A man standing up at a desk with a cardboard box of items in it, symbolising redundancy.
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How to stay positive about your redundancy

12 Apr 2023

Have you been made redundant recently? Hays’ Gaelle Blake is here to help you handle it, address it in job interviews and turn it around for the better.

One of the most consequential impacts of the pandemic has been the number of redundancies across our world of work. Many organisations faced drastic budget cuts as a result of Covid-19, leaving those on the receiving end in need of work and potentially unsure about their careers.

To make matters even more complicated, companies are now facing more cuts due to the ongoing energy crisis and high rate of inflation.

If you are one of the many people being let go from work, you may feel as though the future of your career is in unstable hands. Furthermore, addressing your redundancy on your CV and in job interviews might understandably be weighing on your mind.

Although a redundancy is rarely a career highlight, remember that it doesn’t make you a less desirable candidate for future roles. Employers understand that it’s a decision beyond your control. What you can control is how you communicate it to them.

Make sure that you express pride in your previous position and emphasise your major accomplishments. Also, make use of the free time you may have to improve old skills or gain new ones.

Is there a stigma around redundancy?

First things first, it is important to realise that there is no stigma related to redundancy. Making someone redundant is due to commercial reasons and never a reflection of the individual, their skills or their value. Employers also know better than anyone that this decision is never an easy one to make. They are rarely sceptical of a candidate who has experienced redundancy.

You shouldn’t feel at all ashamed or embarrassed about being made redundant or worry about how it might impact your future career.

Having said this, you will inevitably need to address the redundancy during your job search. Here’s some guidance on how to handle it professionally and positively.

Explaining redundancy on your CV

Be clear about your dates of employment. Include both the month and year of your start and end dates for your last period of employment. Being transparent is the best course of action and avoids any confusion or suspicion on the employer’s part.

Briefly explain that you were made redundant in the context of the broader organisational or economic situation. You could write, for example: “My role was made redundant due to the impact of Covid-19 on my employer’s industry.” Keep it brief – you want to save space for selling your skills and experience.

Once you’ve mentioned your redundancy, your focus should move to your recent achievements in your last role. As well as more formal achievements, refer to any projects you worked on that you are proud of, whether you managed to complete these before leaving or not.

Include any accomplishments since being out of work. If you have proactively filled your time with something that might give you an edge above other candidates, mention it in your CV. Examples could include taking an online course, learning a new skill or completing voluntary work.

Explaining redundancy in an interview

It’s likely that your redundancy will be discussed in an interview with your potential employer, so here are some pointers to help you feel prepared.

Explain the wider context. Elaborate on what you put in your CV by explaining more thoroughly your organisation’s situation and the challenges it was facing which led to your redundancy.

Express pride in your last role. Your accomplishments in your last job are no less valid due to your redundancy, which is not a reflection of your abilities or performance. Cite your achievements with confidence and back them up with quantifiable results.

Be positive about your previous employer. Talking negatively about your previous employer will only reflect badly on you. Any reference to the manager or organisation that made you redundant should be in the context of being thankful for your time, learning and achievements there.

Again, elaborate on what you put on your CV about your time after being made redundant. Have you been upskilling, attending webinars or reading papers and books about your industry? Make it clear that the way in which you’ve used your time since leaving your last job makes you an even stronger potential employee for this position.

If you’re not sure about how to talk about being made redundant, here is a model interview answer to get you thinking:

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my previous employer had to make a number of budget cuts. As a result, my role and a number of others were made redundant. I’m proud of what I managed to achieve in my last role, like expanding our client list, building a new process and upskilling in a number of areas.

“I’ve made use of my time since being made redundant by taking a number of online courses to expand my skills. I’ve also proactively kept up with changes and developments in the industry so I’m able to hit the ground running in a new role.”

There can be positive effects to redundancy as well. It’s easier said than done, but try to view your redundancy as an opportunity for positive change and growth. Perhaps this is a chance for you to step back, review your career decisions and consider the best strategy for going forward.

Redundancy is a difficult situation to be in, so allow yourself a moment to grieve before you bounce back. It might be helpful to remind yourself that you’re not alone. Get support from your recruiter, your mentor and your friends and family who will help you stay positive and make your next step.

By Gaelle Blake

Gaelle Blake is director of Hays permanent appointments for the UK and Ireland. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays blog.

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