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How to explain your redundancy in a positive and professional way

By Gaelle Blake, Director, Hays Permanent Appointments, UK and Ireland

Redundancy has swept across our world of work throughout this year. Drastic budget cuts have been the painful reality for many organisations as a result of the pandemic, leaving those on the receiving end in need of work and potentially unsure about their careers.

For the many in this position, it may feel as though the future of your career is uncertain. Addressing your redundancy on your CV and in job interviews when the time comes might also be weighing on your mind.

Losing the stigma around redundancy

If you are worried about how your redundancy may impact your career prospects, your first step needs to be realising that this is not the case. Making someone redundant is due to commercial reasons and never a reflection of the individual, their skills or their value. Employers also know better than anyone that this decision is never an easy one to make. They are rarely sceptical of a candidate who has experienced a redundancy.

There are therefore no grounds for feeling ashamed or embarrassed about being made redundant, or worry over how this might impact your future career. 

Having said this, you will inevitably need to address this when applying for a new role. Here is some guidance on how to do this professionally and positively.

Getting it right on your CV

  • Be clear about your dates of employment. Include both the month and year of your start and end dates for your last period of employment. Being transparent is the best course of action and avoids any confusion or suspicion on the employer’s part.
  • Address your redundancy and the context. Briefly explain that you were made redundant in the context of the broader organisational or economic situation. You could write, for example: “My role was made redundant due to the impact of Covid-19 on my employer’s industry.” Keep it brief – you want to save space for selling your skills and experience.
  • Highlight your most recent achievements. Once you’ve mentioned your redundancy, your focus should move to your recent achievements in your last role. As well as more formal achievements, refer to any projects you worked on that you are proud of, whether you managed to complete these before leaving or not.
  • Include any accomplishments since being out of work. If you have proactively filled your time with something which might give you an edge above other candidates, mention it in your CV. Examples could include taking an online course, learning a new skill or completing voluntary work.

Talking about redundancy in an interview

Your redundancy will most likely be brought up in an interview, so here’s some guidance on how to go about it:

  • Explain the wider context. Elaborate on what you put in your CV by explaining more thoroughly your organisation’s situation and the challenges it was facing which led to your redundancy.
  • Be proud about your last role. Your accomplishments in your last job are no less valid due to your redundancy – which as we established, is not a reflection of your abilities or performance. Cite your achievements with confidence and back them up with quantifiable results.
  • Be positive about your previous employer. Talking negatively about your previous employer will only reflect badly on you. Any reference to the manager or organisation that made you redundant should be in the context of being thankful for your time, learning and achievements there.
  • Discuss your time being redundant. Again, elaborate on what you put on your CV. Have you been upskilling or attending webinars? What about reading papers and books on your industry? Make it clear that the way in which you’ve used your time since leaving your last job makes you an even stronger potential employee for this position.

Have a look at a model answer if you need some help getting started on your interview preparation:

“As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, my previous employer had to make a number of budget cuts. As a result, my role and a number of others were made redundant. I’m proud of what I managed to achieve in my last role, like expanding our client list, building a new process and upskilling in a number of areas.  

I’ve made use of my time since being made redundant by taking a number of online courses to expand my skills. I’ve also proactively kept up with changes and developments in the industry so I’m able to hit the ground running in a new role.”

Redundancy as an opportunity for growth

Once you’ve come to terms with having been made redundant, try and view your redundancy as an opportunity for positive change and growth. It could be a valuable chance to step back, reflect on your career thus far and consider the best strategy for going forward.

Finally, don’t forget that you aren’t alone and that many others are in the same boat. Get support from your recruiter, your mentor and your friends and family who will help you keep positive and make your next step.

If you’re considering your next step, get in contact with one of our expert recruitment consultants for a confidential chat about the career options available to you, or to access a host of resources for helping you adapt to the new way of working, visit our Inspire Me in the New Era of Work Hub. As your lifelong career partner, we are with you every step of the way and will be updating this site regularly with new guides, blogs and information to support you.

About this author

Gaelle joined Hays in 1999, and in her time with the business, she has led dedicated teams providing expert recruitment services for a wide range of sectors and professions. In 2018, Gaelle started her current role as UK&I Director of Hays Permanent Appointments, where she works with 800 Permanent Appointments consultants across the UK and Ireland. She helps organisations to find the talent they need to achieve their goals, and help customers to find the roles they need to move their careers forwards. In July 2020, Gaelle was also appointed as UKI Director of Hays Construction & Property, leading the 300+ recruitment consultants in the largest specialist Construction & Property recruiter in the UK.

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