6 stage plan to cope with redundancy


Once you understand and deal with your redundancy, you can move onto the exciting part of evaluating your options and researching employers.

However, before you do this, it is important to reflect and consider what has happened. This article provides you with a six stage plan to help you deal with your redundancy.

Stage 1: You are in good company

Remember redundancy is not personal: you’re not the first person to be made redundant and you certainly won’t be the last.

Most employees now face redundancy at least once in their lifetime. Whilst at the time it may feel like a major problem and knock to your confidence, it is also a great opportunity for change, growth and to refocus on the things that are important to you.

Attitudes towards redundancy have changed: recruiters and employers are unlikely to regard redundancy as a negative factor when considering you for a position. During an interview, however, they will usually ask you to explain what happened. This is why it is important for you to understand the full reasons behind your redundancy.

Stage 2: Reasons for your redundancy

The most common reasons for redundancy are as follows:

  • The company has been taken over
  • Another company has merged with yours
  • The company is moving offices or moving abroad
  • The company has become insolvent and is closing down
  • Your job no longer exists due to new technology or outsourcing
  • Management is looking to cut staff costs due to the economic climate
  • Poor management decisions have been made
  • The company’s profits have been falling
  • There has been increased competition

Most redundancies involve extenuating circumstances that are beyond your control.

Stage 3: Emotions and redundancy

Typically you will feel a range of emotions and go through various stages until you are able to move forward. They usually happen in this order:

  1. Shock: You can’t really process what’s happening.
  2. Denial: You’re thinking, "This isn't (or can't) be happening to me!" 
  3. Anger/Resistance: “Why did this have to happen to me?" 
  4. Acceptance: " I have to deal with this, I might as well get on with it" 
  5. Exploration and Challenges: “What can I learn, what could I do?”

Be comforted by the fact that most people go through these emotions, but the timeframe for each stage can be very different from person to person. It’s useful to understand the emotional process you’re going through so you can plan accordingly: you don’t want to go to interviews when you are frustrated and angry. 

You need to recognise redundancy as both a challenge and an opportunity; remaining positive and acting with dignity and professionalism will keep your head clear and give you the perspective you need to move forwards.

Stage 4: Practical steps

Despite your emotional state at this time, there are practical steps to take and things to consider:

  • Read through your rights
  • Discuss any issues openly with your employer
  • Don’t sign anything until it has been checked by a union or an employment law solicitor
  • Be aware of time limits

Stage 5: The reality of job hunting

Finding a job usually takes longer than expected and you need to be focussed throughout the whole process. Don’t panic and start flooding the market with your CV and registering on every job board. It is very important to take time to reflect and to resist the temptation to apply for jobs that you can do rather than jobs that you want.

If you use your time productively this can be a fantastic opportunity to fulfil your potential: take the time to re-evaluate your options, build on your skill-set, change careers, train, retire, study, start a new business and realise all your ambitions. Ultimately, overcoming the obstacles of redundancy can make you more determined, improve your self-esteem and boost your confidence.

Use all the good advice available and get started. A sensible programme to follow is:

  • Understand your strengths and preferences. How do your strengths compare to your preferences?
  • List your options. Research each one thoroughly
  • Assess and improve your skill set. Look at the gaps in your skill set. How do you close the gap? 
  • Compose a targeted CV and cover letter. Learn how to construct an effective CV; take time to find out what employers really want and then update your CV. Remember to highlight your achievements.
  • Actively network with past contacts, colleagues, family and friends: 70% of recruitment results from networking. Get over any fear or hatred you have of networking: the more you do it the better you’ll get and it’ll give you the step up you need.
  • Consultants and Job Boards - Shortlist and contact relevant recruitment consultants and register on appropriate job boards.
  • Shortlist and speculatively approach companies. Take time to carefully target companies, rather than just searching for jobs. Most of us spend longer researching our next holiday than our next career move!

Stage 6: Managing your exit

Wherever possible be positive and maintain good relationships with colleagues. At some point in the future you may require a reference.

People also change jobs regularly nowadays and you may find a colleague or ex-manager interviews you a few years down the line at another company. Do not burn your bridges! This applies when going through the entire job-hunting process: Do not speak negatively about your ex-employer, the company or an individual. Look for a positive story and tell it, keep telling it until you believe it.

Reminders of tasks to complete before you leave:

  1. Collect your P45 from your finance or HR department.
  2. Obtain a written confirmation of your redundancy package.
  3. Resolve any outstanding pay.
  4. Claim any outstanding benefits.
  5. Get the contact details of: 
    1. your line manager
    2. your trade union representative
    3. your HR department
    4. the person in charge of the company’s health insurance policy
    5. your pension fund trustees
  6. Get your compromise agreement (if you have one) signed by a solicitor. Your company may recommend a firm and must organise reimbursement.

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