Redundancy ranks as one of the most stressful of life experiences for many people. However, in the process of leaving, it is important that you protect your interests.
The following 10 suggestions will help you ensure that both practically and emotionally you are in good shape and well-equipped for the challenge.
- Don’t panic - It is common for people to either rush into a flurry of activity or be like a rabbit caught in headlights when they get made redundant. Avoid either by keeping calm. Make a list of all of the things you need to arrange in the months ahead and then list them in priority order. This might include legal and financial arrangements, outplacement support to help you back into work, contact numbers for networking meetings etc.
- Know your rights - Check out the ACAS website for information on your rights. Consider speaking to an employment lawyer if you have any sense that the redundancy may not have followed due legal process or if you are being asked to sign a settlement agreement. Obtain a copy of your company’s in-house redundancy policy if there is one and check out the exit terms and notice periods in your contract. Keep a note of all correspondence relating to the redundancy, print off all related emails and make notes including dates of all related conversations. You may not need these but they are essential if you subsequently want to challenge their decision.
- Negotiate - Don’t be afraid to bargain and ask for more than your employer is initially prepared to give. This might include keeping the company car, support for re-training, an enhanced lump sum etc. Most people focus on negotiating more money but other benefits may be more beneficial, such as job search support from an outplacement company which can often save you more money by helping you find a new job quicker than you would otherwise have done on your own. You have nothing to lose by asking? If the negotiations are complex then your employment lawyer can act as a go between, negotiating on your behalf, so you can maintain a good relationship with your old employer.
- Depersonalise - It can be easy to take your redundancy personally and to feel aggrieved either by the decision or by the process leading up to it. However, if you do choose to challenge the redundancy be careful to focus on facts and policies, not on personalities. Similarly, when talking to prospective employers about your redundancy, present it as having been a tough business decision for your ex employer and don’t criticise the company or particular individuals.
- Build bridges – don’t burn them! - Avoid the temptation of ‘telling them what you really think of them’ before you go. Try to maintain good relations wherever possible with your previous employer, even if you disagree over the manner of your exit. You will still need a reference for your next job, and perhaps several jobs after that, and it may be that your boss or colleagues can make useful introductions or offer you consultancy work. Be gracious. It’s surprising how often paths can cross again in the future.
- Get support - Help from a professional outplacement company such as Personal Career Management can make a huge difference to your job search success and reduce the amount of time taken to find your next role. It’s always worth asking if your employer will contribute towards outplacement services as part of your exit. Whilst you can purchase this yourself, there are significant tax advantages to having outplacement support arranged via your organisation before your agreement is finalised. . As mentioned an employment lawyer can help with the legal part of your exit to ensure you get a fair settlement.
- Plan your Finances - Work out your financial situation so that you have a realistic picture of your finances and cash flow. Knowing how long your money will last you when you’re not working will reduce the anxiety of not knowing. Contact the Jobcentre to find out if you are entitled to financial help.
- Do your research - Don’t rush into applying for any or every job that comes up. Take stock of what you have to offer and what you want to do. Then research what employers are actually looking for so that you can devise a CV that meets their selection criteria. The job market may well have changed a lot since you last were looking for a role so make sure you update your CV. Professional help with your job search can be invaluable here or at the very least get hold of a recently published and well-reviewed book on CVs. Talk to people in your target industry for advice and information. This information will also be invaluable in helping you identify potential employers.
- Brush up your employability - Assess whether there are any gaps in experience or training that could be a barrier to getting another job and address them. Redundancy is a good time to take some of those courses you have always been too busy to go on: not only will this enhance your skills, it will also impress employers with your commitment to continuous professional development.
- Think Positive - This is a great opportunity to move your career forward in line with your own personal agenda. Although it can be traumatic at the time, many people find that in the long run redundancy is actually the catalyst they need to take their career in the direction they actually want to go. So use this time to think about what you really want, and go for it.
Personal Career Management provide a range of career coaching and job searching programmes to help you make good decisions regarding your next career move and secure the role you want. They offer a free introductory meeting to visitors to Telegraph Jobs to find out more