Being made redundant can be a challenging time for many people. The uncertainty it brings and the blow to your self-confidence can then make it difficult to feel ready and positive about re-entering the job market. Many can feel a stigma associated with redundancy; that potential employers screening your application will see your redundancy as a reflection of you and your work ethic. In reality, this is not the case.
Redundancy, though unpleasant is a normal part of recruitment, which HR professionals and recruiters understand. According to the marketplace website SEEK, more than one in four Australians (26%) have had their role made redundant at some point in their working lives (SEEK, 2018). Furthermore, more than half the population (58%) either know someone who has been through redundancy or have been themselves. It’s also important to note that these statistics were collected prior to March last year when due to the impact of the global pandemic, redundancies across the globe skyrocketed.
With the job market picking back up, many people are ready to put their redundancies behind them and start the search for an even better opportunity. However, in every job search, questions about your past work history are inevitable so when faced with these questions, what’s the best response? For those ready to start looking for work but unsure how to address their redundancy, Public Sector People advise the following:
Referring to your redundancy on your resume
It’s important to remember that you won’t be putting yourself at a disadvantage by mentioning your redundancy on your resume - especially after the year that was 2020. The pandemic significantly impacted Australia’s unemployment rate last year, which peaked at 7.5%
in July (Clayton, R & Pupazzoni, R., 2020). Businesses across the country suffered and organisations understand that being made redundant during this time, isn’t a reflection of your work ethic or skills, but of the unprecedented times we are living in. However, like in any stage of the recruitment process, it’s important to be honest and upfront in disclosing your employment in your resume. If you have been made redundant over the last year, mention it on your resume, rather than giving the impression you’re still working at your last place of employment. Otherwise, you have to explain the redundancy during the interview, which will come as a surprise to your interviewer and might raise questions about your honesty.
Instead, make sure the contractual job dates on your resume are up-to-date. If you started at your most recent role in 2016 and were then made redundant last year, list the end date to indicate to recruiters and HR professionals that you’re available and open to work. Underneath the contract dates, you can then provide a reason for leaving, to provide more context and prevent prospective employers from making their own assumptions as to why you’re no longer with a company- especially if you had been at that company for some time. Saying something short and simple will suffice- as you can go into more detail in your job interviews- but something like ‘unfortunately In September 2020 myself and members of my finance team was made redundant due to X’ ( a company relocation, a merger, the impact of COVID-19). This provides enough background context and indicates how significant the redundancy was (if it involved others).
Once you’ve mentioned the redundancy, you don’t need to dwell on it. Your focus with your resume should always be on how compatible you are for a particular role, so make sure to include all of the relevant skills and achievements you made while in the particular role. If you were able to achieve any significant projects before your redundancy you should list them or if you were responsible for managing a team etc. It can also be worthwhile to list any relevant activities you’ve achieved or commenced since your redundancy. This could include any freelance or part-time work, any professional development courses, or certified training that you think showcases your skills and knowledge. Including these types of activities not only helps to boost your marketability to employers but also demonstrates a great initiative and work ethic- both traits that can help you to stand out from the crowd.
Referring to your redundancy in a job interview
Job interviews can be overwhelming at the best of times, but when heading to a first job interview after a redundancy, the nerves can amplify. However, it’s important to remember that while your redundancy might feel like an elephant in the room to you, it’s not necessarily a red flag to potential employers. As mentioned previously, in the current economic climate, losing a job has no reflection on your skillset or ability and recruiters and HR professionals understand this better than anyone.
Rather than focusing on how to ‘broach’ or ‘cover’ a redundancy when going into an interview, the focus should be on what you have to offer; the experience and skillset that not only makes you an ideal candidate for the role but helps you to stand out from the competition.
As consulting firm McKinsey & Company advises, if you’ve outlined your redundancy in your resume, there’s no real reason to bring up the topic in your interview. However, you should prepare yourself to answer some further questions that could be asked about the redundancy (Beauchamp, R., Heidari -Robinson, S. & Heywood, S.2016). Consequently, in your interview prep- it is also important to prepare hypothetical answers on the context surrounding your redundancy.
If clarification on your redundancy is required, acknowledge that you were made redundant. If other roles were made redundant at the time, it’s important to mention this too, as well as the reason why; financial reasons, a merger, a relocation etc. Resume writer and job coach Karalyn
Brown says, once you’ve confirmed the context surrounding your redundancy, it’s important to then highlight the supporting material that displays your value as an employee-reference check, performance reviews and attendance records for example, that reinforce the fact your redundancy was in no way linked to your performance (Smith, 2016). She then suggests mentioning all the things you learnt, your understanding of the business and what you were able to achieve while at the company to highlight your positivity and resilience in the face of a challenging time; two things employers will value and appreciate.
Ultimately, before heading into any interview it’s important to remember that while your job may have been made redundant, that doesn’t mean that you were. Going into an interview armed with confidence, honesty and positivity, as well as in-depth interview prep- will be your best strategy for success.
Public Sector People specialise in helping candidates during their job-seeking process; assisting with resumes and providing advice and support during their job interview. If you’ve found yourself searching for a new job within the public sector and looking for advice on how to make an impact within the job market, you can reach out to our team of consultants at email@example.com
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 SEEK. (2018). The Honest Truth About Redundancy. SEEK. Retrieved from: https://www.seek.com.au/career-advice/article/honest-truth-about-redundancy
 Clayton, R & Pupazzoni, R. (2020). Unemployment drops to 6.8pc, with 90,000 people starting work in November. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-17/unemployment-jobs-underemployment-november-abs/12989160
 Beauchamp, R., Heidari -Robinson, S. & Heywood, S. (2016). Reorganisation Without Tears. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/reorganization-without-tears
 Smith, F. (2016). These 5 Fatal Resume Mistakes Could Cost You A Job. WYZA. Retrieved from: https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/work/employment/these-5-fatal-resume-mistakes-could-cost-you-a-job