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Don’t scream because your job’s over: Five tips on how to cope when you’ve just been retrenched

Kicking and screaming won't help, neither will writing on a blackboard

Kicking and screaming won't help, neither will writing on a blackboard

Your world is crashing down as your line manager tells you that you’ve been made redundant. Much as it may be tempting to let loose an expletive-filled rant and be dragged kicking and screaming out of the building, don’t.

Paul Heng, founder and managing director of NeXT Career Consulting Group Asia, has some advice for these difficult times.

1) Try to keep your emotions in check

Employees may think they are mentally prepared for being laid off but when the news actually hits them, most get emotional. Even though this is easier said than done, try to manage your feelings and don’t let them take over how you present yourself.

People say things they may not mean when they are angry or upset, but you don’t want to burn bridges by mouthing off about your ex-boss. This could hurt your chances of getting hired at your next potential employer when it calls your former firm for a reference check

2) Don’t look back in anger, look ahead

Ask questions about what your severance package will be like and what kind of post-redundancy support the company will provide. If possible, ask for a testimonial from your former boss.

3) Closure? You’re unlikely to get it

Asking “why me?” isn’t a good idea, nor is it very helpful. The firm is unlikely to explain why it is letting you go unless it is a business reason such as an entire unit being shut down. If only a select few have been retrenched, companies will not go into a detailed discussion.

4) Discussing severance

By the time you are told about your redundancy I think about eight out of ten firms would have already decided on how much they will pay out, so severance packages are often non-negotiable. That said, you can try asking for more. In life if you don’t try, you’ll never find out.

I have seen circumstances in which firms have been sympathetic to certain employees. This could be based on compassionate grounds because a staff member has worked at the firm for his or her entire life or is sick.

5) Lastly, a tip for the ones breaking the bad news

Many years ago a US technology company decided to close its Singapore office, but instead of flying managers there to break the bad news, it just sent staff an email. That’s something I don’t advocate. Being told that you’ve been let go should be done in person and preferably by a direct boss. This is someone’s rice bowl that is being broken and it’s the least that can be done.

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