Career Hack: Moving Away From Redundancy to Irreplaceability

Five words that no employee ever wants to hear are “your position has become redundant”. Like a knife stabbed into your heart, you’ve basically been told that all those years of hard work essentially mean nothing to your employer.

Perhaps you’re eligible for a tidy severance + redundancy pay, or you can collect unemployment benefits while you reinvent yourself. That’s not the point.


The position you ‘held’ before the bomb dropped was one you thought would last forever. Yet now, much like a twenty-year-old seemingly fairytale marriage that just ended, you find yourself feeling unwanted – worthless perhaps – without a clue where your career is going!

This can happen to anyone in almost any industry, at any time…

You might get lucky and your employer will have another position, perhaps with some training requirements, waiting for you if you want it.

If that’s your current circumstance, you’ve likely stopped reading at this point. More often than not, inhabitants of a redundant career post are left standing in the unemployment line with feelings of an uncertain future looming overhead.

Who’s to blame?

The important thing is to not blame yourself.

Industries shift, consumer preferences change, companies downsize. Often redundancy is more of a cost-saving measure or the result of technological advancements, rather than being because you weren’t doing your job right. There’s nothing you could have done to save the position from collapsing under the weight of an ever-changing world.

Pondering man

Move on…

The human condition, as found by MSU psychologist, Richard Lucas, during a 2009 study, that the ability to bounce back from unemployment is akin to the feelings suffered during the loss of a loved one due to divorce or death, while also evoking the same downtrodden feelings we have when faced with a severe illness or sudden life-changing injury:

Richard Lucas, a psychologist at Michigan State University, believes not all of life’s slings and arrows are created equal. When Lucas and colleagues analyzed findings from two large studies – one in Britain, the other in Germany – they concluded that, on average, most people adapt quickly to marriage. In other words, within just a couple of years, the peak in the “wellbeing” they experienced around the time of getting married returns to previous levels. People mostly adapt to the sorrows of losing a partner too, though this takes longer – about seven years. However, his study also moved Lucas to speculate that people who get divorced, suffer major injury or illness or become unemployed do not, on average, return to the same level of happiness they enjoyed previously. (source)

What we can learn from Lucas’s study on Hedonic adaptation is that lingering on what’s happened won’t get you anywhere, and will lead you to the same place emotionally as a grieving widow, terminal illness victim, or someone faced with a lifetime of physical paralysis.

Take a quick picture before you move on

Not a real picture, but a mental picture – of how losing your job to a redundant position has made you feel. As mentioned, complacency is one of the factors in your control that led to you being fazed out, replaced by technology, etc. The impact of which could have been minimized by being more proactive about the direction of your career, and ultimately how mobile your skill set is from one position or career, to the next.

Remember the feeling. Let it linger, not fester, in the back of your mind to be there for a gentle reminder the next time you start to feel too comfortable in your current job situation. Always plan for this to happen again, and have your nose to the ground looking for bigger and better opportunities; requiring more effort and well-rounded skills and abilities, to make yourself more indispensible to the workforce.

Plan your next move

There are plenty of trajectories to move in when faced with a job loss due to a redundant position, many of which you’ve already read about, or tried, including:

  • Taking a break, letting everything soak in, decide what it is that really inspires you before finding your next job.
  • Identifying networking events in your industry, to find a suitable replacement employer who doesn’t consider your skill set redundant.
  • Re-education: upgrading your current skills, or choosing a completely different career with entirely different entry requisites than you have currently.
  • Marketing your personal ‘brand’ on social media websites like LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – waiting to be discovered by your next ideal employer.
  • Signing up for a temp or full-time job placement service.
  • Finding the entrepreneur that resides inside you, building your own business, venturing off into the word capitalism to minimize the forces outside your control in the future.

Focused planning

The ultimate key to irreplaceability

Whatever avenue you follow after being let go, don’t linger too long. Maybe you need time to travel, re-educate, or tinker around with projects you’ve put off because of career demands. Your unemployment, or current “unemployability” will still be waiting for you whenever you decide that it’s time to make some money again.

The key to being irreplaceable, currently and in the future is your confidence. Which just happens to be what usually kills our internal fire when we’re let go, leaving us foolishly lingering on career setbacks, rather than moving forward with the self-assured gusto of knowing that we’re still worth something – even if our last employer would disagree!