The ever-present spectre of redundancy looms large this year, as businesses slash roles to cut costs. In this time of uncertain employment, it’s more important than ever to prepare yourself for the very real possibility that you will be shown the door.
No matter how safe your job seems, preparing for the worst (while expecting the best) is sensible. Here’s how to make sure you’re practically, psychologically and financially ready for redundancy.
Read the signs
Without being paranoid, it’s important to watch for signs of change. Indicators of major change include a contraction in the size of the business, a change in direction or new members of senior management with big plans for the company.
When new management steps in, listen carefully to their plans for the business, especially as it pertains to your department. If they’re talking about “streamlining”, “cost cutting” or “hard decisions”, start taking steps to ensure you’re ready for the worst. But don’t panic, none of these things guarantee you’re about to be out of a job.
Get your LinkedIn on
LinkedIn is a wonderful and often underused tool. Ensure you have a clear, recent, professional photo and make sure your profile is up to date at all times, with any projects and education you complete added as soon as possible. As your current role develops and changes, it’s good to update your bio to reflect your new skills and experience. You may even find yourself head hunted.
Alongside this, it’s important to engage with the LinkedIn community. Post articles you’ve written, or that have been written about you/ your projects, or even just pieces you find interesting. Read other people’s work and comment, ask questions and share. This is a form of very low level networking, easy to do but keeps you front and centre.
When you sense an impending potential redundancy, you can ramp up your networking by reaching out to people in other organisations or people in your industry you admire. Don’t ask them for a job, instead work on turning them into a professional contact, perhaps someone you can learn from or share ideas with. The flip side of that is that you must be open to other people reaching out to you. Plus, you never know where people will be in five years – an intern today could hire you tomorrow.
Continue your education
You should always, always be learning and upskilling – impending redundancy or not – but it’s good to ramp it up when you think your job is in jeopardy (without slacking off during work hours, of course).
During good times, employers may help you pay for continued development that will increase your value to them and let you take time off to do it. But depending on your industry, you may also be able to find free or inexpensive courses that you can do in your spare time.
It’s also good to learn skills outside those required for your role – not only will it make you a more versatile and hard-to-replace employee, it will open up new doors when you’re seeking work.
Stash those savings
If you don’t have a financial safety net yet, do everything you can to give yourself one while you’re still employed. A common consensus is that you should have three months’ of living expenses easily accessible, but in the current climate it would be smart to reckon with a longer period of unemployment and your redundancy payout may not last you until you find a new job.
Know your rights
If there are rumours of redundancies in the wind, do some thorough reading of the Fair Work Ombudsman so you know your rights before the axe is dropped. Don’t sign or agree to anything until you’ve checked all the details, and if anything seems fishy, speak to Fair Work. It’s important to be aware of the ins and outs of redundancy packages, so you can get everything you’re entitled to.
Remember you’re more than your job
If you love your career and find that you tend to identify yourself based on your job, it might be good to explore who you are outside of that. Try a new hobby, join a team, rekindle old friendships. Not only will this give you a wider social network and a more well-rounded life, it will create a psychological safety net in case you’re made redundant.