Redundancies, while challenging are unfortunately a fact of life within the job market – especially during turbulent times both politically and economically. At the beginning of the pandemic last year, redundancies across the globe skyrocketed. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics At the height of lockdown last year 594,300 people lost their jobs in April and another 227,700 jobs were last in May (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020). And even before the pandemic, the online marketplace Seek revealed that 38% of people have been made redundant at some point in their career (Seek, 2019). While redundancies can be a blow to your self-confidence and bring with them high levels of uncertainty, they can also provide a chance to pursue new opportunities or explore career options you've always been curious about. For those who've recently experienced a redundancy, Design & Build have collated some advice to help you navigate through the process and figure out your next move in your career journey:
Redundancy is an opportune time to reflect – on what you liked about the role and industry you were in and what you didn’t. It can be tempting to rush into looking for new jobs once being made redundant but it's important to firstly consider what you actually want from your next role, in order to ensure the job you eventually land is one you'll be happy in. Another key consideration before implementing your career plan is thinking about the longevity of your particular role or industry. Professionals can be made redundant from similar roles two or three times in a row – not because of their skill or performance, but because their role has become obsolete. Consequently, it's advised to do some research into the latest technology and trends within your industry. For example, maybe there’s new software that's now being used in multiple organisations which is able to automate tasks that you’ve always performed in your previous role. If this is the case, it could be worth exploring new areas of your industry that are more in demand and require your skillset in order to future-proof your career. Even doing a general job search on Linkedin, Seek or other job sites will give you a good idea of the jobs that are most in-demand in your industry and have offers readily available to you.
Once you’ve assessed all these factors, you can then set out some key career goals for yourself – perhaps it’s to find a job where you have more opportunities for learning and development or lead a team. Once these goals have been established it then becomes easier to find the relevant and worthwhile roles.
Once you’ve taken stock of what you want out of your future role and established some career goals, it might become apparent that you need to upskill in order to achieve these goals. Especially if your goal is to work within an industry that is currently experiencing a lot of change or transformation like the use of Artificial Intelligence and Virtual and Augmented reality in Engineering, for example. To ensure you remain competitive within your industry, you can enrol in a number of courses (either online or in person) to expand or update your knowledge or skillset. Even generally, one of a job seeker’s best selling points is their skill base, so continuing to develop your knowledge during your unemployment is always going to help boost your marketability within the job market. Courses don’t even have to break the bank, as there is now a range of online courses that can be accessed for free or for low subscription fees online like TED Talks, Linkedin Learning or YouTube.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that you won’t be putting yourself at a disadvantage by mentioning your redundancy in your resume – especially after the year that was 2020. Businesses across the country suffered and organisations understand that being made redundant during last year and even after Australia’s most recent lockdowns, isn’t a reflection of your work ethic or skills, but of the unprecedented time we are living in. Ultimately, it’s important, to be honest, and upfront in disclosing your employment on your resume. If you have been made redundant over the last year, mention it on your resume rather than giving the impression you’re still working at your last place of employment. So make sure your contractual dates are updated. If you started at your most recent role in 2016 and were made redundant last year, list the end date to indicate to recruiters and professionals that you’re available and open to work. Underneath these contract dates, you can provide a brief explanation for leaving, to provide more context and prevent prospective employers from making their own assumptions as to why you’re no longer with that company. Especially if you had been at that company for a long time. Something simple like ‘Unfortunately in September 2020, myself and members of my finance team were made redundant due to a company merger’ would suffice.
Once you’ve mentioned the redundancy, you don’t need to dwell on it. Your focus with your resume should always be on how compatible you are for a particular role, so make sure to include all of the relevant skills and achievements you made while in the role. If you’ve achieved any significant projects before your redundancy you should list them or if you were responsible for managing a team etc. It can also be worthwhile to list any relevant activities you’ve achieved or commenced since your redundancy. This could include any freelance or part-time work, and professional development courses or certified training that you think showcases your skills and knowledge. Including these types of activities not only helps to boost your marketability to employers but also demonstrates a great initiative and work ethic- both traits that can help you to stand out from the crowd.
After being made redundant it’s important to make use of your network and reach out. Let your social and professional network know that you are looking for a new job on Linkedin, social media, by sending emails or even setting up a coffee date. Your contacts might not know personally of anyone hiring in their current organisation, but they might be able to put you in contact with someone who is, so it’s always worth utilising these connections. You can also attend networking events either online or in-person (if COVID restrictions allow) within your industry, to help expose you to more thought leaders and changemakers in your industry, who are in a great position to know of any current or upcoming opportunities within the market.
Finally, it’s always worth reaching out to a recruiter within your dedicated industry. By partnering with a recruiting expert you will not only have a person who knows and understands the job market and can help point you in the direction of opportunities that best fit with your career goals, but they become your advocate during the recruitment process and promote your experience and skill base to potential employees.
Job interviews can be overwhelming at the best of times, but when heading to a first job interview after a redundancy, the nerves can amplify. However, it’s important to remember that while your redundancy might feel like an elephant in the room to you, it’s not necessarily a red flag to potential employers. As mentioned previously, in the current economic climate, losing a job has no reflection on your skillset or ability and recruiters and HR professionals understand this better than anyone.
Rather than focusing on how to ‘broach’ or ‘cover’ a redundancy when going into an interview, the focus should be on what you have to offer; the experience and skillset that not only makes you an ideal candidate for the role but helps you to stand out from the competition.
As consulting firm McKinsey & Company advises if you’ve outlined your redundancy in your resume, there’s no real reason to bring up the topic in your interview however, you should prepare yourself to answer some further questions that could be asked about the redundancy.
If clarification on your redundancy is required, acknowledge that you were made redundant. If other roles were made redundant at the time, it’s important to mention this too, as well as the reason why; financial reasons, a merger, a relocation etc. Once you’ve confirmed the context surrounding your redundancy, it’s important to then highlight the supporting material that displays your value as an employee- reference checks, performance reviews and attendance records for example, that reinforce the fact your redundancy was in no way linked to your performance. You can then mention all the things you learnt, your understanding of the business and what you were able to achieve while at the company to highlight your positivity and resilience in the face of a challenging time; two things employers will value and appreciate.
Being made redundant can feel like a significant shock, and it’s a big change for anyone to experience. Taking back a sense of control is important, but don’t be too hard on yourself for taking time to grieve something you have lost or be discouraged when you don’t hear back from a job application. The important thing to remember is that while your job was made redundant, that doesn’t mean you were. As well as taking the time to work through the above steps when you feel ready, it’s also important to make sure you’re taking time each day to exercise, eat well and fit in something you enjoy – whether that be reading or watching a favourite TV show. Trying to remain positive and taking care of your mental health, as well as doing the necessary prep for your job search is the best strategy for success.
Design & Build specialise in helping candidates during their job-seeking process; assisting with resumes and providing advice and support during their job interviews. If you’ve found yourself searching for a new job - especially within the built environment industry - and are looking for advice on how to make an impact within the job market, you can reach out to our team of consultants at email@example.com
 Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2020). Coronavirus pandemic job losses from major Australian employers. ABC News. Retrieved from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-30/job-losses-coronavirus-australia-covid-19/12401232
 Seek. (2019). 7 Things To Do Straight After Redundancy. Seek. Retrieved from: https://www.seek.com.au/career-advice/article/have-you-been-made-redundant-heres-what-to-do-now