Redundancy:  you’re not alone

Iain Beaumont from Winning Interviews looks at the impact of redundancy and the steps you can take to get back on track.

The number of people across the UK who have registered for government support over the last 2 months is quite staggering.  Almost 2 million people have applied for Universal Credit since we entered lockdown, and the outlook is even more gloomy.

A quarter of the UK’s workforce are furloughed, with industries such as entertainment, hospitality, events and aviation being some of the hardest hit, with further impact expected over the coming months.  Although the furlough scheme has been extended through to October 2020, there is a big question as to whether those who have been placed on the government retention scheme will have jobs to come back to.

The latest figures published by the Bank of England suggest that the UK economy will shrink by 14% and UK unemployment will double for 2020 as a whole.  Furthermore, it has suggested that we could fall into the worst economic recession on record.

UK unemployment and job prospects

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak across Europe, employment was at a record high, with 76.6% of people aged 16-64 in paid work (up by 0.2% on the previous quarter).

This should widely be seen as good news

However, the introduction of lockdown and limited movement of people has resulted in a catastrophic downturn in the labour market.  With organisations reducing their headcount and the self-employed seeing work dry up overnight, there has been an increased reliance on state aid to support individuals and families.

As a consequence, the number of people now out of a job and looking for work has started to rise, and quickly.  While we wait for the most up-to-date figures from the Office for National Statistics (they are published on a quarterly basis), we have to assume that the impact of lockdown on the UK labour statistics will be wide reaching and a difficult read.

 So, what does this mean?

In short, as we are now officially in a recession, the unemployment rate will rise and the number of job vacancies will fall.  This is a double blow for those who have found themselves out of work as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The emotional and financial impact

The financial impact is often seen immediately, with steady incomes disappearing and disposable income falling.  There may be those who are fortunate to receive a half-decent redundancy package but for those with less than 2 years employment with a company, the prospect of leaving with nothing more than a P45 is the stark reality facing many.

When plunged into redundancy, the most significant effect is on our bank balances; rent/mortgage payments, car finance and general living costs don’t disappear overnight and as a consequence we tend to look at where we can make savings.

Having a fund set aside for a rainy day can provide financial support in the short term but all too often people find themselves with a very limited cushion to fall back on.  Because of this, the silent but very serious deterioration of individual wellbeing starts to set in, and the emotional toil of unemployment starts to become more pronounced.

Even in the most normal of circumstances, involuntary job loss is one of the most stressful life events that people can face.

The emotional stress that can result when someone is made redundant can often be more difficult to manage than the more tangible reality of a reduction in income.  Because of this it is important to know how to recognise the signs of any change in your mental wellbeing and how to get help and support when you need it most.

Where to start?

Probably the most important thing you need to do after losing your job is to keep a routine that you are familiar with and gives structure to your day.  It is important to continue to pay attention to your physical and mental health, and that starts by not allowing yourself to fall into a cycle of despair or anxiety.

Ensure that you keep both your mind and body active and start to work out your plan of action regarding your next steps.  To help people through this process, we’ve put together a short list of actions that you may find helpful:

Do some self-reflection:

A sudden change in your life circumstances is often an opportunity to pause and take a look at the path you wish to take next.  There some great resources freely available on the web which will assist you as you do a little self-exploration.  One of my favourites is 16 Personalities, which is based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (I’m a classic ENFP in case you are wondering).  Taking the short online questionnaire is a great way to get an insight into your personal strengths, weaknesses and preferences.  It will even suggest suitable career paths which may be of interest if you are looking for a change.

Reach out to others:

Going through a difficult and turbulent period in your life doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.  Speaking with others who have experienced similar situations is often very therapeutic and helps you realise that there are plenty of people who have been in the same boat as you.

Don’t be afraid to open up; it is often the first step that you need to take to start the journey to a better place.

You are allowed to be angry:

Losing a job is a desperately sad predicament to face anyone.  Not only is it a hugely stressful time but our pride often takes a severe knock, too.  It is quite right to feel anger towards your employer, and it is an emotion which is all too natural.  However, be careful to control any frustrations you may have and ensure that they don’t manifest into anything more sinister.  It is likely that you will require a future reference from your previous employer and while it is tempting to speak your mind, the truth is that it is often better to grit your teeth and keep your conversations professional.  No one wants to have to try and rebuilt a bridge which was well and truly torched on departure…

Start the job search:

The first piece of advice I want to share is that no matter how tempting it is to just apply for anything, you really don’t want to get stuck in the desperate trap of taking the first opportunity that comes along.

Look at the industries that you are most interested in and begin broadening your network to find out who is hiring and where there may be opportunities in the future.  Joining networking groups and maintaining an active presence on LinkedIn are great ways to get started.

If you have not done so already, reach out to recruiters and introduce yourself with bags of enthusiasm and commitment.

Polish the CV:

If you’ve not had the need to use a CV over the last couple of years, I recommend setting aside some time to update it so that it is ready to send out straight away.

The format of the CV has changed very little over the last couple of decades but the attention span of those reading it has diminished dramatically.  Typically, a first scan of a CV will receive just 6-10 seconds of eye time, so it is crucial that you create a document that has real impact and great readability.

If you want to get an expert to take a look over your CV, there are plenty of opportunities to get some feedback.  You can submit your CV for a free review here.

Invest in yourself:

Without the daily drive to work, 8 hours at a desk and the commute home, you will probably find yourself with time that you never had the luxury of until now.  The loss of a structured routine can cause bad habits to set in (after all, it’s very easy to sit in front of the TV all day when you don’t have to worry about a boss).  However, this time can be well spent by developing your own skills and taking training courses to help build up your experience and qualifications.

There are plenty of online providers who provide free, or reasonably priced courses covering a range of topics and disciplines.  Udemy is a great starting point and at last count, over 7,000 of their online courses won’t cost you a penny.

Look smart, stay sharp:

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, as we enter into a recession, unemployment rises, and job vacancies fall.  With more people applying for fewer roles, never has it been more important to stand out from the competition.

To help with achieve this, it is worth ensuring that your interview attire is as smart as it could be (now really is the time to invest in a new outfit) and that you’re keeping up to date with industry trends and current affairs.  This will demonstrate that you are still focused on your career and are committed to developing yourself professionally, as employers look on that favourably.

If you’ve not had to go through the stress of an interview process for a while, whether in person or over a video link, it is important that you are able to demonstrate that you are the ideal fit for a position.

A great CV is the key that will open the door, a great interview secures the contract.  With only one shot at getting it right, it is vital that you go in as prepared as you can be.  For example, if you tend to find yourself struggling to give your best answers during an interview, or feel that you don’t always make the right impression, it may be worth investing in some professional interview coaching that will help support you through the process.  That way you are guaranteed not to be going in blind and have given yourself the best chance of being invited back and securing the job.

Summary

Being made redundant from your job is a horrible experience and can be hugely stressful.  Take solace in the fact that you are already taking steps to identify how you can improve the situation and find new opportunities, some of which may be even better that what you have just left behind.

By using your time wisely and setting goals that you are comfortable with, you’ll be back on your feet in no time.

About the author

Iain Beaumont founded Winning Interviews to help people excel when it comes to pitching themselves for a job.  He has conducted over 200 job interviews and read over 1,000 CVs throughout his career, so knows how to spot talent when it comes along.  By passing on that experience and knowledge, Iain hopes to help other people succeed and get the job they really want

 

 

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