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Introduction Redundancy - your next steps

Dealing with redundancy can be a real challenge, however it can also turn into a positive opportunity to make career changes. Whether it’s taking a career break or moving into a new career.

Listen to a short podcast series that talks you through coming to terms with redundancy. Giving you tips for rebuilding confidence after job loss, developing your skill set, utilising your experience and finding your next role.

Podcast 1 - One door closes

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Alex: [00:00:08] Hi and welcome to the first of three podcasts we've produced about redundancy. My name is Alex,

Dave: [00:00:13] and I'm Dave,

Alex: [00:00:15] and we're both careers and employability consultants with the Open University. In this series of podcasts, we'll cover how to prepare for redundancy and take time to consider its impact. In podcast 2 we'll move on to ideas of how we might reframe redundancy. Turning a negative into a positive with input from our employer engagement team and from people who've been there, done that and survived. In our final podcast in this series we'll explore searching for work and ways to increase your skill set. Today's podcast focuses on preparing for redundancy and acknowledging its impact. We're calling it 'one door closes'. So, Dave, do you think there might be ways that people can actually prepare for redundancy?

Dave: [00:00:55] Absolutely Alex. Preparing for redundancy is one way of taking control of a really uncertain situation. If you're at risk, then there's ways you can protect yourself by planning ahead. If you know you're going to be made redundant you may be entitled to time off work for interviews. Some firms may also help you finding a new job or perhaps a helpline to talk to someone about redundancy or other personal issues. I would strongly recommend investigating what options available to you provided by your employer as early as possible when learning you've been made redundant. Alex have you heard of ACAS? For any of our listeners who don't know, ACAS offer employees and employers free impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice.

Alex: [00:01:43] Yes, I had heard of ACAS, but I didn't realise they offer such a comprehensive range of resources, they're definitely worth checking out. Money worries are naturally a big issue when being made redundant too aren't they. Do you think you can prepare financially for redundancy?

Dave: [00:01:57] Yes, I do Alex. You can see that getting advice about any benefits you may be entitled to will help with debt management if you need it. Organisations such as the Money Advice Service can help you with creating a budget. Now money and mental health are often really closely linked. If you're worried about money it can make your mental health worse and it makes managing finances difficult in many ways is a vicious cycle. Now the Citizens Advice Service have a benefits checker on their website, and they can provide information and advice about ensuring you get all the money you're entitled to. We've got information about this on our coping with job loss web page.

Alex: [00:02:35] Yes, they're all really great practical steps aren't they Dave. I think it's also important to recognise the emotional impact of redundancy isn't it.

Dave: [00:02:43] Of course Alex, but it's also important to remember that some people possibly opt for voluntary redundancy. They might be planning early retirement or a work-life balance shift. We interviewed one such person, Paul, and he told us this.

Paul: [00:03:01] One of the reasons I applied for redundancy was to be able to visit my mother more. She lives 250 miles away and help her move into sheltered accommodation and I did both those things. I also used the opportunity to change my work-life balance generally as a redundancy package enabled me to work part-time. I gained some additional experience as well as working part-time and I also started volunteering at a local theatre which I'd wanted to do for a while.

Alex: [00:03:30] Yes, redundancy is a really personal experience isn't it. We've talked to people who've experienced redundancy and they shared the emotions that they felt at the time. These included firstly shock, feeling liberated and terrified at the same time, feeling scared and angry and maybe surprisingly some said they felt relief as if they'd been given the freedom to finally move on from a negative situation. The mental health charity Mind produced a step by step guide to support managing redundancy and taking care of your mental health, details of which will be on our web page. Let's take time now to explore this resource in a bit more depth. So do take stock of how you're feeling, as you've seen it's perfectly natural to feel a range of emotions. It's important to provide space for these feelings. If you have social support do use it. Express your feelings and let others know how redundancy might be impacting on you.

