22/10/2013

“The latest data of Statistics SA show that the unemployment rate could be even higher than 23.5%, according to a leading newspaper.  It is further reported than nearly 180 000 jobs were lost to the economy between January and March this year.” www.smetoolkit.org; Sept 2013

“Unemployment is at an all-time high.  According to Statistics SA’s 2013 Quarterly Labour Survey, the rate has increased by 100,000 people between the last quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.” www.ubuntumagazine;  Sept 2013

To add to this, with the whole world experiencing an increase in unemployment rates — South Africa’s unemployment rate alone is 25% — the potential to quickly and easily find another source of income is often significantly reduced.

What happens to a person once they have been retrenched? Most people experience a number of devastating side effects on all aspects of their lives, and the quality of their lives thereafter is naturally changed forever. Mostly the effects are felt in the following ways:


For most people, this is their main and overriding concern. Will be there enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month? How long before I get another salary? Will my retrenchment package be enough for my needs? How will my standard of living change? These are valid questions. However, research has shown that the financial impact is not as great in this area of one’s life, as in other areas. The impact has more to do with the meaning people attached to their money, security, and standard of living, than with their bank account balance. In essence, what money represents to the person is more important than the actual value of the money available to them.


Retrenchment is a life changing experience. Once retrenched, most people question their purpose, identity and values. They question the core of who they really are, as every person has a critical need to be able to work. By being retrenched, an important personal need is no longer being fulfilled, as many people define themselves, their existence and identity by the work they do. How often have you met a person for the first time, and within the first few minutes, you have each asked each other what the other does for a living? Retrenchment leaves most people feeling meaningless and easily replaceable. However, a benefit of retrenchment is that it forces people to redefine who they really are, and to re-evaluate their priorities and life values. 


It is normal that once a person has been retrenched, they will experience higher levels of stress. Stress often manifests itself physically – higher blood pressure, insomnia, abnormal eating patterns, lower energy, worse than usual abusive habits and illnesses, headaches, digestive problems, breathing and circulatory problems. How can a person overcome and prevent these negative symptoms? How can the stress reaction be re-directed in a more positive manner?


This is the area of a person’s life where they are most likely to experience the greatest side effects after being retrenched. It is an emotional time of someone’s life. Not only dealing with your own emotions, but also of those around you. Experiencing retrenchment can be likened to losing someone close to you, as you will experience and go through all the stages of loss. Just as a person would grieve for a loved one and go through certain emotional stages, so they will grieve for their jobs. Feelings of denial, anger, and depression are the norm.  


It is known that all people long to have some form of a relationship, bond, or connection with those around them. Support and fulfilment in relationships is important, but with retrenchment, a person will generally feel both isolated and rejected. They will also lose out on a large portion of normal socialising and interaction with people, and for many, will find themselves alone for the greater part of a day or week. Support and information sharing with friends and family can assist the person to deal so much easier with the retrenchment.


A person’s skills, qualifications, experience, decision-making and problem solving abilities play a critical role in the retrenchment experience. Over and above this, a person’s attitudes, thoughts, perceptions of life, people and events around them could also influence the whole retrenchment experience for them.  For many people, they can better cope with their retrenchment, not because of their mental abilities, but because of their positive outlook on life. 

In conclusion, these are just some of the side effects on all aspects of a person’s life that are affected by retrenchment.  By showing awareness and understanding of these effects, and being prepared for them, the consequences will be less severe when going through the retrenchment. - possibly even allowing a person to have a greater “Quality of Life” after their retrenchment, than they experienced before.

For the caterpillar, the cocoon is not the end, but merely the beginning of new and more beautiful things to come.  May retrenchment be the same for you.