Be positive about redundancy

The contractor's lifestyle has valuable lessons on making the most of downtime

Every time contractors finish a contract, they’re essentially redundant. They’ve finished their job and they may not know what’s around the corner. But, says Ron Hunter, director of recruitment firm Mercury Consulting Group, they don’t give up. "They go and find the next job. Why can’t people in the permanent world think in that manner?" For most people redundancy comes as a shock — probably because, unlike contractors, permanent staff aren’t expecting their tenure to come to an end. But redundancy is, unfortunately, a fact of working life. I suspect everyone has either been through it or knows someone who has. When made redundant, Hunter says the main thing is to pick yourself up and do something about your circumstances. Don’t sit around on the beach waiting for the ship out on the horizon to come into port. Get in your boat and row out to it, he says. Many people come out of redundancy better off, says Hunter, and he questions why any job should last more than three or four years anyway. "Are you not more ambitious? Do you not want to leverage off what you’ve learned to take another opportunity to further develop your career?" Before you start on your new job search, you need to look at the roles you’ve had and analyse what skills and experience you’ve gained, Hunter says. Once you assess the elements of your past roles, Hunter then advises to look at how much you enjoyed them. "If you’re going to look for a job, why look for any job other than the one you’re most going to enjoy?" You may discover your skills aren’t needed in the industry and in that case you could spend some of your redundancy money on retraining. You may need to seek some professional career advice before you go any further, to find out what you need to do to make yourself marketable. Sometimes the company making you redundant will provide you with resources to do this — but it will depend on your position and the company. Hunter says a lot of people are too proud to accept such help – or to ask for advice if it’s not offered. Once you’re reading to start applying for jobs, do you talk about redundancy in your CV or application letter? Hunter says if it could be seen as a negative why mention it? If a potential employer has a pile of CVs, he or she will be wanting to whittle them down to a smaller number. If, says Hunter, you offer him or her a potential negative in your CV, the CV is unlikely to reach the "yes" pile. Wait until you get to the interview stage before you mention it and then don’t just say: "I was made redundant". Explain that the company decided at a strategic level that redundancies needed to be made, or that the decision was made offshore, due to financial pressures at a corporate level (assuming such descriptions are accurate). "Take it way away from you," says Hunter. He advises not to sell yourself short, and to really think about how you give value to an employer. His main message to people made redundant is: "Be positive. It’s not the end of the world." And don’t think you’re the only one. "They have to realise that this is not peculiar to them. This has happened to thousands of people over many years." Have you had an experience with redundancy? How did you cope with it. Email me at the address below if you have a story to share. Mills is Computerworld’s careers editor and can be contacted at or ph: 03-467-2869 or fax: 0-3-467 2875.

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