CASE STUDY: David - Professional made redundant
David* is a 50-year-old man with a wife and teenage child. He was made redundant a few months ago and is finding it difficult to find a new role. As a result, he has taken a knock to his confidence and is worried he won’t be able to find a new role at his age, as a “pale, stale, male”.
This is his story when we first started working together.
David had worked in finance for his entire career and had thought that he would be in the same role until retirement. He had worked his way up the career ladder and had enjoyed a successful career so far.
He was made redundant due to a restructuring and cost-cutting initiative, which he didn’t see coming, and he was left reeling having been a loyal and committed employee of the company for the past 8 years.
He was feeling concerned about his financial commitments with his son having just started university and he and his wife were used to certain luxuries, such as nice holidays, a nice home and he also had the responsibility of partly funding his parents’ care home fees.
He hadn’t had to interview for a role for many years, having made his more recent career moves internally, or via contacts who knew him.
David had prided himself on his successful career and his work defined who he was, so when he was made redundant, he felt like he had lost his identity. He had begun to question who he was, now that he didn’t have a job title to define him. He was feeling a bit lost and dejected and also shocked and hurt that his role had ended so suddenly, especially given how much time, energy and effort he had put in, as well as the sacrifices he had made over the years.
He missed having a sense of purpose as well as the sense of community and belonging, not to mention the good relationships he enjoyed with his team.
He had also lost some confidence, as he was finding it hard to find a new role. The job market had changed a lot since he was last looking and he didn’t know the best way of navigating it. For his previous role, he had been headhunted and had secured his other roles relatively easily through word of mouth. Furthermore, he had the catch-22 situation of being out of work which seemed to make it harder to find work. He was beginning to worry that his redundancy pay-out would be spent before he was able to secure a new role, that he would be forced to take a role he didn’t really want, or that would not take his career in the direction he wanted to go in.
At the same time, he was considering the idea of moving industry sectors and doing something different but wasn’t sure what transferable skills he had, what this new role and / or industry sector could be and how this might impact his earning potential.
On the positive side of things, he did want to redress the balance of his work and home life, as he had always worked long hours and travelled a lot. He was keen to have more flexibility around his working hours and to work from home more often.
His biggest concern was how his age was viewed in the current marketplace. He had noticed that there appeared to be some discrimination towards the over 50’s and was concerned about the competition from younger candidates.
In summary, he was lacking confidence and feeling frustrated and worried; he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, the best way to go about finding a role and how to get himself into the right mindset in order to be successful in doing so.
David and I worked together for a series of six coaching sessions. This is his story nine months later in his own words.
I had previously had some executive coaching at work a number of years ago and found it to be helpful, so when my wife suggested that I get some career coaching I figured that I didn’t really have anything to lose. I realised that I really did need the support and guidance from an expert.
I had hit an all-time low when I met with Marie for the first time. I had lost my confidence and wasn’t really sure which direction to go in. And I was concerned that if I didn’t find a role soon, then it would be impossible to get back into employment again.
With great expertise, Marie helped me to look at everything I had to offer to a potential employer, and in the process helped me to re-gain my confidence and realise that I did have a lot of strengths, skills, knowledge and experience, some of which I had been unaware of. This also enabled me to put together a clear and succinct message to deliver when networking and talking to potential employers. However, the most important outcome was that she helped me turn my mindset around from one of negativity to a much more positive and confident way of thinking and acting. This in turn improved my motivation to get into action and to have the self-belief to keep going, despite the many rejections I received.
I learnt so much about myself during the coaching sessions and found that the time flew by. Marie’s enthusiasm and positivity combined with her realism meant that I came out of each session with renewed energy and plenty of interesting ideas and thoughts to go away and reflect upon. I found that I really enjoyed the sessions and with encouragement from Marie to be open-minded and curious, I was able to be playful in our brainstorming together which led to some creative and innovative ideas that would otherwise have been impossible to have come up with.
With her questioning and probing into what makes me who I am, Marie helped me to re-evaluate what was important to me in life; what I wanted and what my priorities were. I was able to wipe the slate clean and start again from scratch. As a result of this, I came to the conclusion to leave the City and to find a role closer to home in a different sector. Although I still wanted to use my financial skills and experience, I wanted a role that would enable me to enjoy a better work / life balance and to work closer to home. During one of our sessions I had a eureka moment where I had the idea of becoming a school bursar. This ticked all the boxes of what was important to me, as well as being a role that I believe to be meaningful and rewarding and which also matched my skills.
It took me several more months to find a new role, but I now love what I do. In fact, on reflection, I am so glad that I was made redundant as it was a real wake-up call and forced me to make some big changes that have ultimately led to a much happier and more enjoyable way of life. I am definitely happier in my new role than in any previous role I’ve ever had. I don’t earn as much as I did, but the extra time I now have, as well as the work satisfaction more than make up for this. I don’t have all the expenses of commuting to the City and have made adjustments in our outgoings so that the difference in salary doesn’t matter; my life is far richer in other ways.
In fact, when I speak to former colleagues who are still working at my previous organisation, I am so glad I am not there anymore. Many of them are frustrated and unhappy, so even though it didn’t feel like it at the time, I reckon I pulled the lucky straw.
I know that I would never have come to these realisations without Marie’s coaching and would not be where I am now. I am incredibly grateful to her compassionate yet determined and committed approach to helping me gain both the awareness and mindset to know what I wanted and to help me get there.
*Name changed to protect identity