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Wellbeing

Published January 28th 2022

Ryan Jones On How To Cope With Redundancy

Nearly 1 in 10 marketers were made redundant in 2020.

If you haven’t experienced it yourself, chances are you know someone who has.

In this episode, we're joined by SEO Specialist Ryan Jones.

In 2020, Ryan was working in a job that wasn't right for him, and was made redundant. Now he has a job he loves, and his own side projects. 

He shares what helped him cope when he was made redundant, and how he manages his time to avoid burnout when life just seems to get getting busier and busier.

Listen to the full podcast below 🎧. Or read on for the transcript 📖

Louise: Do you ever have those days where you can't quite make it out of your pajamas? Or the ones where you mark your entire inbox as “Read”. Even the ones where you find yourself Googling, "How do you DO marketing?" I'm Louise, Content Manager at BuzzSumo – the world's best content marketing tool – and this is Marketing IRL, where we peel away the glossy veneer and chat about the realities of working in marketing. This podcast is an extension of a project we started recently at BuzzSumo called the Wellbeing Hub.

It's a place for you to go for advice, real life experience, and lessons learned by marketers throughout their career. Check it out at buzzsumo.com/wellbeing-hub/.

Today, we're talking about dealing with redundancies and I'm super excited to be joined by Ryan Jones. Hi Ryan. How's it going?

Ryan: Yeah, it's not too bad. Still just prepping for Christmas really. I work in e-commerce so we just have Black Friday, it's a massive time of year for us.

Louise: So for those of you who don’t know, Ryan's an SEO specialist at Land Of Rugs, and that's a UK based e-commerce rug specialist. He's been working in digital since 2015. Earlier this year, he spoke at the world's largest search marketing conference, Brighton SEO, and he's also contributed to BuzzSumo's Wellbeing Hub with some very sage advice on coping with burnout.

Right. So we're talking about a topic that will resonate with many of you and that's redundancies. According to the mental health charity Mind, redundancy can cause huge uncertainty, stress, and anxiety. So, Ryan, can you tell us a bit more about your own experience and what made you want to talk about it today?

Ryan: Yeah. So in terms of my own experience, before I started at Land of Rugs, we had the lockdown in March 2020, and pretty much from that point I was furloughed. There was still little bits of back and forth about changing the job role, or maybe reducing it to part-time, to try and fit into the business's needs. But September 2020 rolled around, and it was a joint decision to eliminate my position, and obviously from that point I was made redundant. It's not a rare scenario. I think a lot of people, whether they're working in marketing or not, went through similar things. I mean, revenue from my last company was, I think, nearly halved, thanks to COVID and the lockdown. Obviously a lot of businesses need to save costs and unfortunately, personnel is almost the first thing to go. In terms of wanting to come on and do the podcast, I want to open the conversation about how being made redundant doesn't have to be the end of anything. I mean, if anything, I've gone on to even bigger and better things since being made redundant. So I want to open up the conversation to not look at it as the end of something, but rather look at it as the start of something new.

Louise: Yeah, definitely. Can you tell us what was the first thing that helped you deal with your redundancy, and the first realization you had that it was actually maybe a positive? Or that you could make a positive out of a situation like that?

Ryan: I decided when I was made redundant to sort of take a week, two weeks, to kind of do nothing almost, and just sit and take everything in because, even though I'd been furloughed, I wasn't really taking time out to sit and evaluate the stuff that was going on in my life personally and professionally.

So I had a two week break where I just didn't do anything at all, really. And then started obviously looking and applying for jobs, and whether you work in marketing or not, you need to be able to market yourself, especially with so many more people being made redundant.

So, if you were going into an interview where, previously to COVID, you would be maybe interviewing with four or five other people, that could easily stretch to 10, 20, 30 people who are going for the same position. So it was really taking time out to sit and look at my resume. I mean my resume is quite weird, in the sense that for the last two years prior to COVID I worked two jobs simultaneously. So I was SEO at an agency, but I also worked a sales role as well at one of the agency's clients. It was kind of a weird setup. So to try and write that down on a resume is a bit strange, especially when you're going for SEO roles, and you have to explain why a lot of your job was also sales rather than an SEO.

So, I had to sit down and tell a story around that, about how my sales experience has helped with my SEO and that kind of thing. And really just make sure my resume tells a story of me rather than someone who is half-assed, if you like, or half in SEO and half in sales.

Louise: Yeah. So it ended up being an opportunity for you to sort of take stock and think about what the next steps were for you, and what direction you wanted to go in.

Ryan: For sure. It was really just about making a decision of “Right. Is SEO where I want to be? Or do I really want to pursue another sales role? I don't really want to sit in both camps anymore.” And SEO was obviously the right choice for the kind of character that I am. And that decision was made pretty quickly after that two week stint of not doing anything. And from there, it was pretty much just applying to SEO roles.

Louise: Was there anything that you would pass on as sage advice or tips to anyone else who was in the situation where they'd been made redundant?

