Three important things I’ve learned about redundancy

I’ve been made redundant twice in my career. So far. Both times under quite different circumstances. And I’m glad I’ve already experienced it, as it will inevitably happen again in the next thirty years. I’ve also seen a lot of redundancies to others, among both senior and junior staff, and I’m often asked for advice about it.

So having learned a thing or two about redundancy, there are three key pieces of advice I’d give anyone going through it:

Sometimes it is personal

It’s always hard not to take it personally when you’ve been made redundant. But it is important to understand if it really waspersonal, and if you should learn anything from it. As much as HR Directors argue that roles are targeted, not individuals, the reality is that personalities do come into it.

So, be honest with yourself. It’s easy to decide it all happened because your boss didn’t like you. If that’s true, try to notch it up as experience and not let it affect relationships in your next job (although if you suspect serious foul play, you should seek legal advice during the consultation process).

Ask for the honest reflections of colleagues you trust. Redundancy can happen to anyone at any time, but when times are tough for a company it’s important to know if it could have turned out differently for you

Is it time for a change of direction?

Whatever the circumstances of your departure, take the opportunity to consider whether it might be time to take a new career path. Often people are unhappy in the lead up to redundancy and feel relieved when it comes. But if you loved your job and are devastated to lose it, it still might be time to think about whether your industry is sustainable. Redundancies can be a sign that a company is struggling, which can indicate that an industry is struggling.

If you have the buffer of a good pay-out to live off, take your time to consider a new career. But likewise, if you still love your job and your industry, don’t change direction just because redundancy has been upsetting or shaken your confidence. Those feelings will pass.

Don’t be embarrassed

It’s natural to feel a bit embarrassed when you’re made redundant, especially if the news is made public in your trade press. But don’t assume it will reflect badly on you in any way. Often industry friends and colleagues will be very supportive. People understand that different factors come into play in these situations, and they can read between the lines.

Don’t get caught up in what people think about it, just decide what you’re comfortable revealing and focus on what you want to do next. When you interview for a new role, don’t feel that you have to hide or explain the fact that you’ve been made redundant. Talk about what you want to achieve now. You’ll look proactive and in control of the situation, rather than bitter.

Redundancy is very common in some industries, almost an occupational hazard. Some of the most senior, intelligent and talented people I know have been made redundant more than once. Some of the laziest people I know have never been made redundant. 

When it happens, it isn’t fair, it just is what it is. 

But it’s very much up to you how you respond to it and what you make of the situation.

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