Yer fired: lets talk about unemployment

By Anna | February 18 2013 | 60 Comments

Being made redundant is crappy. Even in the best case scenario – you didn’t like your job anyway, you’ve got savings, you know you’ll get another job soon – there is something incredibly depressing about being taken into a room and told that you’re no longer necessary – to that organisation at least. Many, if not most of us have been there at some stage or another, so I know I wasn’t the only one who felt a pang of identification with the news that 300 HMV employees in Ireland will be made redundant as a result of the stores’ closures.

I got laid off from my old job at a magazine in 2009, along with several other staff members. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been a surprise – the market was in trouble, we knew our bosses were going to have to change things. But it was still a shock when, seemingly out of the blue, I was called into another room in the building and my boss told me they were going to have to let me go. I wasn’t angry and I didn’t resent it – she was really upset, and I knew she’d done her best to try and save our jobs. And although I loved my co-workers, I had been wondering whether life on the editorial side of journalism was right for me, and toyed with the idea of leaving.

But it was still a huge, horrible shock to be told I had no choice in the matter  – I was almost surprised at how upset I was. It wasn’t just the whole not-getting-paid thing. It was the fact that for three years, going to that office every day, seeing those people, had been my life. And then, suddenly, it wasn’t. It was like the ground had been pulled from under my feet. I was so wobbly I couldn’t even cycle home – I had to leave my bike there and go back and collect it a few days later. For at least a week, I felt shocked and a bit panicky. I felt I should be doing something about getting more work but I felt so shell-shocked I couldn’t bring myself to start.

In comparison to lots of people who get laid off, I was lucky. As a journalist, I’d worked as a freelancer before I got the job at the magazine, so in a way I was back where I started – I could still work as a freelancer, which isn’t the case with many professions. Also, I had savings. But freelance work never starts right away, and is shaky at the best of times.  So like almost everyone who gets made redundant, I had to sign on. The first day, the queue at the dole office went right out of the building, around a courtyard and on to the street. The sheer size of it was incredibly depressing. When I finally got inside, I could see people clearly signing on for the first time who looked stunned by the realisation that the 200 or so quid they held in their hands was their only income for a week – and maybe realising that there are many people who have had to live on that sort of money for years.

Like I said, I was lucky. After a while I was getting enough freelance work to live on – not hugely well, but I didn’t need to sign on. And I realised that I actually prefered the freedom of being self-employed, despite the lack of security. I’ve done okay since then – I still sometimes write for my old boss, who is lovely – and sometimes I think getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me. It allowed me more professional and creative freedom (and the ability to take the afternoon off and go for a walk if I feel like it). But that’s easy for me to say. I have friends who got laid off several years ago and haven’t found a proper job since.Being unemployed is depressing and dispiriting, even when you know there are others in the same boat.

I hope it all works out for the 300 people who have lost their jobs at HMV. I hope they all find work they want to do, or that at least they don’t  hate. And I hope that at some stage, some of them look back and think, ‘You know what? Losing that HMV job was the best thing that ever happened to me.’

So have you ever experienced the terrible surprise summons to the boss’s office? And what are your strategies for dealing with it?

hmv image via

Life, Politics, Work

60 Replies to "Yer fired: lets talk about unemployment"

  • IceQueen says:

    Yep, I’ve been there. Twice. Luckily for me, both times that I had been laid off were only for a short time. First time around the company closed (recruitment agencies are seldom needed in a recession!) but I had a new job within a couple of months. Second time I was lucky again in that I was only laid off 4 weeks before I managed to pick up this job. The second place I was in just got super-super quiet and there was no need for an extra person. Last in so I was first out.

    I was still living at home with parents and didnt have the responsibility of rent/mortgage/electricity being turned off etc to deal with.

    But it is still definitely dispiriting. And I dont have the type of job that can be done freelance. I have an awful fear that this job might go the same way. Its getting very quiet. But fingers crossed it doesnt happen. Now I DO have the responsibility of a mortgage and bills!

  • EvieM says:

    Yep, I got let go, 7 months into a 6 month trial (so she could go skiing before she sacked me) I got called into the office at 5pm on a Friday and told my services were no longer required. I am still a little bitter as I had been poached from a secure permanent job, that closed within 2 years and I would have gotten redundancy there. Also this was 3 months before my wedding, you try getting a job when you will need to take a month off to get married and go on a honeymoon that’s already paid for. I got some temp work and had a number of interviews where I was told the job would have been mine except for my wedding. By the time I got back the job opportunities were gone and I ended up working on checkouts in Tesco for 2 years until I had my son. I am now a stay at home mom and I work the odd few days part time every few weeks. I was stunned when it happened and cried for days I was so upset, it was nothing I’d done, they just didn’t have the business for another full time member of staff.

  • Shygirl says:

    I am unemployed.I finished a temp job around a month ago. I have been applying for literally every job, even ones I’m not really interested in doing. You just have to keep putting yourself out there. The temp job I was in are advertising again for temp staff. I applied. I don’t really want to go back, but what choice do I have.

  • witchgirl26 says:

    Not been laid off as such but the project I was working on ended & got called in to say as much and thanks very much. It was a shock as such because I’d been on it for 2 years (with the company for 4.5 in total) and I knew there was tidying up work to be done after the date they’d given me which they offered to other people. I’d been doing interviews as had an idea it was ending soon but hadn’t gotten anything. Was a bit panicky as I still didn’t have anything a week before my end date despite doing 8 interviews in one week. Luckily I got a call to say I’d gotten a job I’d gone for but they didn’t want me to start for a couple of weeks. I ended up on holidays down the west with my family for those weeks & was able to start into my current job then. I know I was one of the lucky ones though & that others on the project with me struggled to get jobs afterwards that weren’t only 6 month contracts.

