Redundancy: be a survivor

At the time of writing, employment may be on the rise, but in an increasingly insecure job market, so is redundancy. It's a sad fact that more of us are losing our jobs more often. Here are some practical steps to help you survive the whole process, from coming to terms with the initial shock to setting your sights on the next chapter.

Take time to absorb the news

Redundancy is likely to put you through all sorts of unwelcome emotions at first. It can leave you feeling stressed, bitter and rejected – which are the last things you need hanging over you when you’re trying to persuade a new employer to take you on.  It’s important to take time to acknowledge how you feel before you move on.

It’s easier said than done, but try not to take it personally. Remember, your employer hasn’t made you redundant – it can only declare your job redundant, if there is no longer sufficient need for the work you do. Your employer must work from this basic premise, so redundancy should never be a reflection on you personally or professionally. During redundancy processes, many employers provide a counsellor who can help you make sense of what you’re feeling, so don’t bottle it up if you’re struggling to cope.

Make sure you’ve been fairly treated

Whatever the logic of the business decision behind it, redundancy can often seem very unfair. Employers must follow a transparent consultation and selection process without discrimination or personal bias. See our redundancy section for comprehensive details about how this should work in practice and what support you can get from your union and others if it doesn’t.  

Get what you are entitled to

If it is clear that a fair and transparent process has taken place, the next step is to find out what you are entitled to. workSMART has lots of information on your statutory redundancy rights. These include minimum redundancy pay (provided you have at least two years’ continuous service with your employer), notice periods, time off to look for other work, and what you can expect if your company has gone bust. Many organisations offer better conditions that the statutory minimum, so do also check your contract

Update your CV

Like it or not, you’re going to need your CV. As soon as you break the news that you’ll soon be back in the job market, you want to be ready for any offers or opportunities that come your way. Revamping your CV is also a first practical step in moving on psychologically and can actually feel quite positive and liberating.  If you haven’t looked at your CV for a while, see our advice about What makes a good CV? 

Share the news

Naturally, most people break the news to family and friends first. They will let you vent (within reason) and give you moral support. They can help you see the bigger picture and also be a sounding board for how you are thinking about your options (see below).

Then you may want to let work and industry colleagues in your online and offline professional networks know, because in many industries they’re the ones most likely to help you find your next job. It can feel awkward getting in touch at first, especially if you've been incomunicado for a while. But most people will be happy to help if they know what you want. Observe the usual social niceties by all means, but make sure you also spell out why you’re getting in touch: do you want a job; an introduction to someone hiring staff; advice and information from a valued peer; or simply to have them keep an eye out for interesting opportunities? 

Explore your options

Could your redundancy actually be an opportunity instead of a crisis? Redundancy can often confront you with exciting options you had never even considered until they were foisted upon you. Does your redundancy pay-out give you the chance to take a break and go experience a new country or culture? Or the chance to retrain and change career altogether? (We discussed this at greater length recently in our Taking a career break blog post.) Perhaps you will still get a new job straight away, but at least for the time being, give yourself the luxury of keeping your options open and exploring all the possibilities, however fanciful!

Save and take what you need

Provided it’s not confidential company information or copyright, a lot of the work that you have done and resources available to you at work could serve you well in your future career - an expert article you wrote for the company newsletter, for example, or the reference manual you were given on a first aid training course. Put aside some time during your notice period to work out what you need to take with you, print off or save on a USB stick. But don’t leave it until the last minute!

As part of the severance process, your employer should also provide you by law with your P45 and written details of your redundancy payment and package. The contact details of your line manager (for requesting references), trade union rep, HR department and pension fund will also come in very handy. Don’t leave the building without them.

Finally, give yourself a break. Whether you realise it or not, being made redundant is a stressful process. Even if you are heading straight into a new job, at least take the first day after redundancy to reset yourself, do something you enjoy or simply spending some down-time with family and friends. Just now, work can wait.  

Visit our Redundancy section for comprehensive information on your rights.