When Mel Barnes' bosses at what was then the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs suggested a voluntary redundancy, the 50-year-old saw it as an opportunity to get out of a difficult period in her career.
After all, she figured, there had always been plenty of contracting work around the capital for level six public servants who knew what they were doing.
But time has proved Ms Barnes wrong.
The part-time artist from Bonython has not worked in the public service since her last temporary contract ran out in November, five months after she took her golden handshake from the department, one of about 2600 public servants who took redundancy in 2012-13.
"I was having a difficult time there … and one of the supervisors asked me if I had considered [redundancy]," Ms Barnes said.
"When she first offered it, I thought 'Oh, my god, no way', but then I thought it could be really handy, that it could help me out and I could just go back to contracting.
"Then, all of a sudden, the contracts dried up and, although my contracts got extended a few times, the instructions from the new government was no more contracts,'' Ms Barnes said.
Four months later, the search for work is making her increasingly anxious.
"It's bizarre because I've contracted on and off over the years and Canberra's always been a place where there's work, never been a problem finding a job,
"When I'm with an agency they usually send me out on a short-term contract here or there, just to keep me going.
"But there has been nothing.
"All the jobs I'm applying for, there are so many people applying. And when I ask for some feedback, they're telling me not to take it personally, 250 people were sent forward for that job.''
Recruitment companies are telling applicants that 300 hopefuls are going for a single job, in some instances.
Ms Barnes has found the picture beyond the public sector to be bleak, too.
"I've applied for jobs at level four and five, I've applied for jobs at supermarkets," she said of her hunt for work.
. "I'm too young to retire, I've got a good 10 or 15 years of work left in me so it's a tricky situation."
Unlike other some jobless public servants, Ms Barnes has family ties keeping her in the capital, although she has considered looking for jobs in Sydney and Melbourne.
"I've recently become a grandmother and I just don't think I can tear myself away from my beautiful granddaughter," she said.
As the hunt goes on, efforts to sell her paintings have been tough, as discretionary spending has been taking a hit in Canberra.
Her advice to anyone contemplating a redundancy package is to think carefully.
"If you're considering taking a VR, don't expect there are going to be any more jobs for while," she said.