Drastic budget cuts and shifting priorities as a result of the pandemic has left employers grappling tough decisions surrounding redundancy. Sadly, a huge number of professionals have been let go this year and will be entering 2021 looking for work.

If you are one of the many people in this position, you may be feeling uncertain and apprehensive about your career prospects as we enter the New Year. Here is some advice on how to overcome these feelings and frame redundancy in a professional and positive way.

Addressing the stigma

If you feel at a disadvantage due to having been made redundant, you’ve got to shake this off. You have no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed about being made redundant. Redundancy is always due to commercial reasons and never a reflection of the employee.

Employers know better than anyone that this is the case and are rarely, if ever, sceptical of a candidate in this position. However, you do need to be prepared to address this when applying for a new role both in your CV and in an interview.

Tackling redundancy on your CV

A redundancy and any consequential gaps in your employment history will need to be explained on your CV. Here’s my advice about how to do this:

  1. Make your employment history clear. Being transparent is the best course of action and avoids any confusion or suspicion on the employer’s part. Clearly indicate the month and year of your start and end dates of your employment history, even if there are gaps.

  2. Address your redundancy with context. Briefly explain that you were made redundant in the context of the broader organisational or economic situation. Keep it to a sentence or two, because you want to save space for selling your skills and experience.

  3. Focus on your achievements. Once you’ve mentioned your redundancy, move on to discussing the achievements and highlights from your last role.

  4. Include your accomplishments since being made redundant. Any time that you might have spent out of work is by no means wasted. If you have done any upskilling, independent learning or voluntary work, include this to give you an edge over other candidates.

Talking about redundancy in an interview

Your redundancy will almost certainly crop up in an interview setting, so here are some pointers to help you feel prepared:

  1. Explain the wider context. While every employer will be well aware of the current climate, there is no harm in elaborating on what you put in your CV. Explain your previous organisation’s situation and the challenges it was facing which led to your redundancy.  

  2. Talk proudly of your last role. Your accomplishments in your last job are no less valid due to your redundancy – which as we established, is not a reflection of your abilities or performance. Cite your achievements with pride and back them up with quantifiable results.

  3. Be positive about your previous employer. Any reference to your last employer should be in the context of being thankful for what you learned and achieved there. Negative talk will only reflect badly on you and set a pessimistic tone for the interview.

  4. Highlight your achievements since being out of work. Upskilling, attending webinars, reading books and listening to podcasts all demonstrate that you are proactive with your time and take your development seriously. Make it clear that the way in which you’ve used your time since leaving your last job makes you a strong candidate for the position.

Go into 2021 with a positive mindset

Ultimately, the best thing to do is to view your redundancy as an opportunity for positive change and growth. Perhaps you now have a chance to step back, review your career options and refresh your strategy for going forward.

My final piece of advice is to remember that there are many others in the same boat. Get support from those in the same position as well as your recruiter, your mentor and your friends and family – this will help you stay positive as we go into the New Year.

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