  • Shygirl says:

    Thats the thing Witchgirl, a lot of jobs out there are maternity cover contracts, etc.

  • witchgirl26 says:

    Shygirl – I know which makes it tough for people to get any stability. The bf had a couple like that. I originally was offered a 3 month contract & turned it down 2 days before I was due to start for my now job as it was permanent (well 6 month probation but that’s fairly standard). Even the job I turned down said I’d be stupid not to take the permanent job in this climate. I really do feel so lucky with it though.

    I hope you find something that you like soon.

  • Belle - Delle says:

    Even though physically and financially it’s been a struggle I almost always think getting let go was the best thing that happened to me.
    I was sponsored in Australia and had to come home in 2009 to a country that had absolutely no architectural work available.
    But now I’m a writer, and I know I would have never made the leap if i hadn’t been made to.
    And now I’m off to NYC or LA to try my luck. So… yeah! It’s been tough financially but mostly it’s been positive. I know I’m lucky – I could sign on and that really helped and my parents have been very supportive re going back to college and helping me with the States — all massive loans of course, no hand outs, but at least I was able to get the loans, which I couldn’t have from the bank.

  • Anita says:

    I was made redundant from my waitressing job – what was galling was that they didn’t even tell me. They just quietly dropped me by simply not giving me any more shifts, which I thought was at least just bad manners.

    I qualified as a TEFL teacher some time ago. Due to the nature of my qualification, I’ve been doing “contract” work – I do something for about a year as per the contract, and then it ends and I look for more work. I worked overseas for 10 months, then came home hoping to find a job fairly quickly. This didn’t happen. For about 15 months, I was on the dole, except for 4 weeks where I got contract work. So I saved up my dole money and am now living in Latin America, looking for work. So far, nothing, but this is the quiet period apparently – it’s the summer holidays, schools aren’t open. So fingers crossed I find something – I felt that while I was young and didn’t have pets, a mortgage, or any responsibilities really, I might as well go overseas and seek my fortune! I understand not everyone can do this so I’m not proposing it as a solution – it was just things were so bad job-wise at home, that I was driven to drastic measures.

  • IceQueen says:

    I’m doing a job now that I really have no interest in. I’ve been offered the chance to train and move up and I have said that I will do it but thats only so that they think I am keen and will hopefully keep me on.
    It’s completely my own fault. I didnt work hard enough and didnt go to college after school. Even though I know I could have done really well. But at 17 I didnt know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life so I took on a job instead of college and this is where I have stayed. Dead-end jobs. Its good in a way as I have experience in the workplace etc which many employers look for.

    Has anyone ever done any home-study courses? Do they really work?

  • witchgirl26 says:

    IceQueen – haven’t done them myself but know that some of the big colleges now do them (UCD, DCU & I think Trinity). Might be worth having a look at their websites to see if theres anything that suites you on there as I’d say anything from there would be well recognised.

  • Elimare says:

    I work in IT and have been made redundant 3 times now. I’ve worked contract enough over the years to have savings set aside, so everytime it happens I have that to fall back on. However for the last 3 years I’ve been working contracts, no companies want to pay to take me with my 20 years experience on permanent when they can get 3 college grads for the same price.

    Mind you, I think when this last contract finishes in April I’m gonna jack in the whole IT thing and move onto something else.

  • IceQueen says:

    Thanks Witchgirl, I’ll have a look on their sites and see what is on offer. Thats great.

    I know you can do them with the likes of Kilroys college etc but I’m not sure if they give actual qualifications like Diplomas or Degrees.

  • Em says:

    My dad was made redundant a while back, but managed to find something else in the end thank god. But I think what made it so hard for him and all of us was that he’s very qualified but tossed aside after years of working in the company, and he’s of that age where you don’t talk about your feelings. At least on there’s support and like minded people who have no problem talking about things that are upsetting, rather than bottling it all up

  • Em says:

    Also IceQueen, maybe have a look at SkillNets- its a Government body set up to provide training and internship opportunities- you never know what you might find!

  • Pennylane says:

    I worked for a bank that laid off half of it’s staff, but really I was very lucky. There was a big announcement and then HR had to decide who they wanted to keep on, most of the department was axed except for my team – I was the only one who was let go which I can say really hurt at the time. Then I had to work for another 6 months which was good because I had lots of time to prepare and I got a fairly decent package as well. I went to college part time, and it took me just over a year to find another job. But I still miss that job, the closeness I had with a lot of my co-workers was lovely and I don’t think I will ever have that again.

  • Pennylane says:

    Actually I sitting in work right now, feeling so lonely – I am almost crying at the thought of how happy I was there. :(

  • IceQueen says:

    Thanks Em!

  • Belle - Delle says:

    This might be worth a look at. I’m just finishing up the Webelevate digital skills course but to be honest, I wouldn’t really rate it… So the IT one above might be of some use.

  • Gossipgal says:

    They just quietly dropped me by simply not giving me any more shifts

    Had that happen to me as well. Still mad at that boss for not having the guts to tell me.

  • Edelmc says:

    Belle-delle: u mentioned u worked in the architecture industry and now u are a u mind me asking what type of writing u do. Is it related to architecture? I know how hard it is to get architectural work and am just trying to think of different ways to branch out…

    I have to go to social welfare office and I just hate the atmosphere in there…

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