Dave: [00:04:28] Okay, so what about if you're supporting someone who's been made redundant? There are some great articles on the web that support the process and I particularly like an article by Celeste Headlee covering useful tips on when to listen and when to talk. This link is on our web page.

Alex: [00:04:46] That sounds really interesting Dave. I'll give that a read. It is important to recognise that redundancy can affect the whole family isn't it. Supporting someone who's been made redundant and despondent can be tough to. I think work provides many of us with a sense of identity. So, when that's taken from us it can actually have a big impact on our self-esteem. I would say try to be kind to yourself if you're in this position because it is a difficult time. Do things that make you happy too amongst all that job seeking and don't punish yourself. Remember it's your job that's been made redundant not you. It's also a time to perhaps reflect and take stock of what gives you happiness and fulfilment, perhaps writing a list of all the skills and qualities you have and take a moment to celebrate them. If you do need help with your mental health during this time you could use the A-Z of mental health on the Mind website to get you started.

Dave: [00:05:40] Those resources sound absolutely brilliant Alex. I do think one of the big things here is coping with uncertainty. If you lose the security of a job it can be really overwhelming when that goes. I'd advise trying to focus your energy on the things you can control such as finances, budgeting, connecting with old contacts and revamping your CV. Remember that the OU Careers and Employability Service can offer support with CVs, application and interview preparation.

Alex: [00:06:15] Brilliant yes and remember loss of routine is another impact of redundancy. So how might you replace that? Maybe you want to take some time off. If you like to keep busy you might want to listen to some podcasts, perhaps learn a new skill, maybe I.T. related, or perhaps volunteer, which may also increase your employability in the future. You can set yourself new challenges and try some free online courses such as Future Learn, Open Learn or our badged Open courses, such as the one we have on resilience.

Dave: [00:06:46] But with so many choices, which option is best for you? Some courses for example cost a lot of money. A SWOT analysis is a planning technique that can be used by individuals to identify Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats. Completing this formal analysis can help you develop greater self-awareness. For example, it may help you identify skills which can be transferred to other sectors. Possible job opportunities and threats which could prevent you from reaching your personal goals. Completing a SWOT analysis alongside other career processes such as this can help you feel more in control of your own destiny, can help you change a potentially very negative situation into a positive career development. Join us for podcast number two where we cover tips and tales from the other side. With the help of our employee engagement team, recruiters and from those who have navigated redundancy too.

Alex: [00:07:37] Hope to see you there.

Dave: [00:07:39] Bye.

Podcast 2 - Tales from the other side

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Dave: [00:00:08] Welcome to the second of our three podcasts about redundancy. I'm Dave and I'm here today with Alex. In the first podcast, we talked about ways in which you could prepare for redundancy. This time we're going to hear some stories from individuals who've been affected by redundancy and gain some insights from recruiters into how they are perceived.

Alex: [00:00:30] Hi, Dave, and hello, everyone. There is no denying that redundancy can be a stressful, shocking, frustrating and demotivating experience. However, it may also promote long term changes, which could lead to exciting and more fulfilling career opportunities. While creating this podcast series we spoke with many individuals who have been affected by redundancy to try and gain their thoughts and how it made them feel. How did they prepare for the event? Did they turn this negative experience into a positive? And finally share advice to anyone else in the same position.

Dave: [00:01:07] Now, we're delighted to be joined today by David and Kathy, and they've both kindly offered to share their experiences of when they were previously affected by redundancy. David was made redundant from a global firm several years ago. David, would you mind tell us a little about your role, please?

David: [00:01:24] Yes, I was a communications consultant for an American but global company. And and I loved it. I was on the up and up as a young professional.

David: [00:01:38] It was hard work. I worked lots of hours and weekends and evenings, but it was a fantastic group of people. We were all so committed and really believed in what we were doing. And so, you know, it was an exciting time.

Dave: [00:01:56] And OK, so how did you feel when you found out they were making you redundant?

David: [00:02:01] Well, shocked was, I think, the short answer. It was a shock.

