Seven positive actions you can take when you’ve been made redundant

Have you recently been made redundant? CV expert Laura Harmsworth shares seven positive actions you can take.

For the final two years of my career in HR, I spent the majority of my time supporting the business and employees through redundancies. I then went on maternity leave and, instead of returning to work, I took voluntary redundancy.

For me, this was a positive experience as I was in control and made the decision, it was what I wanted. It enabled me to stay home and bring up our children, and to start Caversham CV Writing. For many though, redundancies can be negative and are out of their control.

I’m currently experiencing an increase in calls and emails from people who have been, or are about to be made redundant and need help updating or writing their CV to enable them to land their next role.

My experience in redundancies, both during my time in HR and now, means I’ve seen a range of emotions and reactions so can empathise if you’re on that rollercoaster at the moment. Try to remember it isn’t personal.

Of the people I speak with, some are receiving outplacement support from their company, others aren’t. Many feel dejected, others are seeing this as an opportunity to reflect on their career and a time to make a change. For many, this has been on the horizon for a while, for others it is a bolt out of the blue.

Whatever your situation, there are seven positive actions you can take.

1) Check our your rights

Check your company’s redundancy policy and the ACAS website to ensure you’re receiving the correct entitlements and support. You can also read some good advice about your finances here.

2) Look after your mental health

We’re currently experiencing a global pandemic and this is going to have massive implications on how we’re feeling and coping. Add redundancy into the mix and things become even more complicated. Looking after yourself and your mental health is critical. 

Watch this six-minute video with a list of where you can access support. You can also read practical tips to help you manage your metal health here. If you’re struggling with anxiety, these tips will help.

3) Decide on your future direction

It’s important to remember that redundancy isn’t your fault – particularly at the moment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies are having to make difficult decisions, and reluctantly let valued staff go.

Take some time out if you can, to recover and reflect. Don’t start applying for lots of jobs the day you’re made redundant.

Have a good think about what you want to do and what you’re good at. Take a personality questionnaire (there are some good, free ones available), or engage the services of a career coach. Make a list of your skills (including the transferable ones), key experience, and key achievements.

If your finances allow, you can undertake some training or volunteer to increase your skills base/address any skill gaps, while applying for jobs. 

There’s plenty of free training available at the moment at places like FutureLearn, Udemy and Skillshare. You can also sign up to a month’s free trial with LinkedIn Learning.

4) Update your CV

The majority of people don’t keep their CV updated as they’re focusing on doing their job. Suddenly, you now need your CV! 

You need to think of all the skills you have and the achievements that will sell you. You also need to know the answer to some important questions, including:

  • Is your CV formatted well and will it get through screening software (your CV is often screened by software before reaching a human)? 
  • What should you include or exclude on your CV?
  • How can you sell yourself without sounding arrogant?

Hiring a CV writer is an option and there are plenty out there. I recommend you speak with a few to find the right fit and budget, as this is an important decision resulting in the key tool to getting you your next role, you need to get it right.

However, your current financial situation might not allow this as an option. There’s a wealth of information online and in books which can guide you. It can be overwhelming though and how do you know if what you’re reading is up to date?  I have something which might appeal to you – find out more at the end of this article.

One last note on CVs. If the redundancy leaves you with a gap in your CV, you must explain it. Don’t be worried about having gaps on your CV – recruiters don’t mind, as long as they know why that gap is there. Things you can add include: training, voluntary, reading relevant journals, listening to podcasts, attending online events, hiring a career coach.

 All these will show you in a positive light and demonstrate that you used that time well. If you have not got anything to add to this section, start doing them now.

Upskilling is a great thing to do – even if you can demonstrate that you have enrolled on a course that hasn’t yet started, this is something to add to your CV and will help eliminate a gap.

5) Sign up to job boards

To ensure you have access to the widest number of potential roles, sign up to as many online job boards as you can, such as Indeed, Totaljobs, Reed, CV-Library, Monster, Adzuna, Glassdoor, CWJobs, Guardian Jobs, WorkInStartups.

Register with relevant recruitment agencies, too.

6) Use your network

Job boards are great but tapping into your network is invaluable. If you’re not on LinkedIn, create a profile and if you’re on there, ensure you profile is up to date and start networking:

  • Add relevant contacts / follow relevant companies / engage with others.
  • Ask for endorsements for certain skills (remember to offer to endorse them, asking which skills they would like you to endorse on their profile).
  • Every time you see a role you’re interested in, highlight key words and phrases and if appropriate add these to your profile.
  • Follow relevant groups/bodies and contribute to these so people can see you know what you are talking about and would be good to hire.

7) Keep positive

The market is more uncertain than ever right now but try to keep positive. People are securing interviews and roles; it might just take a bit more time and perseverance. 

Areas that are currently seeing job postings include health, IT, education, finance, engineering, real estate, and logistics (distribution). If you don’t have experience in these areas, identify and sell your transferable skills. These industries will also have roles within them such as HR.

At the interview, don’t talk about the redundancy or your former employer negatively. Show you’re in a position to move on and aren’t resentful.

How I can help you

Earlier, I talked about how you can update or write your own CV. If you’d like more help getting your CV job-ready, I have an online course which can help you, based on my experience in HR and recruitment, and as a CV writer for the last eight years.

As soon as you sign up you get instant, lifetime access to the course. This means you can come back and use the information as much as you like in the future, for example when you apply for your next job or promotion.

I explain how to structure and design your CV, and what content to include. The lessons are structured so at each stage you’re prompted to update the relevant part of your CV, using the downloadable CV worksheet.

The course includes simple worksheets which will help you write the sections of your CV and identify your skills and achievements, and a checklist at the end to ensure you’ve included everything from the course. There’s a bonus section on cover letters.

And if you wish, I even include an option that includes a review of your CV by me, to give you absolute confidence that your CV really sells you.

You can find out more about the course here.

Redundancy is not your fault – but what you do now IS down to you!

And finally, I want you to remember, there are many things in life we have no control over, and redundancy is one of those.

But what you can control is how you react to being made redundant, and the actions you take right now. I hope these practical ideas help you through this period of your life and make you feel more in control.

To gain an insight into how Laura Harmsworth can help you, visit her website, or call 0118 947 2488.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris