Redundancy – meaning a position of employment is no longer tenable – is a traumatic experience. It is possibly one of the most devastating events you’ll have to go through in your career but one that is becoming all too frequent across the industry.
Being made redundant may now be a commonplace feature of working life but it stills instils a cocktail of unpleasant feelings – a failure, not good at your job, sacked, fear, rejection, loss, humiliation, injustice.
So, why does it leave us feeling so bad? Loss of earnings leaves us feeling vulnerable and scared that we won’t be able to make ends meet. Our self-esteem is damaged. We feel hurt and paranoid. But what you have to remember is that it was your job, not you, that was made redundant. Many people who are made redundant go on to find more rewarding and better paid jobs.
However, the stigma that used to be attached to being made redundant no longer exists either. Speaking to HR Managers within the medical communications businesses, they all say that redundancy does not impact on a candidate’s employability. Many managers will have been made redundant themselves. Be prepared to be asked about the circumstances but answer confidently because you should have nothing to hide.
REASONS FOR REDUNDANCY
Redundancies take place when the employer shuts down the business, or the whole office, or when there is no longer the demand for the work that the employee does. Resignation is not the same as redundancy and if an employee actively resigns from their job they are not entitled to any redundancy payments.
There are many reasons for a company to reducie it's head count, or downsize; most common are:
- Mergers or takeovers
- Increase in operating costs
- Loss of key business
- New management
- New technologies
- Reduced profit.
TYPES OF REDUNDANCY
There are two types of redundancy:
- Compulsory redundancy is when your company’s business has been relocated, reduced or ceased trading altogether and the job no longer exists.
- Voluntary redundancy is an alternative that opens up the choice to all employees to offer to take redundancy. However, just because it’s offered the employer does not have to accept it.
Employees have certain rights when facing redundancy. Employers should follow a code of good practice, which means:
- Advance warning of the situation is given (the DTI issues formal notification time scales)
- Selection criteria that are fair and objective
- Alternative employment within the company is considered – while this happens, the employee may be on Garden Leave. Contractually you are not allowed to take up a new position during this period; this prevents employees from sabotaging confidential information, or going to competitors while still employed.
- Assistance with job hunting is offered – e.g. use of a computer and telephone, or the Internet
- There are open lines of communication with trade or employment bodies
- Redundancy package (there are payment criteria).
If you are in any doubt about the validity of your redundancy you should consult a legal professional. There are incidences of Constructive Dismissal where an employer has allowed actions to be taken which made someone feel that their job no longer exists; or Unfair or Unlawful Dismissal where correct redundancy procedures were not followed. It is very important to seek professional advice before accusing an employer of either or these.
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
So, now you are sitting at home; the feelings of rejection have subsided, you’re getting used to wandering into town for breakfast at that French patisserie, your golf has improved immeasurably, and you’ve finally reached the bottom of the laundry basket. However, garden leave is over and you have to start looking for a new job.
Turn the Threat into an Opportunity – Consider your options. You could retrain, or study; or work abroad. You may find it useful to do a SWOT Analysis on yourself – analyse your Strengths and Weaknesses and the Threats (risks) and Opportunities and decide on a career path based on your conclusions.
Update your CV - Highlights the skills you have for the job you want to do. There is no such thing as a generic CV - read the job advert, and demonstrate experience you have which matches what they are looking for. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know you can do it. Then spell-check it!!
Go Surfing – There a lots of Internet job boards for the Pharmaceutical industry available and more coming up all the time. As well as dedicated job boards, most trade magazines list their published jobs on their web sites too, often with a hyperlink either to the employer or to the recruitment consultants who are advertising it, who will specialise in that field.
Ask a Professional – Find a recruitment consultant who has positions in the sector you want to work. Don’t just blanket mail your CV – make it clear what you want to do. Meet them for a face-to-face interview so that they can give a more detailed description to their client and improve your chances of getting that interview. Many Recruitment Consultants offer personality tests to help you identify what jobs you’re best suited for. If you are unsure of what you want to do, they can give advice on skills, experience, personality types etc. that different jobs require.
Manage your Finances – Think of all eventualities and budget for them. How long can you be out of work for? Do you need to make pension contributions? Are there tax implications? Are you entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance?
Redundancy has become an occupational hazard of working life. If it happens to you, try to manage the situation and turn it to your advantage. Don’t take it personally, ensure you are given everything you are entitled to and move on to bigger and better things.
Useful Web links:
www.redundancyhelp.co.uk - a very useful web site with numerous links to official documentation regarding rights, finance, tax, legal issues, compensation etc.
https://www.gov.uk/browse/working/redundancies-dismissals - Department of Trade & Industry on redundancy