The days when you could land a job after leaving school or university and keep it until you chose to move on are long gone. Even in traditionally ‘safe’ industries like banking or the Civil Service, redundancy has become a fact of life as organisations are forced to change to keep pace with market pressures.
But why me?
Don’t take it personally. Redundancy is a numbers game – reducing overheads and cutting positions which have been judged expendable for a variety of reasons.
You may have seen it coming and take the final redundancy notice as a kind of relief from the uncertainty. However it happens, it’s likely that you will feel angry, betrayed and possibly a bit desperate. These are all perfectly natural emotions but, as ever, it’s how you respond that matters.
When you get the official confirmation, stay cool. Try to focus on the fact that it’s your job that has been made redundant, not you. It doesn’t change the basic situation, but it will help greatly in preserving your self-esteem. It’s not your fault, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, take a fresh look at your life and see how this opportunity can be turned to your advantage.
You may have been wanting to reshape your career for ages, or relocate or adjust your work:life balance. This is the ideal opportunity. One of your rights when facing redundancy is that your employer must give you time off to look for a new job, so use this time wisely to consider all the options.
The redundancy package and what to do with it
First off, find out what’s on offer. Some employers just pay the bare minimum, others offer more attractive packages. Be careful not to jeopardise any offer by storming out before your appointed leaving date, or point blank refusing any alternative position they offer you. Always take your time before making any decision, and discuss it with friends and family.
If you are offered another post which turns out to be totally unsuitable – whether it’s due to location or it’s a role further down the ladder than where you were – you are not obliged to take it.
What to do with the money
Depending on how much you get, you may be able to realise a dream like starting your own business or paying off a big chunk of your mortgage. If you haven’t got any immediate plans, you may fancy blowing some of it on a special treat. But think long and hard before you do, and don’t blow the lot.
It could take you longer than you thought to find another job, and you don’t want to be selling that new sports car in three months’ time just to cover your mortgage payments.
Sign on for job seekers allowance straight away with Job Centre Plus or the benefits office. The financial support they provide is part of the reason you pay your taxes every month and by not registering you’re throwing away free money. They will also be able to provide you with useful job hunting avenues.
Start job hunting using every technique you can think of, including registering on job websites and with recruitment agencies. Read the local and national jobs pages regularly and, if you have a good idea of the companies you want to be working for, approach potential employers directly. Pull in all the contacts and favours you can think of, and network as much as you can.
Explaining redundancy to your next employer
Unless you were made redundant for gross misconduct, it’s nothing to be ashamed of – it happens every day to good people like you. Be honest and direct with your potential employer and put a positive spin on things. Try something like, “It was a knock-back, but at the same time I’m pleased to have been given the opportunity to develop my career in a new direction.”
Show your potential employer how tough and resilient you are. People admire and desire those qualities and it will improve your chances of landing the job you want. Here’s a gem from Henry Ford that sums it up beautifully: “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right”.