Redundant need not mean obsolete if managed calmly
REDUNDANT isn’t the kindest of words. Synonymous with unwanted, inessential and obsolete, a redundant employee can be forgiven for feeling negative. Redundancy itself is often just the terminal act of a long played-out drama, the culmination of months of anxiety as the final curtain falls. But such understandable feelings need not reflect impending disaster. A redundant employee can fight again.
Redundancy, after all, is just a process, and a process that can be managed – in the closing stages of the previous job and when searching for a replacement. Such management requires strategy and, above all, calm. How should an employee deal with the final stages of his or her former employment? How can they position themselves best to effectively and efficiently find a new job? And finally, are there any alternatives?
THE FINER POINTS OF LAW
Ending employment is firstly a legal process. Alex Kleanthous and Deborah Casale are partners at Gannons Solicitors, specialists in dismissals and redundancy. As a compromise agreement is required as part of any redundancy, they recommend seeking advice early. “The employee should contact a solicitor, as soon as possible, to find out whether a fair process has taken place.”
Kleanthous and Casale say it’s important to “engage with internal processes and be as cooperative as possible,” but also to “question the process where necessary.” Employers can make mistakes and “severance payments can usually be negotiated.” This money isn’t just desirable for being money. It may prove crucial padding during a job hiatus.
Employees shouldn’t worry unduly about redundancy harming future job prospects. Kleanthous and Casale think “any stigma relating to redundancy is now much reduced, especially if you can show you were part of a team that was axed.” Although “employers are usually more turned off by any dispute with a previous firm than the fact of redundancy,” a well-drafted compromise agreement should ensure that the employee is able to discuss openly reasons behind any disagreement.
MOVING OUT, MOVING UP
Once you’re out, Fiona Mildner, senior consultant at Morgan McKinley Accounting & Finance, says it’s important to remain positive. It can be an “opportunity for career development” if played right. If you use your time wisely, you should be able to keep on top of market developments, network efficiently, and find a well-suited new position. But, “it’s also important to be realistic.”
Mildner recommends highlighting to potential new employers “the opportunity redundancy has given you to assess where your career is going and what you want to achieve in the future.” It should be a time of reflection, not panic, a chance to reassess and return to the core priorities of what you want from work.
Such reflection should prevent your applications from appearing like desperate attempts to find work, any work. “It’s important to demonstrate to potential employers the thought process that you’ve been through about your career and why the role matches your ambitions and skills.” This could be about finding new applications for your skills and experience (showing they are not obsolete), or about discovering and honing key strengths.
BROADEN THE NET
There are also alternatives. Raj Tulsiani, chief executive and co-founder of Green Park Interim and Executive Search, says that in downturns “those displaced from their permanent roles will look at new things.” Interim management is one of these. For an experienced executive, who is “comfortable with uncertainty and the sort of person who can create change,” an interim management position may be a lucrative alternative to a permanent job. Interims enter a company, perform a specific function, and then move on to another role. Pay can be excellent.
But it’s not for everyone. Tulsiani characterises the career move as like setting up a business – “candidates must have an idea of what their product is, and how they will sell their product.” But for those who have retained an appetite for risk and are confident in their ability, interim management is an alternative worth considering.
Above all, it’s important to realise that there are always opportunities and jobs out there for the ambitious, skilled and capable. A seemingly comatose expertise can be revived, a tired CV refreshed. Redundancy is not obsolescence.