From time to time a career can take a downward turn, through circumstances beyond our control, such as being retrenched or ‘let go’ due to a merger or the business closing down. A person can feel a sense of loss as their world is turned upside down. There is also the loss of connectivity with colleagues and friends.
I know the feeling well as I was retrenched twice within a 12 month period. Initially a small manufacturing company decided to move its operations to Victoria, resulting in the SA operations closing its doors with the loss of over 80 positions, from both the ‘shop floor’ and administration division. Due to my experience within the manufacturing sector, I quickly secured another position with a steel manufacturing business. Some months later this business was taken over by a larger conglomerate who already had their quota of support staff, so again I went through the process of being retrenched.
Quite an amazing set of circumstances, and certainly nothing I could have had an influence on the outcome. This was in the early 90s, when high level administrative positions were like ‘hen’s teeth’, almost unobtainable, as movement in those positions was virtually non-existent. The alternative was to undertake temporary contract / assignments working through Agencies, which is the career path I took for the next 5 years. During that time I grew exponentially both personally and professionally. In all that time I was never out of work and worked with some amazing people within a variety of businesses, both in the public and private arena.
One particular contract was for a period of twelve months, covering for someone on maternity leave. The role was Secretary to the General Manager in an insurance company. From the very first day I knew this was the type of role I was going to enjoy. Firstly, I am an organiser – I can’t help myself, I think I must have been born that way; and secondly, I enjoy helping people – a terrific attribute for a secretary. I had found my calling. Now I could start to design the career that I had always aspired to, but didn’t know was possible.
During that period of my career I discovered that there was a professional organisation that represented secretaries, it was an exciting discovery. Initially known as IPSA, Institute of Professional Secretaries Australia, renamed to incorporate all administrative staff, to AIOP – the Australian Institute of Office Professionals. I joined in 1992 and am still a member to this day.
My reason for relating this story is to highlight that although situations change throughout our careers, the adage that when one door closes another opens is certainly the philosophy that I embody. This positive train of thought means that opportunities will present themselves when you least expect them.
Joining a professional organisation such as AIOP will also open chains of communication you never thought possible. Looking outside the square can reap dividends for those of you willing to put your toe in the water and see what is possible. For details visit their website
Being retrenched or ‘let go’ is not the end of the world, even though upsetting at the time. As and when something like this happens, take a deep breath, and then take the next step forward. Check out the Agencies and take whatever they have to offer, as often short term contracts can turn into full time permanent employment. Being in the right place at the right time, is never more pertinent.
If you would like to chat about your career progression, please get in touch.