If you find yourself facing redundancy at your firm or you have lost your job and are having a difficult time finding a new one, there are several things you can do to make sure the unemployment period is as short and as painless as possible. Here are some facts you need to be aware of if you are ever made redundant, as well as some tips and tricks on dealing with unemployment:
Redundancy package: Negotiate
Before you accept a redundancy package from your employer, go over your employment contract to see what rights you have and find out what the statutory redundancy pay is in your state. Some companies will offer you a better package, while others might not give you even the statutory payment. In either case, you need to be informed before you sign your name on any legal document.
When your employer informs you that you are being laid off, do not verbally agree to any offers and do not say no to a severance pay either, regardless of the sum. Instead, tell the employer that you need to consider the offer more carefully before agreeing to anything. If possible, try to get the company to include some transitional benefits, such as family income protection, medical insurance or pension accrual in your redundancy package, as these can amount to quite a bit of money.
Statutory redundancy payments are calculated based on your length of service, salary and age. They will vary from state to state, so make sure you do your research before accepting the redundancy package. A financial advisor or human resources representative can be of assistance to you in this respect.
Redundancy law: Know what you are entitled to
If you are not convinced that the reasons for which you have been made redundant are genuine or that the employer's selection criteria for redundancy were fair and objective, there are bodies that can investigate what the real reasons for your dismissal were. If the redundancy was a case of unfair dismissal, explore what your legal options are and pursue them.
If you feel that your redundancy rights are not being met, first talk to your employer. If this does not help, turn to the trade union official or another employee representative who can help you solve the problem to your satisfaction. If this option is ineffective too, do not hesitate to consult a lawyer.
Redundancy and unemployment benefits
Find out what unemployment benefits you qualify for. Both the benefits and qualifications vary from country to country, but if you have been laid off or made redundant, you will qualify for at least some benefits. Depending on your circumstances, you could claim a number of unemployment benefits, ranging from Jobseeker's Allowance and Income Support to Housing Benefit and help with medical costs.
Voluntary redundancy and unemployment benefits
If your company is offering you a voluntary redundancy package, you should never take it without a very good reason. For one thing, being made redundant – even in the recession market – will not look good to any prospective employers down the line. For another, if you have not already secured a new position, there is always the risk that you will not find employment in the immediate future.
Unemployment tips and tricks
Once you are back on the job market, the first thing you need to do is update your resume. If you have not written a job application in years, there are a number of websites offering excellent resume writing tips that will help you improve your odds of getting invited to job interviews. You can also find advice on writing good cover letters and impressing recruiters at interviews that will give you an advantage over candidates who come unprepared.
Then, it's time to start hunting for job opportunities. Job boards, unemployment agencies, recruitment firms and newspaper ads are a great place to start, but to make sure you are exploring all the options that are out there, you should expand the search to your network of contacts, family members, and even former employers who may have part-time opportunities that can help you get through the unemployment period.
It has never been easier than today to get in touch with all your friends and acquaintances and ask if they have heard of any openings at their companies, or if they could recommend you to their friends and business contacts who work in related fields. Make new contacts in industries that you are targeting. Even if it doesn't land you a new job, having a strong network of professional contacts can be useful in a number of different ways down the line. Needless to say, your contacts might at the very least offer you some good advice on dealing with your current situation.
Don't spread your energies too thin by sending out applications to employers who are not looking for your particular set of skills. Target the ones who are and take the time to write an effective application to each of them. If you are having a hard time securing a role after a few months, re-evaluate your skills and career path. If you have ever wanted to pursue a different career path, maybe this is the right time to give it a shot. Explore the existing opportunities and see if there are any professional training courses that you could benefit from, that could set you on the right course.
Financial planning: Do not miss out on opportunities
If you don't have any substantial savings tucked away for a rainy day and are not getting any job offers, you should seek advice from a financial planner as soon as possible. A financial advisor will not only help you minimise tax and find benefits that you are entitled to and may not be aware of, but also offer invaluable advice on keeping your budget in check. By going to a professional, you will minimise the risk of making mistakes that may end up costing you money and missing out on financial opportunities that you may not be aware of. An advisor can help you find ways to make money even when you do not have a job.
The final word of advice is, if you have been made redundant, do not take it personally. Even if you were not personally invested in the job or have not been with the same employer for a number of years, being made redundant and facing rejection at job interviews can take its toll on anyone. The trick here is to remember that it is not you, but your job, that has been made redundant. If your company was forced to make cuts, they are feeling the loss too.
Whether you were let go for performance issues or because the company was cutting costs, having a negative outlook can not only blind you to all the career options that are out there, it can also make your contacts reluctant to recommend you for a new job, hurt you at job interviews (no one wants a frustrated or depressed employee), and have a number of negative consequences on your personal life, financial situation, even health.
Unemployment is hard, but to the extent that you can help it, try not to identify with any demoralizing situation that it throws at you. Instead, focus on the things that you can do to end it.
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