Career

How To Make A Redundancy Work To Your Advantage

Has your employer just broken up with you? Are you worried that you’ll never find job love again? Think that you’ll carry around the baggage of this redundancy like a bad breakup that you just can’t get past? Here’s how to not be a jilted lover after your redundancy, and how to use that redundancy to be bigger and better than ever.

For a select few, it’s a huge relief and a trip to Hawaii, but for most, it’s a crushing slap-in-the-face, and that is: a redundancy. And really, who wouldn’t be heartbroken? Your employer literally wants to pay you to no longer do your job. Ouch.

If you’ve been made redundant, the last thing you’ll probably care about is the statistics, but take solace in the fact that you’re not alone – in any given year, approximately 400,000 Australians are retrenched. And if you’ve escaped the not-so-fortunate tap on the shoulder, the bad news is that it could be coming for you, and soon – economists estimate that up to 40% of Australian jobs could be replaced by technology by 2025.

So when the inevitable happens, just what are you to do? While it’s easy to feel like your career (and life) is in tatters after a redundancy, you’ll be surprised – and glad – to know that it’s possible to use a redundancy to your advantage. Here’s how:

When they tell you it’s over…

The redundancy announcement, A.K.A the time where your employer crushes your heart into a million pieces, is inevitably going to be painful. It will be especially painful if you’re required to work a notice period, which can be just as much fun as living with someone you’ve just broken up with – i.e. excruciating.

If you’ve had an inkling that your redundancy was coming, you might have had time to prepare a composed response. If not, there’s a chance you’ll erupt into spontaneous emotional combustion.

If you fear that will be you, then it’s important to prevent any potential word vomit (Why me? How am I going to pay my mortgage? BUT YOU SAID I WAS A GOOD PERFOMER?!?) by requesting a breather. Saying something along the lines of ‘Thank you, would you mind if I grabbed a quick coffee and then we can reconvene this meeting?’ should do the trick, as you’ll be able to buy yourself enough time to process your emotions and make a list of things you’ll need to know.

When you head back in, make sure you come armed with a question checklist. Usually HR will have prepared everything for you, but just in case, you’ll need to know the following:

  • How long is my notice period?
  • Am I required to work my notice period?
  • Am I eligible for a redundancy package?
  • Could you please arrange for someone to send me a breakdown of my redundancy package?
  • Could I please grab written confirmation of my redundancy?

If you aren’t sure about any of the above, make sure you check out the Fair Work resources.

Once you have your answers, close the meeting ASAP. As much as it isn’t about the ‘feelings’ of your manager or the HR rep who had to break the news to you, it most certainly won’t be their favourite thing to do, and they’ll appreciate you being professional and keeping it brief. While you might not care about this now, it could be important in the future – when the chopping block is coming down, you never know who might be next and whomever broke your heart today could be hiring you again soon.

The mourning period

Applying for every single job on every single job board is a bit like swiping right to everyone you see on Tinder – feels likes you’re increasing your chances, but you’re unlikely to be any closer to true love at the end. So instead of taking this approach, take some time to relax, reconsider and strategize your next move.

By doing this, you’ll really be able to use your redundancy to your advantage. If all goes to plan, hopefully your next job will be a ‘career move’ instead of a ‘desperation job.’

Here’s the thing: Your employer is only required to tell you (and prove) that your job was no longer required to be done by anyone for your redundancy to be considered genuine. But often, there’s more to the story than just no longer needing you, and the period post-redundancy is a great time to reflect on that.

Questions that you need to ask yourself include: Was it just my organisation shrinking, or is there a wider problem with the industry? What are the medium to long term prospects in my profession? How would I rate my overall performance in my last role?

With the last question, while redundancy is not supposed to be performance-driven, if you’re the sole recipient of a redundancy in an otherwise-healthy organisation – let’s just say that from a HR perspective, making someone redundant is easier (and nicer) than trying to fire someone. If this is your situation, then, you may have some reflecting to do on your skillset and effectiveness.

Otherwise, it’s time to make a strategic plan for your future. If your industry is shrinking, think about entering a new one, and likewise, if your profession is disappearing or likely to be replaced by technology, considering changing course altogether.

Once you’ve got created some clear goals and a plan on how to reach them, then and only then should you start applying for new jobs.

On not trash-talking your ex…

For the fearless (or debtless) amongst us, a period of not working sounds like a holiday. For the rest of us, it nail-bitingly stressful. But the most important thing to do when you’re applying for jobs and starting to attend interviews is to not let that stress own you.

But what does that mean? Basically, when you’re at home twiddling your thumbs, you have a lot of time to think. And I mean, A LOT. Too much. It’s possible to go crazy and get desperate in less than a week. It’s also possible to want to blame someone for your situation, and that someone is usually your past employer.

When you’re thinking about something all the time, you want to talk about it. It’s just what us humans do. So it’s very likely that the very word vomit you so carefully prevented in your redundancy break-up will come spewing forth in a job interview. And it won’t be pretty. Kind of like trashing your ex on a first date…

And if you do that, you’ll render yourself unemployable. Think about it. Who would want to hire someone that incessantly bad-mouths their past employer?

It’s perfectly acceptable (and indeed, expected) that you’ll be straight up about your redundancy in an interview. But all that is required is a ‘My role was no longer required with XYZ.’ There’s no need to expand on said explanation by talking negatively about any aspect of your past employment. In fact, if you’re able to explain the whole scenario in a positive light (for example, ‘I was made redundant from A industry, which motivated me to reflect and now I’m joining B industry, because I’ve done my research and realised it’s growing exponentially), you’ll impress whoever’s interviewing you with your resilience and insights, and get yourself one step closer to job love again!

So go forth with that job broken heart, and turn it into your biggest opportunity yet!


Teigan Margetts is a freelance writer and content producer from Melbourne.  She writes stuff for startups that helps them grow.  She also loves coffee, dogs and Sweden.  If you like these things too, feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.