Redundancy can be deemed as one of the most stressful experiences you may face in you working life. It may come as a complete surprise or you may have had that sinking feeling for a while.  Quite often you have seen several rounds of redundancy hit the organisation before the axe falls on your role. None of this means you will feel prepared when the news gets broken to you.

Over the years my clients have tended to react in one of two ways; firstly complete shock and disbelief. The company they have worked tirelessly for over the years suddenly casts them aside. Have they done something wrong, why them and not someone else? The second response is one of relief, they’ve known they should have moved on long ago and this gives them just the push they needed.

These two responses are assuming that the company has carried out a fair process. The worrying thing is that employers still get it wrong, don’t follow process, choose an unfair reason to select you over a colleague. These reasons are becoming more and more complicated with increasing employment legislation. There are people on your side, Solicitors and Trade Unions working hard to resolve these disputes for those who have been treated unfairly.

What should do you do if you are made redundant?

1. Keep Calm

The redundancy process does not happen overnight so keep a clear head and make a list of priorities and questions you need answering. Avoid knee jerk reactions and emotional outbursts.  It is common to feel anger and a sense of panic, neither of these will help you in the long term. Redundancy has touched the lives of many people during this recession, talk to those closest to you. Remember the consultation process should not be about a decision that has already been made. There are still options.

2. Understand your rights

There are a number of people who can help you if you don’t feel the process has been treated fairly. The ACAS website provides information on your rights. An Employment Solicitors often provide a free initial consultation to explore your situation or advise on a compromise agreement. Your company may also have a written policy, this alongside your contract will help you understand the exit conditions and notice periods.

3. Negotiate with your employer

If you are made redundant then be prepared to ask for more than the offer you are given. You may ask to keep the company car, funding for re-training, an enhanced lump sum and outplacement support.

4. Know it’s not personal

It is an emotional time and very easy to take the decision personally. Think what you would do if you were making the decision. Was there another alternative? If you challenge the decision then keep focused on facts. How was the process carried out? Don’t blame a person, personality should not come into it. How are you going to talk about redundancy in an interview situation? You must keep positive. Keep relationships positive where possible. It’s not uncommon for someone who has been made redundant to be hired back on a consultancy basis. Your boss may also be able to improve your network or provide a great reference!

5. Get advice on your job search

The job market may have changed since you last looked for work. Seeking support from a professional outplacement company or career coach can help you identify what positive steps you can take to improve your chances in the job search roller coaster. Some companies will provide support for you; if not then consider investing in yourself.

6. Plan your job search strategy

You have to present yourself as the best candidate you can be. A high quality CV, a new suit, all of these things can make the process easier and improve your confidence.  Plan your days as if you were still working, set objectives and targets. Do remember sitting in front of a PC does not mean you are effectively job searching.

7.  Be Positive

Redundancy often turns out to be a positive thing, a chance to re-evaluate your career and perhaps go for what you really want. This might be the time to do the project you have always wanted to. Do get straight back into the job search as it can take several months to secure the right position. There are still lots of opportunities being created and people securing jobs.