Redundancy

Redundancy

The blow has been dealt. Ok. One day, you feel sorry for yourself, the next you're ready to take action. Who knows where this road will take you? A new challenge? Let's face it – it's been a while since you've felt this invigorated! So have faith in yourself and project confidence...

What now?  

So you're at home. You allow yourself a lie-in on your first day, but no more. There's work to be done, plans to be made and, most importantly, jobs to be hunted. For there are jobs – lots of them. 

If you've been given a redundancy package, the chances are you already know what to do with your pay-off. Invest, splurge, pay off your debts, it's up to you – but don't make any hasty decisions. 

Redundancy counsellors stress that it's important to consider how the situation affects not just you, but your family and those around you. If you are 'in shock', you may suffer from a general apathy or lack of concentration, as well as insomnia or stress headaches. 

The main thing to bear in mind is that activity is key to feeling good about yourself and your situation. Focus your mind on the future, and apply yourself to job-hunting. Consider your future career – where do you want to be in five, ten years time? 

'The first thing is to remember that old Dad's Army adage – don't panic! It happens to a lot of people and will continue to happen - but there is life after redundancy, and there are a lot of jobs around.

You can start by just standing back and having a look at your overall situation. Firstly, be aware that you are not alone. Start gathering all your thoughts, skills and resources – take a step back, find some space and either write things down or find someone you can talk to – or both.

Many people say redundancy is in some ways a catalyst for long overdue life changes. We're all so busy doing our jobs that we don't ever think about whether we're actually doing what we want. If you can avoid panicking, and can give yourself the time and space, then it's an opportunity, not a problem. You can consider options other than just going back to the same sort of employment, and a lot depends on age and financial position. 

Nobody loves me  

It's natural to feel negative and to worry that employers may be skeptical about hiring someone who has been made redundant. But this is rarely the case. Increasingly, people at all levels have some experience of redundancy – because it's happened to themselves or to people close to them. There's not the stigma attached to redundancy that there might used to have been. You have to focus on the positive aspects of your cv, think about it psychologically.

If you do feel that your employment prospects have been hampered because you've been made redundant, think about it this way: why were you taken on in the first place? Somewhere along the line, someone invested in you because of your value. Just because you have been made redundant, it doesn't follow that you have become any less valuable to others. 

In fact, your immediate availability can work in your favour. Many companies recruit on a temp-to-perm basis these days, which for people already in a permanent position, can be somewhat unfeasible. If you've been made redundant, then unless you're being held to a notice period, which is unusual, you're instantly more marketable. Even for straightforward permanent positions, in today's marketplace, you can be more attractive to prospective employers if there is no chance of a counter-offer. Although, they will still have to compete with all the other employers who want you.

Voluntary redundancy - the options   

Voluntary redundancy can be viewed as a financially rewarding opportunity, but if you are considering it, take care. Voluntary redundancy may be offered when a company is looking to reduce its number of staff and instead of enforcing redundancies offer employees the chance to resign in exchange for a healthy redundancy settlement. This is a more expensive way for a business to cull its numbers, and long serving employees can often take advantage of this. However, if you apply for voluntary redundancy, it is by no means guaranteed, as it is given at the employer's discretion, and if your offer is turned down it might seriously affect the way your employers view you. 

If you are an older member of staff, you might be given the option of early retirement. Although this might initially seems an attractive option, in reality it's a hard decision to make. It's often more difficult for older colleagues than their younger counterparts. At first, they might be attracted to the retirement option, but when it becomes reality, they're not so sure. Do they really want all that time? Can they afford to be retired when they still have children in school? How will missing their last working years affect later life? 

If it's not a considered option, a time which is supposedly reserved for relaxation can become a time of great stress, if it is too premature.

Transferable skills   

In HR circles, transferable skills are much talked about – but what does it mean? 
Essentially, a transferable skill is one which you've previously acquired in one type of job, but which could easily be applied in another environment altogether. So, for instance, if you've been working face-to-face with clients in the field, and have a flair for customer service, it may be that you could equally apply that skill in a call centre or a branch outlet. 

How do I feel? What are my skills? It's a tricky question and one that requires a degree of soul searching. However if you can persevere with it, the results can leave you feeling far more positive about yourself. The first thing to do when evaluating yourself is to abandon any modesty – it's not helpful and it's unlikely that any one else will ever see your list of talents. Having got over this, try to outline the skills you displayed on a day-to-day basis in your job, how you think you benefited the company, and if it helps, why you think they were wrong to let you go. These are your skills, and from here it is merely a case of showing how these skills could be used in future employment. 

If you're part of a mass redundancy or you've been made redundant from a large company, there's usually help made available. But if that's not the case, there are a lot of counsellors around who are trained to sit down with you and help you work out what your skill areas are, and how they can be applied in other directions. Moreover, you have to think freely. Even as far as thinking if you'd like to go and work abroad or in a different industry – you have to consider all options.

If this self-analysis has helped, you should by now have lent direction to your quest, and now is the time to see if there is anyone you know who is in a position to help you move forward. There is often a feeling of guilt when tapping friends for career help or advice but this should be ignored, because everyone knows the fear of losing one's job. Moreover, you are now supremely motivated and they might be in a position to help you! So no excuses, get that address book out and start dialing. 

At interviews  
Another important concern is how to deal with questions about your redundancy that might arise in these interviews. Becoming redundant is not an uncommon phenomenon in today's fast moving business world, and therefore is unlikely to be an issue in the mind of the interviewer. Consequently, when the matter is raised, it is best to explain the matter as simply as possible, outline what the position at your previous employer was, and then move on to focus on what you can do for your potential new boss.