Some of Australia’s biggest employers have announced major job losses in the past two years, with the automotive, media and finance sectors among the hardest hit.

As the prices of gold, nickel and iron ore continue to fall, and China’s economy fluctuates, WA’s mining sector — already forced to shed hundreds of jobs — is expected to announce more cuts, while further job losses are anticipated in the public sector.

Whether or not the writing is on the wall, redundancies can create a sense of shock and bewilderment, along with a fear of what the future holds. But, after a short period of mourning, people need to spring back into action, and view it as an opportunity, according to employment experts.

Career coach Kate Southam said most people would be made redundant at least once, and probably twice, in their working life and it was important to remember that redundancies were usually caused by forces beyond any worker’s control.

“It’s really hard not to take a decision personally, ” Ms Southam said. “But most of the time, redundancies are made for business reasons — it might be that the company you worked for has experienced a merger and you can’t have two people doing the same role. Whatever the reason, try not to personalise things — it wasn’t about you not doing well, it was more about your industry not doing well, or a reflection of general economic conditions. The role was made redundant, not you.”

Group director of Ranstad Australia Steve Shepherd said the sooner an employee was able to “get back on the horse” the better, and taking a temporary or contract role meant people could rebuild confidence while formulating a more long-term plan.

“People should be looking at their skills and doing what they can to update those to stay relevant, ” Mr Shepherd said. “They should also be seeing this time as an opportunity to change tack — just because you’ve been in one role for many years, it doesn’t mean you can’t transfer those skills over to another role or another industry.

“It’s also important to use your existing networks in looking for new opportunities. Update professional profiles on LinkedIn and use other social media platforms such as Facebook to get the word out there that you’re looking for work.”

Ms Southam said workers should not be afraid to change sectors, particularly if theirs was still struggling. “Outside of the health, property and construction sectors, there’s a lot of uncertainty, so redundancies can hit at any time. Working on a set of skills that would make you attractive to most employers is the key.”

People in more senior roles would take longer to find work, so sitting down with a spouse and talking about how finances would be managed was crucial, she said.

“There will be a certain level of anxiety for partners, particularly if the job was well paid, but good communication will help calm their fears, ” Ms Southam said. “It’s also a good idea to tell others how they can help in your job search and be very specific about what you’re looking for.”

People should not jump at the first position offered if their skills did not meet the requirements of the job but they should consider taking a pay cut or doing a slightly less senior role if it lead to solid, long-term employment.

Mr Shepherd said the retail, hospitality, food services and personal-care industries were experiencing jobs growth and were an ideal starting point for those looking to transfer their skills to another industry.


© The West Australian

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