David: [00:02:07] Nobody expected it. Absolutely nobody. There were no rumours about it.

David: [00:02:12] So we'd been working so hard. We've be making such great progress with the business that we just thought, how could they do this to us? We've been so loyal to the company and the company hadn't been loyal to us. So, it's a bit like a bereavement, really. It's like grief. It's denial, anger, eventually acceptance, of course, in the end. But I went through the whole range of emotions.

Dave: [00:02:38] That sounds like a really, difficult period for you. And so anyway, so on a more positive note, the two months that gave you some sort of notice period to prepare and re-evaluate your career. So, David would you mind giving listeners some detail on how you actually went through this process and what it led to longer term for you?

David: [00:02:59] Well, I did take some time to, to obviously absorb the shock, but also it gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate what I wanted to do in life and what opportunities and possibilities not being married to this old job could give me so..

David: [00:03:25] ..Once I got to the point where I could imagine doing something different after the initial shock, I started exploring my options and I went travelling, I decided "what I really want is a break and some headspace"..

David: [00:03:42] ...So I drove across Europe, down to Italy, up to the Outer Hebrides as well. And and, uh, in the end, it helped me get to a place where I was running...

David: [00:03:57] ..I started up another company, a small company with a friend, which we ran for the next 15 years, which was also flexible enough to allow me to do some of my other passions, such as acting and directing. Which, it would have never happened if I hadn't been made redundant, we would have been still working the long hours and the weekends and the evenings.

Dave: [00:04:20] That's a really inspirational, interesting story, David. So new experiences, have you got any tips for our listeners?

David: [00:04:28] Yeah, I would say after the initial shock, of course, that redundancy was well, as my colleague always says, it made her wake up.

David: [00:04:41] So I think the first thing is don't let redundancy stop you from opening your, your eyes and ears and mind to gaining a new perspective on things.

David: [00:04:57] It's a chance to lead a happier life. It's a chance to actually, to learn new things, discover something new about yourself and go on a different pathway. So, I know that sounds like a platitude, but it's really true. It really is a chance to do something differently. So, the first thing is be open minded. That's my first tip.

David: [00:05:19] Don't discard any opportunities just because they don't look exactly like your old job. Consider anything new that comes that comes along. It could be just what you're looking for. It could be right up your street. It could be perfect for your passions and what you want to do. Or, number two, it could be a steppingstone.

David: [00:05:37] So this is my second piece of advice. Don't be afraid of starting a little bit lower down the ladder if you're going to change direction because your previous experience will, the, the transferable skills that you bring from all your previous experience will definitely be useful in another role and will probably make you progress much more quickly. And the third one is, understand your transferable skills. Really look at yourself and look at it and say, "oh, I've achieved this, I've achieved that, I can do this and I can do that" and see, "OK, I can if I can apply it here, what else could I apply it to?" Those are my three tips, I think. So, the first one is stay open minded. The second one is don't be afraid of changing direction and maybe starting a little bit lower. And the third one is really be sure of your transferable skills.

Dave: [00:06:29] Thanks very much for that advice, David. That's really, really helpful and useful, and I particularly like the emphasis they put on transferable skills. That seems a really, really important part of the process to me.

Alex: [00:06:41] Absolutely. I guess it's about understanding that redundancy isn't personal but that maybe how you respond to it is.

Alex: [00:06:53] Let's talk to Cathy now about her experiences of redundancy. Cathy's husband was made redundant and she wasn't able to return to work immediately because of childcare. The uncertainty of whether they would keep a roof over their young family's head was very stressful. Cathy and her family had a really efficient way in responding to redundancy. Cathy, would you like to share with us what you did with our listeners?

Cathy: [00:07:18] Well, Alex as soon as we found out he was being made redundant We looked at how we could draw on the support of everyone we knew, of friends, family, professional contacts, everyone to help him find work. I helped him rewrite his CV and develop a personal statement using Open University resources. They were really helpful. And then we got the whole extended family to search for jobs. Our parents were excellent at searching all their local newspapers where they lived. My husband contacted a whole range of recruitment agencies and we scoured the internet. No job vacancy was safe.

