Ask Salt&Light: What should I do now that I’m retrenched?

Gerald Tan // February 1, 2019, 7:00 am


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Dear Salt&Light,

I was recently retrenched from a job I held for more than 10 years. It’s been tough to come to terms with the situation. Do you have any advice?

Steven P, 48, technician in the oil and gas industry

Losing your job suddenly after more than 10 years of working is not something easy to get over.

The initial shock is usually followed by prolonged periods of anger, disappointment, worry and even shame.

Through my experiences, I have seen many retrenched people lose their identity and esteem, even resulting in strained or broken family relations. The truth is – retrenchment hurts.

Moving on from retrenchment requires us to depart from the old mindset of hurt and despair and move towards a new mindset of hope and optimism.

Turning to Christ allows us to do that.

As followers of Christ, we are not to cling on to old desires or habits but to start living in a way that pleases Christ.

When the Jews experienced hardship in their exile, God encouraged them through the prophet Jeremiah, saying: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,  “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

Similarly, the apostle Paul also reminds us: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As followers of Christ, we are not to cling on to old desires or habits but to start living in a way that pleases Christ.

Departing from our old mindsets of hurt and despair means we need to learn to accept our situation, let go of any anger, bitterness and disappointment.

We need to recognise that even good employees get retrenched and it is not personal.

Moving towards a new mindset of hope and optimism means we should view things positively. Look for the silver lining, count your blessings and learn to seek help from people around you to get back on your feet.

There are three practical steps you can take to move on from retrenchment.

Get support quickly

The best way to start moving on from retrenchment is to talk about it to people you trust and have them understand your situation.

During the early stages after the retrenchment, seek spousal, family, friend, church support for a listening ear, advice and practical, emotional and spiritual support.

Reflect and realign

Unemployment can be viewed as a pitstop in our career, to reflect and adjust our direction.

Our reflection should go beyond our work – it should extend to our lifestyle, our relationships and our walk with God.

It is a opportunity to return to Him, put Him first above all things and reflect how we can serve Him through our work using the skills, talents, experiences that we have been endowed with.

Stay Active and Ready

Plan out your finances and create a timeline and daily routine for yourself.

Include a variety of activities such as seeking help from private or public career services, attending free talks, learning new skills, networking and meeting new people, refining your resume, social media profiles, volunteering for a cause you are passionate about or keeping fit.

Have an overall goal in mind and share your plan with people you trust as a form of accountability.

Retrenchments are truly unforgettable moments in our lives. While undoubtedly painful, we can always turn to God and take practical steps to make the best out of our situation.

Support others

If you have a friend who has lost his/her job, you can: 

Pray for them, not pressure them: Pray for family members and friends who are unemployed, that they learn to see God in their situation and plan their steps with God in mind.

Encourage them to stay positive.

The unemployment journey may be long, so motivation and positivity go a long way.

Be sensitive to people who are unemployed. Constantly checking in may lead to them to feel pressured and irritated. They could end up retreating from church.

Connect, Not Confuse: Connect the unemployed with opportunities they may be interested in.

Offer the opportunity as an option for consideration, so they don’t feel pressured to accept.

Avoid giving advice or insisting they accept your advice.

Someone dealing with unemployment may face a situation of having too much conflicting advice from well-meaning friends.

Seek to understand what the unemployed person is going through.

About the author

Gerald Tan

Gerald Tan is a certified career coach with Avodah People Solutions. He works with people going through career transitions and helps them clarify career directions and strategise action steps to navigate their transitions.