The 13 things you must do when made redundant

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Barron Williams

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I recently read an article on where they were speaking to a good friend from my network about his recent experience of being made redundant. 

The conversation centred around some of the common redundancy mistakes he made after receiving the R word.

A former regional MD of a major newspaper group, his redundancy, like it does for many of us, stung. And as he states in the interview:

“When I was heading up a restructuring programme, I would always say that this isn’t a personal decision, it’s a professional decision, a business decision, but then one day somebody sat in front of me and said those words, and you know what? It was personal, it did feel personal!”

He was left feeling angry and humiliated and asking the question “Why me? Why is this happening to me?”. 

By his own admission he handled it badly and, as many of us do, he made many of the classic mistakes. 

Until you find yourself in that situation, it is difficult to know how you’ll react.

However, what he was saying got me thinking, what are some of the common mistakes we make in this situation? 

How can we avoid them if it does happen and what are the things we should be doing?

The article inspired me to think about this in a little more detail… 

Highlight the things we need to do when we hear the R word.

And we are speaking from experience here. I, like many, have been made redundant. 

In the past it was far less common but the days of staying with the same organisation until you get a gold watch are long gone. 

We operate in a more transient job market, loyalty is a distant second to bottom line for employers and, as an employee, you must look after number one.

In fact, in many ways redundancy should be viewed as an accepted part of most senior exec careers. 

At this level, you gain those scars, the experience makes us better leaders, and better equipped to deal with the tough times.

The threat of being made redundant looms for many

With the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic yet to hit, more redundancies are inevitable over the coming months. 

According to the ONS:

“There are notable indications of the negative impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic showing through falling vacancy numbers and actual hours worked and slowing earnings growth.”

Redundancies as a result of the pandemic have so far remained low as companies have been encouraged to furlough rather than make people redundant. 

But what happens when this support comes to an end? 

Rishi Sunak recently announced plans to extend the scheme as we find ourselves facing a second wave? 

However, there is still uncertainty as many industries are set to miss out.

Is it enough?

According to the BBC, the Chancellor has said that:

“Employees must be in ‘viable’ jobs to benefit from the wage top-up scheme. This means people working in industries currently closed – such as nightclubs – may lose out as there isn’t any work.”

So whilst the scheme will benefit many, it simply won’t save all, redundancies are inescapable. 

What will the ripple effect be? 

You may think it doesn’t impact on you or your sector but there’s a knock on effect. GDP is falling and many businesses are struggling, especially those deemed non-essential. 

With many having to potentially close again or reduce capacity because of the latest round of restrictions, we are left wondering when will it end?

The true impact of the pandemic on the UK labour market is still to be felt. Many businesses will need to streamline, restructure, and in some cases, start over.

How quickly can we build confidence in recruitment? 

In our industry we had started to see things pick up over the last month or so at the senior level. 

There’s a definite need to find the right senior exec talent to navigate these uncertain times. 

We feel that recruitment as an industry has been severely disrupted but not necessarily reinvented. 

We were already utilising the power of the internet, social media and remote video conferencing/interviewing, etc. 

However, we also need to be aware of the fast changing needs of our clients and candidates. 

I know the R word is one I’ll hear regularly over the coming months, if not years. 

At Barron Williams, I’m confident we’re in a strong position to support both clients with their hiring needs and candidates with their future searches, in such difficult times.

The 13 things you must do if you’ve been made redundant 

1. Question the decision

Don’t go down without a fight if you think the decision is wrong.

Challenge your inclusion. Challenge the selection criteria – Is it fair and reasonable?

If you are currently on furlough, your statutory redundancy rights are written into employment law, so should not be affected. If you’re unsure, seek legal advice!

2. Remain positive 

Don’t feel guilty! Redundancy happens to the best. In fact, as I said earlier in this article, “battle scars” make us a better person, a better manager.

It is a business decision. Good or bad, don’t dwell on it.

3. Remain calm and pragmatic 

Don’t panic! Whilst many of us experience it at some stage of our careers that doesn’t lessen the psychological pain that often accompanies redundancy. 