Alex: [00:08:07] Sounds like you were really proactive as soon as you discovered he was to be made redundant.

Alex: [00:08:12] So what was the result of all that hard work?

Cathy: [00:08:15] Well, yes, we were. You're right Alex it was hard work, but it paid off. Eventually, after several interviews, my husband got a new job and it was my mum with an advert in the local paper who came up trumps. He got a job with a local company and was there for many years, very happily afterwards.

Alex: [00:08:41] That's brilliant, thanks for your advice and for sharing your story with our listeners Cathy. I think what I'm hearing here is that redundancy needn't be a solitary journey. So do draw on the people around you.

Alex: [00:08:53] To back this up we also heard from Amy, when gaining insights into how people have dealt with redundancy. And she told us, too, that when her dad was made redundant, the whole family kept an eye out for job vacancies. So that's a really great support network. You had there.

Dave: [00:09:07] Something I should add at this point for our listeners is not all jobs are advertised. Talking to others about your situation and how you're looking for work can lead to employment opportunities. So, drawing on your own network certainly supports this.

Alex: [00:09:21] I completely agree, Dave. The hidden job market is really worth exploring. Once the job is advertised publicly, there's automatically competition for it isn't there. At a recent digital skills event I was told that smaller tech companies increasingly use personal recommendations and word of mouth to recruit, so that's worth bearing in mind. Cathy, before you go, I'd love to hear any tips you might share from the other side of redundancy.

Cathy: [00:09:47] Well, I think a tip I have is that a knowledge that you're going to be feeling low. It's not the best thing to happen to anyone. Allow yourself to feel vulnerable rather than being only upbeat and sort of jolly-hockey-sticks all the time and repressing those negative feelings. What we found helpful was using anger as a resource for energy to undertake the job seeking process at this, we found especially useful if unemployment lasts longer than you expect. And finally, and really importantly, I can't emphasise this one enough. Don't forget to have fun and do other things rather than just searching for work whilst under the threat of redundancy or unemployed. That's because you need to reward yourself finding job vacancies, preparing CVs, preparing for interviews. It's hard work and you need to give yourself those little rewards, keep yourself going and recognise the effort you're putting into it. So, look after your mental and physical health as well as the job seeking process, because looking for a job can be very draining.

Alex: [00:11:07] Oh, thank you so much, Cathy. Some great tips there. And also, to David today for sharing your time and sharing your experiences.

Dave: [00:11:21] So we've heard from individuals who've been through redundancy, but how do recruiters perceive the candidates who've been made redundant? We've asked several of our industry contacts for their thoughts. And today we're joined by Emily. Emily is from the OU Careers and Employability Services Employee Engagement Team. Emily, would you like to give us an overview of what the employers we contacted said?

Emily: [00:11:42] Thanks, Dave. Yes. So, all of the recruiters that we spoke with shared similar views. Each said that they do not view candidates who have been made redundant any different to other candidates. And each recruiter said that they regularly recruit individuals who have been made redundant. Interestingly, one recruiter said that being out of work because of redundancy can actually be an advantage to the recruit, as they don't have a notice period. And then that reduces the risk of not starting.

Alex: [00:12:10] Gosh, that's an interesting way to look at things, Emily. It's really worth considering the bigger picture and viewing things from the recruiter's perspective, isn't it? Did the recruiters share any advice we can pass on to our listeners?

Emily: [00:12:22] Yes, they did. So, one recruiter said the most successful candidates who have recently been made redundant are those who have a flexible approach and think about how their relevant existing skills can be transferred into the new organisation. They also said understanding that they have skills that are actually transferable should give the individual an increase in confidence. Another employer that we spoke to said that job searching was the minimum that should be done once being made redundant. They stressed that you should try and avoid gaps in your CV as they can make you look less appealing to an employer. The recruiter suggested that there are things that can be done to fill in these gaps. So, things like completing extra study, online training, work experience or volunteering. Another important point that they made was making sure that your online profile on platforms such as LinkedIn are kept up to date because online networking can be a really useful way of finding new opportunities and gaining insights into the industry.