Ryan: Yeah, so I mean, bar what I said first about looking at it as the start of something, rather than the end of something, obviously there's a lot of stress that comes with it. I live at home, but I still have a car to pay for, I still have bills to pay. So the first step is to kind of eliminate that panic almost and stop needlessly applying to everything. Because I found when I was applying for new roles, I had a lot more success at getting to interview stages and getting further in the interview process when I was applying for jobs that I really cared about. Because that comes across in interviews, even over zoom, even if you're doing virtual interviews. If you're really passionate about something, especially in SEO, then you can generally make it work. It's all well and good for me to kind of sit here and explain how I make websites rank higher in search results. But if it's, if it's a company that I don't really care about, then it comes across that way, and hiring managers can definitely tell that. So you've got to link that in with your story, and where you want to get to with your career, and link that into the job roles that you're going for.

Like, when I was working agency side, I was always happiest working on the smaller e-commerce clients, because I mean, when you can see how ranking changes affect a business that deeply and how, when revenue increases, even if it's only a small amount, how happy that makes everyone. That makes me feel happy.

And therefore, that makes me want to do even better. So a small e-commerce company is where I really wanted to go. And that was when I really started to hone in on applying to those sorts of roles.

Louise: I might be preempting what you’re about to say, but I know when I've landed a new job, I kind of think to myself, why didn't I do this sooner? Why didn't I put myself in that potentially riskier situation to apply for another job? Because in previous companies I've been there for years and probably just been a bit afraid of the unknown. And I just wondered if that's something that you experienced when you were made redundant. Is that something that you found?

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I started at Land of Rugs in December 2020, and within the first two weeks, I was kind of sat there, like – why didn't I apply to these kinds of roles before? Because I could already tell I was much happier in this role, than the roles I'd been doing previously. But I think we all have that sort of situation where you feel like you could be doing better things, or maybe you want to go for a pay rise or something like that, or whatever your motivation for moving on is. I think everyone can be stuck in that kind of cycle of, well, what happens if I apply, and then I hand my notice in, and then the job offer falls through – then I'm kind of left in limbo?

So, I think everyone can be struck by that fear. But I think the kind of conversation I want to open up is: is it better to be afraid for a short period of time, and then go on to bigger and better and happier things? For me a personal example is speaking at Brighton SEO. That’s the kind of thing I want to take to the next level.

And I wouldn't have had that opportunity in previous roles. So the kind of three months of constant stress and verging on panic almost, of trying to find a role that pales to insignificance now because I'm much happier where I am. I think that the conversation people need to have with themselves is, is the short-term worry worth it in the long term? Or do you really just want to stick where you are for the minute?

And then obviously if you've been made redundant as well, it's easy to get wrapped up in that panic. But I think the important thing is to just stay calm, realize, especially in SEO and marketing, that you will find another role.

Companies, especially nowadays – maybe when the pandemic first hit, it was a bit different – but now they really realize that they need to start investing in their marketing.

So you're never short of a job role as a marketer. If you are unhappy where you are, or if you are in a situation where you've been made redundant, don't fret about it because a job role will come and bigger and better things will come.

Louise: Yeah, it's interesting what you said a minute ago about when you applied to speak at Brighton SEO. That made me think with the upheaval of redundancy, and the fact it was a risky situation. Do you think that's making you more open to taking risks? And put yourself out there more than perhaps you would have done if you hadn't been made redundant?

Ryan: Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean I went to my first Brighton SEO in 2017, 2018. And I was listening to all these amazing speakers talk and thinking, yeah I really want to be able to do that someday. Yeah. Public speaking is probably the number one thing I'm afraid of in life.

And then after being afraid of obviously finding a new job role, I then realized that if I can go three months without a wage and still end up really happy, and in a job role that's safe and secure, in a company that’s growing well.

If I can get through that stage of not having a wage for three months, and relying on savings and still paying all my bills, then I can definitely manage speaking in a room full of 70 to 100 people. If I can manage three months of pure panic, I can definitely manage that for 20 minutes.

So it's definitely made me more open to applying to more speaking roles in the future, and hopefully in bigger rooms of people speaking about broader topics as well as my talk, which was about growing your in-house career.

Louise: If you were to sum up everything that you've just said, and you had to give one tip to somebody who was going through redundancy at the moment, or one bit of advice, what would it be?

Ryan: I think my biggest piece of advice would be don't let the fear in.

I mean, it seems very easy to say as someone who isn't redundant anymore, but it definitely hit me and you can definitely start to spiral. And then once that spiral hits, you start applying to anything, and you think, I'll just get something temporary now, and then I'll keep applying.

But then if you find another job, even if it's supposedly a temporary job, it then becomes a long process to get back to what you really want to be doing. It becomes a lot more difficult. So try not to let that cycle of fear hit you, and just realize that something will come along. Even if it seems very far off, it definitely will come along and then you'll be much, much happier.

Louise: Yep. Totally agree. Ryan, thank you so much for joining me.

Ryan: No problem.

Louise: And if we wanted to find you online, where can we go or how would we get in touch?

Ryan: Yeah, so the best place to find me on is on Twitter @RyanJonesSEO. You can also find me on LinkedIn and ryan@landofrugs.com is my email. I'm always happy to chat about anything SEO or career related. So hit me up there.

Thanks for listening to Marketing IRL, brought to you by BuzzSumo. You can share your experiences about redundancy with us on Twitter. Just tweet @BuzzSumo. And you can find us on our website buzzsumo.com. Bye!

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