The news that UK construction and services giant Carillion has gone into liquidation is sending shockwaves across Britain at the moment.
The jobs of more than 20,000 employees here are now at risk, with another 23,000 overseas jobs in jeopardy. Then there are the thousands more employed by firms tied to Carillion as sub-contractors or suppliers.
Many will be anxious about the future right now. And even if the Carillion news doesn’t affect you directly, redundancy now seems to be a fact of life at some point in most people’s careers.
But more often than not, opportunities emerge from these trying times. Just remember the mantra - ‘as one door closes, another opens’.
An upside to consider is that January is one of the best times of year to get a new job, as companies have fresh budgets and new targets to hit, meaning recruitment is top of their agendas.
A recent study found 50% of UK companies are looking to hire new staff this year and they’re even looking to increase wages as they’re struggling to fill roles as Brexit bites.
So, what can you do if you’re made redundant?
First things first - stay calm and positive and don’t take it personally. Try and avoid appointing blame to any individuals – you’ll probably need a reference and you may well end up working with former colleagues in the future, so stay professional to avoid any future awkwardness.
Write a list
Next, make a ‘to do’ list. This helps you to stay focused on your future and allays feelings of fear, panic or worthlessness because you’re doing something positive.
Pick your CV apart
First on your to do list is taking a long, hard, critical look at your CV.
Make a list of all the achievements and outcomes you’re most proud of, both professional and personal. Think of concrete, measurable examples of results you’ve achieved, for example, any changes you made that boosted the bottom line or the firm’s productivity, or where you saved any budget. Make it exhaustive – then leave it for 24 hours. It’s going to be a long list, but when you revisit it the next day, you may well think of even more examples. You can then edit it down to all results that are CV-worthy.
Hopefully, a careful study of your CV and work history will remind you of statistics or examples you’ve forgotten – and remind you of the great things you’ve achieved so far.
Rewrite your CV
This is essential, and I always advise tweaking your CV for each job application as each employer’s needs will be different.
It’s no use nowadays just listing a chronological list of roles and responsibilities – you have to demonstrate how you have added value and the value you will offer new employers.
Keep it to no more than two pages and include plenty of keywords relevant to the role in question so it gets past the Applicant Tracking Systems software that 90% of recruiters use.
Bullet point your achievements and stuff them with keywords too. Mentioning clients and projects won, initiatives, efficiencies, savings and profits will get you noticed.
Sell yourself on social
Being on LinkedIn is vital – it’s the biggest business network in the world with more than 500million users, 10million jobs advertised and it’s thought up to 97% recruiters use it as part of their hiring procedure. Facebook and Twitter can also be useful on your job hunt. Make sure your profiles are-to-date, well-managed and professional with a professional-looking profile picture. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is 100% complete and really sell yourself in your 120 character headline, including your target role with a 'currently seeking' reference so recruiters can find you.
January is also a good time to join (or re-join) relevant professional associations or networking groups. It’s a great idea to use these groups to connect with like-minded people and discover potential job vacancies or learning opportunities.
Create a killer cover letter
It’s worth putting together a generic cover letter that, as with your CV, needs to be tweaked for each application. Remember, recruiters are very time poor, so try and condense your motivations, ambitions and why you are perfect for the role into a maximum of four paragraphs, and finish with a call to action and the best way to contact you. Send out as many speculative cover letters as possible, targeting companies you wish to work for.
Join all relevant job sites
Recruiters search job boards 24/7 to find the best candidates so make sure you register with all the most relevant ones with your new, slick CV.
If you get an interview and you're asked about your redundancy, don’t come across like a victim. Say that it was a difficult business decision and stay professional and positive.
Practice answers to predictable questions in advance and role play with a friend if possible, so you know your key selling points and strengths with all the stats and examples to back them up off by heart.
Don’t panic. Redundancy can happen to the best of us. Stay focused, calm and determined, and you might land an even better job in 2018 - and triumph over adversity…