Article originally appeared on the Speaking Well in Public Facebook page, July 2015
Redundancy – getting laid off – is now a fact of life, whereas a few years ago, in many sectors, it just didn’t happen. Now it does, and if you aren’t ready when the unthinkable happens, you may go under.
Even if you’re feeling secure right now, you can’t afford to be complacent. And starting to deal with the situation after you’ve been made redundant will put you way behind the field. Here’s your survival kit – start now.
- Stay awake. Listen to conversations, read the business pages, pay attention in meetings and briefings. An announcement should not come as a shock.
- Look out of the window. There’s a whole world beyond your bubble – what’s happening in your field, who are the key players?
- Deal with how you feel. If you are anxious, resentful and scared, it will cause stress levels to rocket and can affect your behaviour, relationships and health. Start to recognise, acknowledge and deal with what may be going on inside.
- Think finance. What would you do if you were offered a redundancy package? How much do you need to pay the mortgage, eat, keep up your family’s standard of living? And then how long would the lump sum conceivably last? If you do decide to go for it, the temptation is to take the money and run, not thinking beyond the zeros. Be aware that it will not last, the clock is ticking, and it will take a lot longer to find your next job than you thought. Pay off credit card and store card debt at once, and don’t wait till you’ve nearly run out of money before you start looking.
Tip: Although you have PAYE, and over a certain amount the lump sum will arrive minus tax, check with HMRC whether your year’s salary plus your redundancy lump sum together temporarily shove you up into a higher tax bracket. You may be in for a ‘surprise’ when you do that year’s tax return.
- Be strategic. Think what you would do immediately following redundancy. Buy a camper van and tour Europe … start your own business … do up the house … ambitions and daydreams can influence decisions, but are they the right thing? Looking ahead, a career gap looks bad on a CV and you’ll have to explain yourself later to every recruiter. You’ll risk going out of date and losing track of contacts, and you’ll also have to secure a personal/character reference to cover any period you weren’t working.You can be a ‘portfolio worker’ – if you’d like to start your own business, why wait till you have no steady income? Start now. Do both. Let HMRC know, and it’s simple to deal with your tax and NI situation, with their help. They offer free courses, too.
- Think personal brand. This may be alien to you, and requires a change of thinking, but whether you realise it or not, you already have a personal brand. Time to develop, package and consider marketing it.
- Get upskilled. If you’re not quite there with IT skills, maths or English [key employer requirements], get on a course and brush up. Are courses in presentation skills, leadership, book keeping, project management, train the trainer, and any professional qualifications on offer? Grab the opportunity and use the results to polish up your CV and Linked In. You want your product [you and what you offer] to be as practical, up to date and attractive to buyers as possible.
- Sort your packaging. Although the paper CV is dying, the online CV is a vital element of many applications, and a great Linked In profile is now a business standard. You need to go through the thinking and the skills audit process to help you marshal your thoughts about what makes you so great; your key achievements, key skills and career history. You have a story to tell, so start telling it to yourself – because you’re the first person you’ll need to convince. And remove any references to age, date of birth and O-Levels.
- Think networks. You’ve probably at least dipped a toe into Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, You Tube and so on. If you haven’t – give it a go. Get used to the idea that you know people and they know people and messages spread incredibly quickly via social media. Governments collapse, campaigns succeed, reputations launch using these networks, and you can use them too to further your career.
- Discover where the jobs are. Start finding out about online recruitment agencies and how they work. Traditional sources like newspapers, shop windows and job centres are all very well, but 70+% of all job vacancies are not advertised. Start trawling round the hidden job market. You may not be applying at the moment, but it will be easier if you know where they are in advance, should you find yourself staring at your leaving date email.
There’s a saying: ‘grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’ [att. Reinhold Niebuhr].
Yes, it’s an uncertain and scary VUCA world. But there’s a lot you can do to take control, and deal with the possibility that you may have to go out there. Then if you do find yourself having to move on, you’ll be prepared, confident and ready for it. PH