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Oct 222009
 
Yotsuba & The Apprentice

Image by Manic* via Flickr

Redundancy is an unpleasant fact of the modern working environment. The concept of a job-for-life is a long distant memory in today’s world of mergers, takeovers, downsizing and organisational “restructuring”.

No matter how secure you think your job is today, things could change radically tomorrow, and, like it or not, the threat of redundancy is very real.

Organisations need to stay competitive in order to survive, and often look to restructure and re-organise in an attempt to minimise costs and maximise efficiency. That process could easily mean that your job becomes surplus to requirements.

Feelings of shock, fear, anger and despair are common when you first hear you’re being made redundant. As emotions jostle for supremacy, it’s easy to lose your sense of perspective. But retaining that perspective is vital if you’re going to come through the trauma of redundancy unscathed.

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Aug 052009
 
Closed for business

Image by maistora via Flickr

The latest figures show that more Irish firms closed their doors in July than in any month so far this year. 151 firms became insolvent in July, a 33% increase on the figure for June and a surge of 132% on the same month last year. The construction sector, once again, was the worst hit by the insolvency spike — with reports suggesting a correlation with the traditional "builders holiday", and struggling firms choosing to avail of this traditionally quiet period to wind up their operations "under the radar".

The motor trade was also badly hit — with a 200% increase in insolvencies compared to June, and according to the insolvency news aggregator InsolvencyJournal.ie the numbers of Irish firms going out of business shows no sign of abating.

Retail insolvencies in July were up almost 50% in July, increasing sharply from a figure of 21 in June and almost triple the 11 insolvencies recorded in the sector during May. 131 retail companies have already gone out of business so far this year. In the hospitality sector insolvencies remained relatively consistent at 14, compared to 13 in June and 15 in May.

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Jun 192009
 
US Whig poster showing unemployment in 1837

Image via Wikipedia

Today around the world thousands of people just like you are losing their jobs.

It’s an enduring, if unpalatable fact that due to the economic circumstances we’re living through workers are being made redundant through no fault of their own. That’s generally accepted, and being made redundant in itself won’t necessarily tarnish your impeccable employment record. But when it comes to your CV, just how much leeway do you have? What’s an acceptable gap between periods of employment, and when does the dreaded label of "long term unemployed" start to rear its head?

Six months! That’s the magic number, according to research carried out in Britain recently.

The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) surveyed more than 1,000 managers on the topic. The results show that being unemployed doesn’t carry the stigma that people losing their jobs so often fear. At least not at first. In fact more than 80% of them said that the current employment status of applicants was completely irrelevant, as they didn’t consider it an accurate reflection of ability or performance given the current climate of mass redundancies.

But there is a limit to this benign outlook: spend six months or more out of work and a quarter of employers say they’d be less likely to give you a job, considering you to be "long-term-unemployed" at that point. Of course it’s not as cut and dried as that: studying for relevant vocational or academic qualifications, getting involved in voluntary work or perhaps pursuing your own entrepreneurial enterprise in the interim can bridge the gap, and demonstrating that you’ve been keeping up-to-date with developments in your industry while out of work can also help your credibility.

The ILM also warns those who’ve lost their jobs against splashing some of their redundancy cash on an extended career break; managers typically described candidates taking a gap year to travel or volunteer overseas as "unattractive" in the poll.

"Unemployment isn’t necessarily an indicator of ability, especially in the current climate when hundreds of talented individuals are being made redundant through no fault of their own," explained Penny de Valk, chief executive of ILM. "The good news is that most employers will treat unemployed applicants exactly the same as other candidates.

"The research shows that it is important for job seekers to try and get back to work as quickly as possible. They should use their time not only job hunting but finding ways to put themselves in front of the competition. The most effective way for job seekers to boost their future employment prospects is to play to their strengths, freshen up their knowledge and skills and keep up to date with developments in their sector," she added.

When you’ve been made redundant, picking yourself up and getting into the right frame of mind to look for work can take time – and in one of the most competitive job markets in decades finding a new job can be a long and drawn out process. So start early, and stay focussed. It’s tough out there — and that six month window identified by the ILM could slam closed much sooner than you think!

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