Unless you’re the manager of Chelsea FC, and your likely average severance package is upwards of £12 million, then redundancy is probably the last thing you want. It’s never just the financial considerations either. You ask yourself what it was that made you a target for the chop; then you wonder about how it’s going to look on your CV; then there’s whether your gardening leave money will tide you over to your next job.
If you’re lucky, and you don’t feel absolutely devastated from the get-go, you can, at first, feel proactive, even confident. Then, for many, as the time goes by and new opportunities aren’t as apparent as you’d hoped, panic sets in. For a lot of people, gardening-leave money can be used up pretty quickly. Unless you have a golden parachute, your pay isn’t likely to cover more than a couple of months of bills, petrol, childcare, and rent or mortgage payments. Soon, you’re looking at your possessions in terms of assets: ‘how much would that fetch on eBay?’
Then, as time goes by and you’re still unlucky, you start to question your methods. ‘Is it how I come across in interviews?’, ‘am I looking in all the wrong places?’, ‘is there something wrong with my CV?’, ‘should I lower my sights?’, ‘am I even qualified for that?’. The rot of self-doubt sets in.
A lot of the recently redundant haven’t registered as unemployed or begun claiming the Job Seekers’ Allowance benefit. Perhaps they thought they’d get a job soon enough to avoid it; perhaps they feel like JSA is for the long-term unemployed, or they feel there’s some kind of shame associated with receiving it. Either way, as the money begins to run out, JSA starts to look more attractive, but there’s the niggling worry that you might be funnelled into a job that’s low-paying, nothing to do with your last position and will take up a lot of time that could be better spent applying for jobs you really want. For some of the redundant, signing on is a hassle, and could land you somewhere that you don’t want to be – and that’s understandable.
You have to gamble on whether you think finding something similar to your old role is realistic, and whether you’ve got the money to stay the course. But the problem is, so few people make a coherent plan when they become redundant. You’re not in the right mindset, and you might have preconceptions about how the market’s ticking, or how much experience you have outside the organisation you’ve just left.
Then there’s age – the problem that’s little talked about. A lot of people who are made redundant are forty-plus and have been removed from an area of middle management that firms have decided that they no longer need to function efficiently. For the older redundant, it can feel like employers aren’t interested in hiring people who might command a high wage, and whose career, whilst not at an end, is not as malleable as that of their twenty-something counterpart.
Redundancy can be a breath of fresh air – if its handled properly. For some it’s devastating, full-stop, but a lot of people treat it as a new opportunity to move in the direction they’ve spent rainy days dreaming about. But in order to make the most of redundancy, you have to have a plan in place – both careers and finance focussed too. There need to be time limits, aims and budgets drawn up, so that you approach the applications process with as clear a mind as possible – an outlook that’s essential if you’re going to impress in interviews.
Above all, you need the right kind of advice – the kind that trawling job sites won’t help with. Asking your friends isn’t always going to be the best idea – they might just tell you what you want to hear. There are a few places you could go for impartial advice – but most of them will cost you money. Our top pick, however, doesn’t. At the National Careers Service, trained advisers can help you after a redundancy. They can help you work through your plan, take a second look at your CV, and point you in directions you might not have previously considered. Redundancy isn’t something you should have to handle on your own- it’s too stressful, and it’s tough to get perspective. The National Careers Service can help you see past the obstacles.