Day 92 – Life after Redundancy

23 Dec 2019

Today, I urge you to grab a cuppa as there is an extended blog and you are going to want to read this; Life after redundancy. According to the ONS, 4.3 per 1,000 employees (Aug-Oct 19) have been made redundant or taken voluntary redundancy.

I wouldn’t have started Peony & Magnolia and started this chapter of my career and Chris @ wouldn’t have been on his own journey. Chris was happy to run with my mad capped idea and has given an honest account of life after taking ‘the cheque’.

After 33 years of gainful employment – how did I get here?! 

I was put at risk due to transformational change within Lloyds Banking Group and decided to take the opportunity of securing the holy grail of ‘the cheque’ following 33 years’ service. There was a role available and although my salary would increase and there would be transitional financial support for commute costs, by year two I would have been financially worse off and more importantly I would be commuting every day.  I had been able to be part of my children’s daily routines since they were born and if I took the role offered, I would only see them during waking hours at the weekends. There was no flexible working on offer as every day had to be in the office.  I did not take this decision lightly as we had recently added a large lump onto our mortgage following an extension – so I still needed to work and earn decent money!  For many people reading this (Mums and Dads) I am sure this may be what they have to face and is their reality, however I have always worked hard and will continue to do so, but my greatest achievement and investment is my children so I want to be there for them too.


From my Commercial Management and Risk Management experience I undertook a good old SWOT analysis (as sunlit uplands are not always what they first appear!).

  • Strengths:

I knew I could offer vast experience from a self-designed career within Lloyds. I had been a Change Manager, a Portfolio Lead (aka Product Owner) in IT Application/Software team, I was a Business Analyst, I had Waterfall and Agile knowledge and experience, I knew LEAN principles and how to reduce operational waste. I had set up and managed an IT Risk Portfolio as a side of desk activity. I had been a Commercial Manager responsible for small to medium enterprises lending and income growth. I had been a trainer a mentor and had 33 years of industry leading training. It felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do or haven’t done!

  • Weaknesses:

There was nothing I couldn’t do, other than demonstrate experience in a non-financial services sector. I also had no professional qualifications as big companies like LBG are very good at training internally. I also had not applied for a job externally – ever! There was so much breadth in vocation in LBG, I just never felt the need.  Even when I moved from Brighton to Hemel Hempstead, the project teams I oversaw were spread out across the country that I could spend most of my time working from home. I even had built an office in the garden to work from! So I use my notice period– plenty of time to brush up on the training, CV writing and interview techniques.

  • Opportunities:

There was a whole new world out there. I didn’t want to get to the end of my career and not have been courageous enough to step outside and once I had the insurance of the severance in my pocket I could even approach the contractor market to really earn some good money and get the mortgage paid off early! What company wouldn’t want to recruit someone that could bring the breadth of experience I could offer? I was also living in a great catchment area just outside London, and with towns like Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford around, I may not even have to commute into London. The world was my oyster! (so, everyone told me) after all who knows someone unemployed? Who knows of anyone who hasn’t said that taking severance had been the best thing they had ever done? Even if I was annoyed with myself for not doing it 10 years earlier, that not a bad place to be!

  • Threats:

Brexit and the political climate, mortgages! You can’t choose when voluntary redundancy will present, and it wasn’t ideal that I could hear lots of experts all agreeing Brexit was bad for the economy.  I may lose some of the flexibility I had working from home and being able to be responsive to the unplanned demands of being a carer; young children and an elderly father combined.

 Action plan

As part of my severance package I was offered Outplacement Support which was first class. I made me think about things and view my own personal preferences and values. The outcome of that was that ideally, I would like to be part of a small, growing business where I could have impact and influence using my broad experience, rather than a small cog in a large wheel.

I used what I had gleaned the advice and started to network, I spoke to contractor colleagues and colleagues who had moved on to get their input on good recruiters / recommendations, updated CV/ cover letters and I was ready to go.

I signed up to some recommended job boards, targeted some speculative approaches, investigated local employers, undertook some online networking and face to face networking.

I found a really good template for tracking my ‘self-marketing’ which I adapted that allowed me to track all of my actions, contacts, applications, updates and next steps.  This was a great action plan!

What’s changed – IDK!

You have to get with the times quite quickly and it had become obvious to me that the recruitment process is quite binary in that people want a PM, or a BA or a Product Owner and that recruiters only hear what they want to hear – they are not interested in ‘I can also do this that and the other’ which I initially thought would add weight to my application, as the employer would be getting what they want and more!

It also become evident that many recruiters don’t follow up on what they say they will do, making an impression is a two way street and I can very quickly hear who is professional, or knowledgeable about the role or will follow up on their grand gestures!  I get you have to be extrovert as a recruiter, however there is a lot in the phrase ‘you can’t blag a blagger’ and ‘know your customer’.  

I actually had a really good conversation with a friend who will remain nameless who worked for a large recruitment firm who gave me some good nuggets of advice. One was, use recruiters for contract roles. The second, don’t use them for permanent roles as they are simply chasing a fee! Instead research the companies you want to work for, look them up on LinkedIn, go to their employees and find their talent acquisition and tap them up directly.  The only challenge with this is that these companies need to be recruiting. *

Real World

  • Cabin fever – as I write this from an actual log cabin, I can reassure you there is such a thing and searching for a job becomes quickly frustrating and unrewarding.  People around you do not realise it is a full time job in itself!
  • Difference of opinions – there are so many differences of opinions around approach to recruiters / employers, CV’s, cover letters etc which are given in good faith and often they conflict with each other.
  • The recruitment market – it is a necessary evil and I don’t say that lightly or does it reflect all recruiters. I have seen some ‘stat’ suggesting only 20% of roles are externally advertised. I have also seen another suggesting 80% of external roles are secured by someone in their personal / professional network. So that leaves a lot of recruiters and applicants fighting over the rest!
  • The final thing I had not expected was the IR35 legislation which has had a diverse effect on the contractor market, driving contractors into the permanent market.
  • Keep taking – speaking to people helps, even if you get a bit of reassurance that you will be ok. I like to organise and plan and I don’t like leaving things open ended, therefore the lack of control of outcome is outside my comfort zone, however I must not lose sight of my values, remaining confident and professional and believing in my own capabilities!

In review, I don’t regret taking the cheque, yet. Even if I had taken the role offered and found the lack of flexible working to be a temporary strategy, I still would not have the severance payment that currently allows me the opportunity of hanging out for the right role. I am looking for a true flexible working company which allows me the balance between having a career, my family and life and utilises the skills I have and my full potential. After 33 years, I don’t need to prove loyalty, I just need to discover the right company for me.

*(I need to caveat this is my journey and experiences and some of the views quoted are in some cases my opinion or have been validated by others in the recruitment profession.)  

With thanks to Chris for his honesty and openness.  If you are the one making the decision for the business, try to be considerate and remember that there is a person behind the process as well as staying fair and commercially focused.

For those who are at risk of redundancy, remember, YOU, the person isn’t being made redundant, your role is, however, it feels so very personal at the time. Try and focus on the journey and be positive, leverage and learn as much as possible, outplacement is a great option or coaching to help frame your next steps.

#challenge #100days #HR #redundancy #projectmanagement #busiessanalyst #agile #waterfall #lean #flexiworking #outplacement #newstart