Alex: [00:13:26] Thank you very much for sharing those employer insights Emily. There's some really useful advice and tips in there about how to take control of the situation, isn't there.

Alex: [00:13:36] Hopefully this podcast has shown you that although redundancy is difficult, you're not alone. It's not anything to be embarrassed about and it can actually lead to a more fulfilling career in the future.

Dave: [00:13:48] In podcast three, we will share with you some ways that the OU Careers and Employability Services can help if you are made redundant. Thanks for listening today.

Alex: [00:13:57] Bye for now.

Podcast 3 - A new door opens

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Dave: [00:00:08] Welcome to podcast three of our reframing redundancy series. So far during podcast one and two, we've discussed ways in which you can prepare for redundancy, explored feelings and emotions, individuals affected by redundancy typically experienced. And shown, in many cases, redundancy can lead to a positive outcome long-term.

Dave: [00:00:28] Now I'm joined today again by Alex. Alex, would you like to let our listeners know what we'll be covering today's podcast, please?

Alex: [00:00:34] Yes, of course. Hi, Dave, and hello again everyone. In this podcast we'll be highlighting services and resources provided by the OU if you are searching for work or hoping to increase your skill set following redundancy.

Dave: [00:00:49] That's absolutely great.

Dave: [00:00:51] Now, I guess a good place to start is the coping with job loss web page, which is found on the OU, Careers and Employability Services website. Alex, could you give us an overview of what's on this page, please?

Alex: [00:01:03] Yes. So, the coping with job loss web page has links to all the resources we've mentioned during the course of our reframing redundancy podcast.

Alex: [00:01:11] This includes links to ACAS, the Money Advice Service, Citizens Advice and the Mind website. But that's not all. For example, the web page also covers information and advice on voluntary work with links off to our Open Learn pages with articles and free courses on this topic. There's also links to popular web pages for local voluntary opportunities, including ones you can do from home and to databases such as and Charity Job. You'll also find information and advice on updating your skills and how to develop your CV with links to the Abintegro CV builder software. There's advice on how to present your CV if you have a gap in your career history, maybe you have a disability and aren't sure how or if to include it in your CV. If you have a criminal record, you might be wondering how to declare it. It's all included in these links. Last but not least, there are contact details of where to go for further support.

Dave: [00:02:12] Thanks very much for that summary there.

Dave: [00:02:15] Now, something very important we wanted to raise as part of this podcast was how certain groups often find it harder to get back into work following redundancy. This could be, for example, because you've had adjustments made to your working environment due to disability and you're not sure how to approach this subject with a new employer, or you might have caring responsibilities.

Dave: [00:02:36] Alex, how does our service support specific groups of students with these particular needs?

Alex: [00:02:43] So in Careers and Employability Services we're keen to help all students and tailor our service to what they need.

Alex: [00:02:50] We work with employers and organisations to update our knowledge and produce resources to support specific groups, such as the podcast series with RNIB. Our advisors can signpost to resources to help with activities, such as creating an opening statement and finding inclusive employees and schemes.

Dave: [00:03:11] Thanks, Alex. Are there any particular resources you could recommend and how can these be accessed?

Alex: [00:03:17] Yeah, and certainly there's actually a category within the Careers and Employability Services webinars and past forums web page called Find Equality and Diversity Support.

Alex: [00:03:28] Here we focus on support available for equality and diversity issues, for planning your career, finding and applying for jobs and work experience. I would recommend exploring the webinars and the read-only forums in this section to discover what is more appropriate for your needs. On this web page you will also find webinars relating to mindfulness, reasonable adjustments and disclosing disabilities. We've provided a link to access these webinars and forums on the coping with job loss page.

