Redundancy used to be a word reserved for our parents. A big, scary, looming word that you knew was bad but that wasn’t your problem- until you were at least maybe 40 and knew how to cope with it. Unfortunately most challenges don’t arrive when we’re ready and as technology improves and the job market continues to struggle, redundancy is becoming an increasingly familiar concept for women in our generation.
I was hit by redundancy a month into a brand new job, in the first full-time role I had out of university and it completely floored me. There are women I know that have been made redundant more than once before they hit 25 and others that feel like it is a constant spectre hanging over them. If redundancy is on the horizon for you here are my five top tips to get you through it:
1. Get educated
This is the big one. Most people don’t imagine they will be made redundant when they accept the offer on their exciting new job and so they have no idea what their legal rights are. This was me, a year ago and I quickly had to school myself on what money and notice I was owed by the company I was working for. Both of these variables are based on the length of time for which you have worked for the company. It’s worth visiting www.gov.uk as it provides the statutory minimum notice period and a calculator for working out how much money you are owed based on your age and length of employment.
You are also entitled to a consultation period; this varies in length depending on the number of people being made redundant in your company. It is an opportunity for your company to explain the redundancy to you and for both parties to consider alternatives to your dismissal. It sounds complicated but once you have the right information you can be confident when liaising with your employer.
2. Sort out your finances
Perhaps you have thousands of pounds saved in the bank, or generous parents who don’t mind helping you out, but you could also be scraping through to the end of each month in your overdraft. Either way it’s important to be really, painfully honest with yourself about what not having a job in the immediate future means for you. For me it meant I wasn’t sure if I could pay my rent, so I gave my landlord my notice and sofa-surfed for a few weeks. Work out what you need to do and where you need to be to make this work for you.
Remember that the UK has a brilliant benefit system created for situations just like this, apply for Job Seekers Allowance as soon as possible (as it can take a while to get sorted) if you need some cash to see you through.
3. Secure a written reference
References are always important and very often a sudden departure from a position looks suspicious to a new employer. It can be difficult to pin down line managers and heads of department if redundancies are company-wide so make sure you request a written reference from your HR team. It should state that you were made redundant through no fault of your own and comment on your performance up until that point. You can take this letter to interviews in the coming weeks to ensure them you are reliable and great at your job.
4. Start job hunting
When you’re comfortable in a role or if you’ve just got a job you’re probably not thinking about your next move and you might not be ready to apply for new positions. Time is of the essence after a redundancy, you’ll need to update your LinkedIn profile and CV, tidy up your social media presence, get on recruitment sites and start reaching out to contacts you may have made in your industry. This may feel embarrassing or cheeky but this is one of the few situations in which people will really empathise with you and want to help so utilise every option you have.
5. Let yourself be sad
Getting motivated and staying focused during the post-redundancy period is key, but it’s also important to remember that something really crappy is happening to you. It’s likely that you worked really hard to secure a role and make it your own only to have it swiped out from under your feet. Take some time out to be disappointed and frustrated and have a good cry if needs be. Redundancy is one of those unexpected bumps in the road when you’ll need the support of good family and friends, and possibly a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio!
Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahKPower