HR professionals can bounce back from redundancy

David Hodgkinson on how he found himself unexpectedly back on the job market after 28 years

It is 2015, and my job is made redundant because of a workplace reorganisation. In my head, reality is slow to kick in. Outwardly I talk about newfound freedoms and aspirational change, but inside… well that’s another thing.

I had been continuously employed for 28 years by the same employer, doing a job I enjoyed. The last time I had to worry about a job application was in the 1990s. I’ve always been careful to invest in continuous professional development, but the idea of a job search and selling ‘brand me’ was a distant memory.

The first few weeks after leaving employment were good. I cherished the freedom and the chance to catch up with myself. But then the tipping point came: the realisation that a new job was needed. I sent out shiny new CVs with the expectation that interviews and a choice of appointments would surely follow.

Instead, I received nothing – not even acknowledgements of my applications. I even applied for a shop assistant role – just to tide me over – and heard nothing. My internal voice shouts: ‘It’s a shop job for goodness sake. How hard can it be?’ I sent out more CVs and applications with the same result. Memories of the 1980s and 1990s when I had obtained jobs with ease did little to help. Outwardly I am enthusiastic, while inwardly I am in denial. And, as an HR professional, I am supposed to know about this stuff.

It eventually took a friend to remind me what I knew: that no one was going to offer me a job on a plate, and that just because I had become a full member of the CIPD in the 1990s didn’t mean I knew all I needed to know about selling my knowledge and skills in 2016.

So I turned to the CIPD membership team for help. It not only offers discounted membership for professionals who have been made redundant, but also funds a one-day workshop, and follow-up sessions, from consultancy Penna to kick-start your job search.

Now it’s 2016, and I have just finished Penna’s back-to-work programme. In our group of six – comprised of people from different job roles and sectors – our consultant, Francesca, helped us analyse the 2016 job market. She proved to be an ideal critical friend: neither patronising nor someone teaching us to ‘suck eggs’, she firmly told us where we were going wrong, but also empowered and reassured us that we would prevail in our job search.

The programme has taught me not to be self-limiting and how to tailor my approach to job hunting; I’m so much more confident now than I was just a few months ago. I feel privileged to be part of a professional body that offers its members lifetime support – even when their circumstances change.

David Hodgkinson is currently working freelance on a number of projects in journalism, health, safety and environmental management, and HR. He previously worked as a health and safety adviser at Hampshire County Council


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