Three People Share The Positive Side Of Being Fired
Ginger, Tina and Natasha have never met, but all have one fundamental life event in common: getting fired or pushed from their job. All used the experience to fuel their future plans and to take risks they hadn’t envisioned from the safe cocoon of a dependable office job & pay cheque.
Just over half of all Australians are actually happy in their job, according to a survey conducted last year by Survey Sampling International. The study found that workers battled a growing sense of vulnerability arising from increased casualisation of roles, shorter contracts, and the expectation that they’ll be available on their phones, email and social media 24 hours a day.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that Australia has one of the highest rates of redundancies in developed nations. The report found that while 70% of workers found another job within a year, the majority of them were paid less in their new role.
See it as a new start
But getting fired, or being made redundant can be the catalyst for a positive change in career and lifestyle. For the following subjects, from tech entrepreneurs to freelance writers and presenters, the initial devastation of losing their roles lead to exciting, diverse opportunities.
Ginger Gorman is an award-winning freelance journalist in the field of social justice. After 13 years as a producer and presenter at the ABC, she was made redundant when budget cuts forced staff to compete with long-term colleagues and friends to keep their jobs.
“Despite feeling pretty sick about it, I wrote to my bosses and said: “Pick me.” That made it easy for management – they accepted my proposal and that’s how I became redundant in early 2015,” says Gorman.
“Being made redundant was like being thrown on the garbage heap,” she recalls. “The feeling didn’t last long though, mainly because I went to an amazing career coach.”
With the support and advice of her coach, as well as seeking mentors and friends in the freelance community, Gorman established a steady stream of freelance opportunities, writing for News.com.au as well as establishing media-coaching business Media Bootcamp.
“Frankly, if your workplace doesn’t value your talents and skills, they don’t deserve you,” Gorman states. “This is your chance to stop asking “what if” and make it happen.”
Use it as a launching pad
From the urban jungle to the wild and humid Balinese jungle, Tina May used the devastating experience of being booted from her own co-founded new startup by her business partner to change her modus operandi.
“I co-founded a tech startup, only to be kicked out by my business partner 8 months in and just a few weeks prior to the launch. I got zero salary or compensation for my time,” May recalls. “I tried to fight it in court but I realised my time was better spent starting over. Between bouts of hysterical tears on the day he kicked me out, I decided to prove to him, the world, and most of all myself, that I had what it takes so I set out to launch a business within a month.”
True to her goal, May launched the Institute of Code with her best friend 30 days later. May describes the business as “an innovative education model where we take people away from the distractions of everyday life to an immersive learning environment in Bali. Industry experts teach people in-demand, relevant digital skills.”
Since the launch 2.5 years ago, Institute of Code has hosted over 20 bootcamps (10 days of web development, digital marketing and social media education), welcoming over 250 students from almost every continent in the world.
“The memory of being ‘fired’ fuels my passion to empower people to create a life they are passionate about,” May says.
Prove your worth
Natasha Stewart had taken time off for maternity leave. With a work history in promotion and design, she then joined a real estate firm in the hopes it would be a role she could manage as a new mum.
“My daughter had been really unwell. I had to take time off to look after her while she was sick,” Stewart explains. “When I returned to the office, I was taken into a meeting room by my manager and I immediately sensed something was off. I actually recorded the conversation, fortunately, because what unfolded was grounds for unfair dismissal.”
Angry and shaken, Stewart refused to dwell on her dismissal and instead launched her own e-commerce babywear business, worked as a freelance graphic designer and web developer and became determined not to rely on a single employer to determine her working life.
“I was learning what my strengths were, and understanding how I could package them up to help other mums like me, who wanted to have a flexible work life around their role raising kids,” Natasha says.
A few years after her dismissal from the real estate firm, Stewart founded Business Jump, which enables mothers to work flexible hours as long as they achieve their business goals on time and to the quality expected.
“For anyone who has experienced the trauma of being made redundant or being fired, I would say ‘hold out hope’. This is not the end, but the beginning of something new so take the time to reassess your options, reflect on your strengths and consider a change of direction. Although difficult at the time, for many of the people I’ve met and spoken to about being fired or made redundant, it has turned out to be the beginning of something better.”
Cat Woods is a writer, editor and blogger in Melbourne. She is also a yoga, barre and pilates instructor with a passion for fitness, lipstick, ’90s electroclash and yoga pants.