Creating opportunity at a time of career darkness


We often speak of how our experiences impact upon our careers and it’s usually in a positive way despite their good, bad or ugly nature at the time.

Regardless of the circumstances, we tend to reflect upon these experiences and extract what we have learnt from them much later on, but in the spirit of new beginnings, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to start seeing the silver linings much sooner?

Some of the situations we are exposed to can produce positive reflection despite the circumstances; my time at Woolworths (and ultimate redundancy), instantly springs to mind. Some people allowed the sadness of the situation to consume them, whilst others dusted themselves off and got back up again. At the time, 2008 saw the collapse of Woolworths, MFI (remember them?!), Borders and Zavvi and it seemed each week another household name fell foul to the financial crisis. It is suffice to say that everywhere you looked, it seemed that we were surrounded by negative news.

Fast forward to now and I am thankful for the experience for a number of reasons; it taught me to be commercially aware, to fully understand how a business operates and ultimately it taught me the key skills to become more resilient. Once the initial shock was over, I understood that the circumstances were not due to my actions, but I recognised that I could take the opportunity to broaden my generalist HR knowledge and progress my career, it’s that soul searching that carries you through and positively serves your wellbeing in the long term.  


When we find ourselves in a career slump, we may ask ourselves “what on earth are we doing this for?” and it’s hard to see the benefits to the circumstances that we are experiencing which has a negative impact upon our self-esteem. Last summer, I found myself in another redundancy situation, it took me completely by surprise and despite it being the second time in my HR career, it was a challenge to take the information in and establish a way forward. Redundancy has such a negative association; you worry endlessly about how you will pay the bills and if in fact you will find alternative employment; you begin to question every aspect of your worth as it feels that you no longer have a contribution to make. Reflecting on this experience now, I have discovered that whilst my role was redundant, it doesn’t mean that I am redundant, I still have a long career ahead of me with extensive experience to offer a prospective employer.  

It was when I recognised this and changed my mind set that I decided to really look at my career and decide what my next move would be, and instead of opting for another HR Manager position, I chose to work with a fantastic recruiter (thanks Jules!) to land me the perfect role. It’s when we look at things positively that the magic really starts to happen, and I have never looked back.

I’m not saying it is easy; in times of seeming impossibility, it is easy to default to a state of unhappiness. Instead of thinking you’re worthless, take a step back, look at what you have achieved in your career so far and look at where you want to be. It’s the differences we make to that gap in the middle that influences the direction we take, and be assured, you always have something to offer. As the inspirational Audrey Hepburn said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”    







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