For most people, getting made redundant is genuinely shocking.
However, before starting anything new or taking any action, here are some ideas and our 8 step guide that could be very helpful in such a situation:
1. Take stock
At such a time raw emotions can be laid bare. It’s therefore important not to say or do anything in the dialogue with your now former firm (or indeed your professional network) which can’t be unsaid or unravelled. Rather, let those emotions run over. Sit down and calmly start to piece together some sort of a plan.
2. Utilise the opportunity to consider your options
Take some time to take a step back and consider what is going on in your industry and sector, as well as other industries and sectors. You may find that other sectors are likely to have a more buoyant future. This is the perfect time for you to reassess your career goals and if necessary retrain. Technological change is a major cause of redundancy as businesses digitise and automate functions. If you take the time to intelligently upgrade and adapt your skill set to match future business needs, you’ll give yourself a greater chance to ride the fluctuations of the employment market. Aside from effectively monetising your skill set, you now, most importantly, have the opportunity to find a job you really want to do, from which you will gain fulfilment.
3. Deal with your emotions
A lot of people feel angry and resentful after being made redundant. This is wholly understandable. You may feel you’ve been treated unfairly. You may be disappointed with your severance package. You may begin to doubt your worth. This is not the frame of mind with which to go about finding a new position or contacting your professional network. Taking a few weeks out from the job market will therefore also give you time to process the difficult situation that you have faced. The wounds will start to heal, and you’ll gradually be able to look at events from a more rational perspective and find some kind of closure. Employers won’t risk employing someone with unresolved issues.
4. Get your story straight
Create a logical explanation for your redundancy which future employers will find reassuring. It’s important that you take some time to deal with your emotions before attempting an objective analysis of the events. Otherwise you’ll be at risk of presenting the news in a way which you may later come to regret. Your explanation needs to be truthful. But it also needs to be detached. De-emphasise details, events and emotions which may be a cause of concern to employers. For example, do not include any criticism of your previous firm or colleagues, even if you believe you were treated unfairly. It’s okay to say you were disappointed at being let go, but ultimately the separation must be portrayed in a positive light. Emphasise the positive impact that you had on the business, the skills and experiences you gained, and how they may be of value to a future employer.
5. Make the best use of your professional network
Spend your resources wisely. Your time and money is precious. But most precious of all is the goodwill you’ll discover within your professional network. It’s important not to burn up this goodwill in seeking sympathy, or as an outlet for your anger and frustrations, however tempting this may be. Instead, only approach your network when you have clarified in your mind exactly what it is you are looking for in your next job. Once you have done this, talk to your contacts and utilise their goodwill with a precise purpose, such as securing access to decision makers or referrals for further contacts. Remember, networks function by reciprocation – so be proactive in helping others.
6. Find a ‘study buddy’
Anybody who has experienced being made redundant knows that the subsequent job search can be a bleak and disheartening experience. We would therefore recommend that you find a ‘study buddy’ – ideally, someone who is in the same situation as you, (perhaps from the same area of business). The role of a study buddy is to provide mutual support, accountability and fresh thinking. It is somebody whose judgement you trust and with whom you can join forces to help each other. Your study buddy’s unique relationship with you allows him/her to provide a different kind of support to that received from family and friends.
Additionally, you may find that your company provides you with a career coach, or you may choose to find your own professional career coach. A coach is certainly a worthwhile investment if they are able to help you accelerate the process of finding a job that you really want. A good coach will test your assumptions and be a supporter and a cheerleader. They will hold you to account and help to restore your confidence which may have been dented. They also provide an outside perspective of your situation, the options available to you, and the best strategies to achieve your goals. It’s difficult to paint the chair you’re sitting on.
7. Update your LinkedIn profile
Only do this once you’re sure of what you’re looking for in your next role. In this way, you’ll be able to ensure the content changes you make will be attractive and relevant to the specific industry, sector or role you’ll be looking to enter. To increase your chances of catching the eye of a recruiter or HR department, add a “Looking for opportunities” status. You may wish to make this more personalised by referring to your skills, experience or desired role. However, keep it snappy. For example, “Experienced equity analyst seeking new opportunities”. I personally know two people who have been hired in just this way, so don’t underestimate LinkedIn’s potential! Remember, LinkedIn is a professional network so the same rules apply to your redundancy narrative.
8. Update your CV
Update your CV once you have taken a step back, considered your options and decided exactly what it is you’re looking for in your next role. Emphasise the value you can bring to any organisation. If you’ve been made redundant it’s important not to leave a gap because employers will suspect you have something to hide. If you are currently unemployed, include the end date of your last job. However, your CV is not the place to go into a detailed explanation of your redundancy. If you’re making a significant career change, you should include a Career Objective section under your Personal Profile but you’re not obliged to explain your redundancy here. It may suit your situation to broach the subject in your cover letter. Alternatively, you may decide to wait until interview – this perfectly reasonable.
If you do decide to mention your redundancy in your CV and/or cover letter, you must pre-empt that you will almost certainly be asked for further details when you’re invited to interview. The outline that you give in your CV and cover letter must be in line with a more detailed narrative you may need to recount at a later date. Therefore, prepare the complete story when writing your CV and cover letter to ensure you’re not caught out at a later point in the application process.
Experience prouves that many people when they look back on the time they were made redundant, realise that it was in fact the start of something very positive.