Those feelings of uncertainty can be hard to deal with. Dust yourself down and focus on the future.

How will you support yourself and your family, how will you find that next role etc, are all perfectly reasonable concerns…

If helpful, talk about with people who have experienced it. 

Clear your mind and focus on actions. 

Me, personally, I found that networking helped. Talking to peers, learning from the experience of others, and putting their advice into practice.

4. Talk about it

Don’t be afraid to talk about it. A problem shared is a problem halved!

Talk to friends who’ve been through it. You’ll know some.

Keep active on social media. Like and share good material. Get in touch with old contacts. Find and make new contacts.

Social media, for all the negatives, it can be a great source of support and contact, a way to reach out to those who can help you.

Start contacting your network systematically asking for referrals to other good people.

If you don’t have a network, start building one, reach out.

Take stock. Focus on what has happened. Create a clear plan for moving forward.

5. Accept the challenge 

It’s not personal… Easy said, but it’s not about you. Keep your professional mask secure and, as hard as it may seem sometimes, remain upbeat and positive when you’re ‘working’.

6. Get what you’re entitled to

Again, know your rights. If you’re unsure, seek legal advice.

7. Plan your finances

Unless your redundancy settlement was exceptionally generous, you may need to adjust your budget. Plan proactively, set milestones for your role search and get on with the plan.

8. Set yourself a daily and weekly schedule

That doesn’t mean that your search for a new role needs to be a 9 till 5 but structuring your weekdays will help. Plan like you would for a working week – Prioritise, prepare, execute, etc.

9. Act quickly

You don’t get to control when opportunities arise. Our friend was advised to take a break so turned down a potential role and then radio silence for 6 months. 

In the article, he goes on to say that:

“I handled it really, really badly and made some classic mistakes. I was in my early 50s at the time and someone I trust enormously advised me to take three months out, to rest up and not take the first job that came along.”

At the start, take a step back, review your career, set goals, and create a clear plan for moving forward. But do it quickly!

Think about what the next role will look like? Where? What type of company you’d like to work for?

Align your plan accordingly. But be proactive. Be open. Don’t miss a potential opportunity.

10. …But choose wisely

The above said, you still need to be careful not to join the wrong organisation or take the wrong role. Don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire.

Your next move should be with the right company. Take some time to reflect and consider what is really important to you in your work.

11. Grow, develop and use your network

Regular readers of our articles will know we’re strong advocates of the power of networking.

Reach out to your contacts. Use them to identify useful new contacts.

Explore what opportunities they may be aware of or, more likely, find out what’s happening in their ‘world’. 

Use that information to target sectors, markets and organisations. And people.

Expand your network further, speak to more contacts of contacts. Good people refer good people.

Contact your close network connections directly – Pick up the phone!

Aim to do this regularly, keep in touch, you might be surprised at how others will support your search. 

This is your ‘marketing plan’, the aim is to not just find a new role it is to find the right role. 

The market might be incredibly competitive, so be prepared to go the extra mile to find opportunities. Don’t wait to be found.

12. Explore new opportunities

If you’re in a position to take some time to think about your options… 

Is it time to go it alone? 

A change of career? A change of direction? Retraining? Higher risk but if not now, when?

I know several successful business owners who got their start after being made redundant. 

13. Take the time to improve your CV

Gear up for your new role search and focus the mind with a CV update.

Rewrite it, update it, make improvements. 

Get feedback and improve it again.

Maximum 3 pages, reverse chronological, no gaps. Compelling, sharp, measurable achievements.

Our recent How to ensure your CV is Marketing you most effectively article offers some insight into what makes for an effective CV.

Exiting a role at a time not of your choosing is seldom welcome…

Especially now! However, it’s happening to many, and if that’s you, you’ll handle it.

It may be of little comfort but it’s happened to many before and many will follow. It is part of modern corporate life.

Your CV will remind you of what you’ve achieved, and the value you’ve created. Someone else will see that too. Go find them.

If you’re looking for your next role, then please feel free to Upload Your CV or Call Us for an exploratory conversation.

If you’re looking for a senior executive for your organisation, please use our Client Upload Form or Call Us now.

Barron Williams

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