Dave: [00:04:00] Something I must stress, though, is that these webinars that can actually only be accessed by OU students.

Dave: [00:04:08] If you're not an OU student we do have materials open to all relating to inclusion and diversity. And these can be found within the CVs, applications and interviews and the jobs and work experience sections of the Careers and Employability Services website.

Alex: [00:04:22] Yes there's some very useful information on those pages. So, I would recommend checking them out.

Alex: [00:04:27] I've mentioned it before, but it is worth mentioning again, Open Learn is also available to everyone. It offers thousands of free, short online courses. So, if you're thinking of retraining because of redundancy or you simply just want to learn something new, Open Learn is a fantastic place to start. I'd highly recommend the very relevant free course called Developing Careers Resilience. It's been written by one of our own careers and employability consultants, Catherine Davis, and Ann Pegg from the Open Media Unit.

Dave: [00:04:59] Ah, yes, Open Learn, that's absolutely excellent and it's important to note for our listeners that many of these courses are in collaboration with other organisations, such as the BBC. Now one new Open Learn course I just want to make you aware of that's just been recently created, at the time of actually creating this podcast, is one designed in collaboration with Money Savings Expert.

Alex: [00:05:21] That could be quite useful for redundancy, couldn't it? Oh, gosh, Dave, we forgot to say as well that you receive an online badge as recognition for completing many of the courses, too, and who doesn't like a badge. This can actually be added to your LinkedIn profile.

Dave: [00:05:34] Thanks for that, Alex. I completely forgot about the badges.

Dave: [00:05:38] It's always nice to get recognition when you complete professional development and, in some cases, this can actually help you find new work or even successfully enrol in further study.

Alex: [00:05:47] Although website information and advice is useful and often helps you make your own informed decisions; it is sometimes helpful to discuss your career needs with an expert in careers guidance.

Dave: [00:05:58] Like you, Alex.

Alex: [00:06:00] Thanks, Dave. Well, in all seriousness, though, having a one to one appointment with someone like myself or one of my colleagues can be really useful to help you to develop career planning strategies. A one to one appointment is tailored to meet your individual circumstances. It's part of a process where you could begin to clarify what is important to you. Through discussion we can enable your exploration of career options and support you to progress your career plans. We offer consultations by telephone, Skype or email, whatever suits you best and whatever your starting point. At the OU we offer one to one appointments via our website and Opportunity Hub. If you're signed in with your OUCU you will see the request a careers consultation link on our contents page.

Dave: [00:06:51] So as we approach the end of our podcast series, let's summarise what's been covered.

Dave: [00:06:56] Alex, would you like to highlight the key points that we've gone for in the reframing redundancy series, please?

Alex: [00:07:01] Certainly, Dave. So, in podcast one, we covered how to prepare for redundancy, and we took time to consider its impact.

Alex: [00:07:09] In podcast two, we moved on to ideas of how you might reframe redundancy with input from our employer engagement team. We also heard from people who've been there, done that and survived. And in this, our final podcast, we've highlighted services and resources provided by us if you're searching for work or hoping to increase your skill set following redundancy.

Dave: [00:07:33] Thanks very much for summarising there Alex.

Dave: [00:07:35] So, what is left to say from me is thank you very much for listening. I hope you found the information and advice provided really helpful and I wish you every success in the future.

Alex: [00:07:45] Bye.

We have also created a mini-series of one-off podcasts specifically created for students living in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Each podcast covers the governing bodies you need to get in touch with and who to contact when looking for new roles in your area.

Redundancy gave me the chance to take stock and think about what I wanted from a job. I was able to get jobs more locally and cut out a lot of travelling time which had been a big issue. It also forced me to make the change that I had talked about for a while.


Redundancy is an opportunity to learn, grow, discover, try something new. Yes, you need to sort out your finances and the unknown can be stressful. But the transition period, the financial insecurity – it doesn’t last. You look back and it’s just a short period of economising. You will get by, you will survive. And then you’ll start to thrive!


Last updated 6 months ago