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Redundancy can be unsettling and difficult. It’s important to remember that it is the role that is being made redundant, not you, and it’s not a reflection on your skill, competence or professionalism.
Here are some top tips to help you manage.
Don’t take it personallyBeing made redundant is a business issue. Organisations have to manage the bottom line, and in an economic downturn that means some roles may no longer be viable. It’s easy to feel aggrieved when facing redundancy but try and maintain good relations with your employer during the process. You will need a reference for your next role and colleagues may be able to make useful introductions or offer you consultancy work.
Check your contractCheck your contract for exit terms. Look at what redundancy package your employer offers and any requirements for your employer to follow a redundancy process. Your contract may contain some limits on what you can do post termination such as preventing you from competing with your employer; if so ask your employer to drop these restrictions. You should also check any requirements to update your status with your professional or representative body.
Get the best package you canDon’t be afraid to negotiate your redundancy package and ask for more that your employer is initially prepared to give you. You may be able to negotiate time off to attend interviews, a contribution to retraining or an extra month’s pay. Employers will be looking to move quickly to protect their cash flow so they may be open to offering more if it means a smoother and quicker exit.
Get adviceYou may need to consult an employment lawyer; your redundancy package may cover this cost or you may have legal expenses insurance as part of your credit card, house or car insurance. ACAS and government websites are good sources of information about what you are entitled to and the provisions the government is putting in place to help employees and businesses. Check our website for pro bono legal advice available to lawyers.
If you want to stayIf you are keen to stay where you are discuss the situation with your employer. Does the organisation offer easy transfer to other departments and will they pay for any additional training if necessary? Would they be able to keep you on if you were to take a salary cut or reduce your hours? In most cases redundancy is the last resort and this will already have been considered, but it is still worth asking. A reduction in your cost to your employer may mean that a redundancy situation can be avoided.
Review your career and decide where you want it to goThis may be a good opportunity to review your goals, skills and ambitions. The knee-jerk reaction may be to get another job with a firm or organisation similar to your old one, but it could also be worth taking time to think about what you would really like to do, and where you want your career to go. You might want to speak to a specialist careers consultant or consider retraining in a different area of law where demand is greater. You may want to leave the law entirely for a new career. Check what career services your professional body provides.
Get your CV and LinkedIn profile up to dateGet your CV up to date highlighting your strengths, experience and transferrable skills. You could consider contacting a recruitment consultant or CV drafting service for expert help. Make sure your LinkedIn profile shows you are open to new opportunities.
Start networkingLet friends, family, former colleagues, and contacts know that you are in the employment market and to let you know if they are aware of any vacancies. Join your local Law Society, bar association or special interest groups and legal groups on LinkedIn.
Learn new skillsCheck to see what courses are available online, at local colleges and universities or through your professional body and ensure your CPD record is up to date. This is a great time to upskill; there are numerous webinars, online conferences and CPD activities which you can do at home, often at little or no cost.
Be flexibleBe prepared to consider a variety of options such as a different practice area, the need for retraining, relocation or salary reduction. Don’t rush into applying for every job that comes up regardless of its suitability. It’s going to be a different job market post lockdown. Talk to contacts and read the legal pages to determine where the areas of demand are likely to be. Think about what you can do to appeal to those employers most likely to be hiring.
Look at your financesSpend time understanding your finances so you have a realistic picture of your financial position. Consider what steps you may need to take to help you manage. Check our website for organisations that can support lawyers with financial difficulties. If you are worried about debt Step Change the national debt charity provides free advice and has useful resources.
Think positiveThis is unquestionably a difficult time, but redundancy does give you an opportunity to think about your future and what you want. It also gives you the space to explore a wider range of options that you may have never considered before. It can be a catalyst to help you make positive changes in your working life.
Look after yourselfDon’t neglect your mental and physical health. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, seek help, talk to family and friends or see your GP, or you can contact LawCare www.lawcare.org.uk or 0800 279 6888 in confidence for emotional support.
Support and resources available
Financial and legal support
England and Wales
Law Society of England and Wales Careers Clinic
Law Society of Scotland Redundancy and Unemployment Support
Law Society of Scotland Career Support and Advice
Law Society of Scotland Jobs
The Law Society of Northern Ireland Careers page
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