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How to show retrenchment who is boss

Retrenchment. Surely the word alone is enough to strike fear into anyone's heart? Let me set the scene. Rumours start spreading at the office about cut backs and cost cutting. Much conversation and speculation around the water cooler. The HR manager looks like he hasn't slept in weeks and your boss is avoiding you. Finally a staff meeting and the official announcement: the company needs to save money and retrenchments are the only option.

At one stage or another most of us are going to have to face retrenchment. Managing your career and surviving in a dog-eat-dog world is not about avoiding retrenchment but about making sure that you have the skills, resources and know-how to survive it. Read on to find out how.

1. Get protected
Some insurance companies and banks offer salary and retrenchment protection policies that will pay out for a certain period of time if you are ever retrenched, supplementing the pay-out you get from your company and tiding you over until you find another job.

Another product available to you is a credit protection policy, which will help you service your debt in case of retrenchment or even illness and disability, depending on the policy.

It is certainly worth investigating the various options available to you but remember that nothing beats the protection of savings! To our next point....

2. Emergency fund
Experts advise that you have at least 6 months worth of living expenses saved for a rainy day. While this might seem like an impossible number remember that even just one month's worth will make a difference. Put a set amount into your emergency fund every month until you have reached your target.

3. Skill up
We should all have career goals to work towards: a more senior position, a job with a blue-chip company or an outstanding achievement in your chosen field. You should also constantly strive to skill up, be it with a short course, a diploma or even a degree. Stay up to date with news and developments in your chosen field and make sure that you have, or are working towards acquiring, the latest skills and knowledge. Skilling up is about setting your CV apart from the rest and making sure that you are the most desirable candidate for the job.

4. Sell yourself and network!  
Attend workshops, seminars and events to network and stay in touch with your peers. Follow and participate in industry or professional groups online and become active on LinkedIn. You could even consider contributing to relevant journals or blogs and establishing yourself as a subject matter expert. Get your name out there and get to know the right people their help might be invaluable if you ever need to find a job.

Top tips:

  1. Do not under any circumstances spend the pension money you get from your employer. Rather reinvest the money immediately and save it for your golden years.
  2. Keep your CV and online profiles up to date.
  3. Subscribe to job alerts  - keep an eye on what your peers are earning and which companies are hiring

Final word
If you feel that your company is in trouble or heading towards a dead-end, start looking for a job rather than waiting for the axe to start swinging. Be sensible and proactive and stay one step ahead of your HR manager!  

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