change coming

I’ve Lost My Job Four Times

David James Bailey shares how he picked himself up and moved forwards…

Of the nine permanent jobs I have had, I have lost two of them to redundancy and two to company failure.  A large factor in this is because I chose to work in small, agile companies, in the IT sector. Whilst this work is exciting and allows me to make real change in short time periods, these companies are more risk-taking and suffer more from economic downturns than larger organisations, so they typically hire and fire more readily. In addition, my role (documentation, information, knowledge management) can be seen as an overhead in harsh economic climates, so these types of role can be sacrificed without immediate sales impact.

My first time

My first time was a company failure – they literally ran out of money and could not pay us. I was in my early 20s and had no idea this kind of thing could happen. This was also in the midst of the recession of the early 1990s, so adding on the pressure. 

But it taught me that even this change is an opportunity. I found a better job in a matter of weeks, and the experience helped bolster my confidence in myself and my skills. No one likes losing their job, but the attitude I have now is far more future-focused and positive because of my experiences.

I feel like I am a bit of an old hand at this now, and this is what I’ve learned:

Don’t fear change, at any stage in your career. Having had lots of jobs is not a failure; almost every job change has involved a better move for me, in terms of job satisfaction, remuneration, and career progression. For example, in a 30-year career, after nine jobs, I’m now earning about nine times my original salary. 

Similarly, don’t have a fear-driven loyalty to any company. You may have heard the saying “You are killing yourself for for a job that would replace you within a week if you dropped dead.” It’s extreme, but there’s some truth in it. No-one is irreplaceable, and if you are at least emotionally prepared for change, it makes the transition much easier. A job is not a marriage, it’s a casual friendship.

Take practical steps to match your emotional progress. Keep aware of jobs out there (for example, in LinkedIn), keep your CV current, and if you see an opportunity you like, apply for it. You have nothing to lose, and you will gain valuable experience in applying. And of course, it’s far easier to apply for a new job when you’re currently in a job.

As for the interviews themselves…

  • We’re all going through difficult times in the current world economic situation, so sadly, you have a lot of company in losing your job. So if asked (you may not be), simply say that the company is suffering and going through a restructure, but that you parted on amicable terms and you hope they’ll do well in the future. And of course, if it’s not asked, don’t bring it up yourself 
  • Do not, ever, slate any previous company you worked for, no matter how upset you feel about the situation. It’s unprofessional and it makes you less employable by giving negative impressions during an interview
  • As a more general point, most people conducting interviews are not professional interviewers – they make their initial judgement on you very quickly based on initial impressions and instinct, rather than the more detailed questions and answers. So you should always smile, look relaxed, and be happy with small talk for a few minutes. It gives the impression of confidence, and it puts both of you at ease from the start point.



Treat the job-searching activity as your full-time job: spend several hours time on it each day. This gives your time structure, it gives you a purpose, and it means you get better at it the more you do it.

It’s important to play the numbers game. The worst thing you can do is to apply for a single job, pour your heart and soul into the application, then sit back and wait to hear from it. Apply for 10 jobs a day – more if you can. If you apply for 50 jobs in a week, you’re likely to get interviews for several of them, and possibly a job offer. In one week.

Don’t ever be afraid to have too many job offers, in the same way you should not be afraid to have too much money, or too many Olympic medals!

David’s LinkedIn profile is David has worked in the IT sector for 30 years, working in information areas including technical writing, training, marketing material and customer help.