returning to work after redundancy q and a.

adrian leatherhead, head of business development tells his story.

What was your job before you had time off?

I was a company director with profit and loss responsibility for three business units.

For what reason were you out of work? (Tell us a bit about what happened)

A new CEO was brought in to take the company to sale. He consolidated the two training parts of the group - one of which was the BUs I was managing - and so my role became redundant.

How long were you off for?

About 3 months. During that time off I realised that I really missed team working and being part of an organisation. But I definitely didn't miss the stress that the CEO had put me under!

Why did you return to work and why was it important to do so?

I was recruited to work as head of aerospace business development for a recruitment company. To be honest, I returned to work because I am the main earner in my household. At the time my wife was working part-time and my daughter was at university so although I had some savings and a six month notice period, it was important to get back to work as soon as possible.

Was it easy to find a job?

No, it wasn’t easy at all. Being over 50 and with a fairly specialised role made the process quite daunting. I made getting a job a "job" in itself. I even gave myself performance goals and worked towards a KPI of applying for a job every day! I applied my knowledge and experience of being a sales professional to use similar techniques I order to sell myself, both to employers and to recruitment companies.

How did you explain your absence? Did you find it difficult?

No, I didn’t find it difficult at all - I told everyone the truth of what had happened.

What were the challenges of returning to work?

I guess the biggest challenge was that I worked for the company that made me redundant for 19 years – that’s a long time. I had played a big part in most of the expansion activities that the company had undergone over that period, so I was a well known figure in the business.

Joining a new company meant making new contacts and having to understand the internal politics from scratch. I worked mostly from home so that made it easier in some ways, but that meant that I never really felt like part of the team.

How did your employer make your return easier?

They gave me all the equipment I needed; car, laptop, phone etc and introduced me to all the key players. I was also part of the senior management team so I attended regular monthly meetings too.

What advice would you give to someone in a similar position to yours who wants to return to work after redundancy?

If you are in a senior position and are made redundant I would advise the following:

  • Don't panic!
  • Don't expect work to come to you - it won't.
  • Make getting a job - your new job. Set up a work space in your home and make it your office.
  • Get your CV in order, set up your references and make sure you have copies of any certificates.
  • Set yourself KPIs in terms of how many applications you will send out in a day.
  • Decide what you are, what role suits you best - it might not be what you last did. Put yourself forward for new jobs as well.
  • Be realistic in your salary expectations - if you need to move quickly you might need to set a lower level than your last role to get back into work.
  • Don't expect to get a job quickly, it might take a while so the sooner you start looking the better.
  • Make sure your Linkedin profile is up to date, and change your headline so that companies know you are looking for a new role.
  • Actively contribute to industry discussions on Linkedin and other forums to boost your profile. If the opportunity presents itself, write blogs and/or articles that are relevant to your sector.
  • Register your CV with job boards that cover your specialist area.
  • Utilise your professional network - where appropriate message friends and contacts to see where there might be new roles that might suit you.
  • Register with recruitment companies that specialise in your skills - be proactive with them on any role they put your forward for.

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