Redundancy can be distressing, bringing with it the shock of uncertainty, rejection and even a kind of grief. But it can also bring opportunities for change. We look at how to get back on track after losing your job.
Find out what you are owed
If you worked for the company for two years or more, you should be paid statutory redundancy. The amount depends on age and the number of years you worked there.
Statutory pay is equal to one week’s pay for each year’s employment when you were aged between 22 and 40 years, as an example; there’s a calculator on gov.uk where you can work out what you should receive. Your employer might have to pay more on top of this, depending on your contract.
If you suspect that your redundancy isn’t justifiable, or genuine, then you may be able to challenge it. Your local Citizens Advice advisers can help.
While you look for a new job, you could be entitled to benefits – contact a local adviser to find out.
Work out what you need
Redundancy is a pivotal point, and can feel overwhelming. What should you do next? Should you be applying for as many jobs as you can? Should you be retraining for something new?
Before deciding, consider your obligations, says Jo Castro, a coach who has helped people back into work after redundancies and other career gaps.
“What are your responsibilities – mortgage, rent, family expenses? What is the amount of money you need to earn? Be aware of that when planning your next steps,” she says.
Decide what you want
“I know it sounds a bit naff, and it can be difficult to do when you’re feeling bruised, but you do have to try to reframe it as a real opportunity,” Castro says. “Think about what you didn’t like in your old job. What you really liked. What you can do differently now.”
Your skills might make you a good fit for a sector you would never otherwise have considered, says Alistair Morris, a career development expert at the CV and Interview Advisors. “If you’ve been in the same line of work for a long time, you may not be aware of opportunities in new growth areas where your skills might make you a good fit – things such as renewables or cybersecurity.”
Beware the side hustle
Pause before you throw yourself into starting out on your own. “Lots of people start with really big ideas of what they want to do. But while big ideas are fine when they’re in our heads, whether we’re actually going to be able to enact them, or even really want to, is a different thing,” Castro says.
She urges particular caution when it comes to building a business around your passions and hobbies, as it can change your relationships with the things you’ve always loved doing.
“When something you love becomes your work, that can take the joy out of it,” she says.
Make a network map
Whether you want to stay within the same industry, or move into a new sector, the network of people you know – through work, friends and family – is a valuable starting point.
“Take a large piece of blank paper and draw a ‘network map’ with the names of all the people in your work network, however close or distant, and friends and family, too,” Castro says. “Think about who you have a strong link with, and those you have less strong links with.”
The next step might be to get in touch with some of your existing contacts to let them know you are newly available for work, or sending speculative job applications, or asking people in a line of work you’re interested in for advice on retraining.
Sort out your CV
“A lot of people may not have written a CV for decades,” Morris says. The old format of name, contact details, short personal statement, and then a reverse-chronological list of your professional experience, is still de rigueur, he says.
But, if you are looking for work in a new sector, or have retrained for something completely new, your last job may not be the most important one.
You need to get the most pertinent information right up at the top of the page, in the personal statement, Morris says, and tailor that part of your CV to fit each job you apply for.
“You are building a business case as to why that employer should be interested in you, and that means looking to the future and what you can offer rather than offering a retrospective glance at what you’ve done in the past,” he adds.
Build your online presence
To get noticed by the right people, you need to be in the right place, says Rachel Brushfield, a career strategist and coach at the Talent Liberation Company. “Who is your target audience, what language do they use and what oceans do they swim in?”
For “oceans”, read social media platforms. In a lot of cases, it’s LinkedIn. The platform says it has 950 million members worldwide and, love it or hate it, it has become a go-to for professional networking in a host of industries.
For job-hunting purposes, a LinkedIn profile page should have a “professional-looking head and shoulders photo on a neutral background”, Morris says.
“Change that standard block of colour at the top of the profile page to something personal to you – a work-related image, or a banner with your contact details.”
In sections on your former jobs, include concrete achievements that are personal to you. “See yourself through the eyes of employers you want to attract,” Brushfield says. “What problems do they have that you can help with, what gives you credibility – testimonials, awards? What makes you ‘marketable’?”
Learn your lines
People will ask why you left your last job, so have a line ready. And even if you are upset with the way your employment ended, keep it positive. “In interviews, there’s nothing more offputting than someone who comes along and tells you how awful it was at their last company, so you’ve got to put that behind you,” Castro says.