When it comes to job loss, few Australians have been marched from their posts more often than politician-turned-media commentator Mark Latham.
He lost to John Howard in the 2004 election and quit politics, he lost his columnist position at The Australian Financial Review after he attacked domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty’s work on Twitter, and in 2017 his role at SkyNews came to an abrupt end after he speculated about the sexuality of a school student in a video. Latham has defied odds picking up new high-profile roles after public errors.
But for those of us who aren’t Latham, what is the process if we’re fired or made redundant?
Redundancy is quite often a business imperative, not a reflection of a person’s ability to do their job. Often an accepted part of a business lifecycle, its occurrence is on the up. Particularly in industries that have been disrupted by technology.
However, that doesn’t make it easy for the people who are impacted by the change. Dr Keith Abbott, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management in the Faculty of Business and Law at Deakin University, says there is always some angst associated with job loss. ‘There is the loss of a current income, severed relations held with colleagues and serious disruption to work-life balance,’ he says.
‘But it’s not the end of the world,’ Dr Abbott adds. In some cases, redundancy payouts can provide a great lump sum to save or spend, especially if you find another role soon after.
While Dr Abbott says people can expect to experience some short-term pain associated with the adjustment, there can be many benefits to a forced career shift. ‘It can be a time to reassess the direction your career is taking, consider training options, reflect on personal strengths and weakness that might improve job prospects and job security in the future,’ he says.
On the flipside, he suggests ‘there is not a lot that can be done to repair a professional profile,’ if you’re sacked. He points out that that’s why Australian employees are protected from being terminated. If you believe you’ve been unfairly dismissed under circumstances deemed harsh, unjust or unreasonable, you can apply for reinstatement or compensation through the Fair Work Commission.
'It can be a time to reassess the direction your career is taking, consider training options, reflect on personal strengths and weakness that might improve job prospects and job security in the future.'
Dr Keith Abbott, Faculty of Business and Law,
If you’re looking for a new role, there are a few things to consider. First, do you want to stay in your industry or return to studying a new field? It can be a good opportunity to make a career shift. If you’re not returning to study, keep in mind that there may be hidden opportunities that are never advertised. So it pays to contact the companies you’d like to work for directly and arrange to talk to a hiring manager about future prospects.
In terms of addressing redundancy on a resume, Abbott says it’s not unusual to set out the reason you leave your role at a firm. ‘It is typical to note the job, the work performed as part of the job and when the role was commenced and completed.
Seeing there are so many reasons a job might cease to exist, including changing systems or the discontinuation of a product line, it’s a good idea to know how to articulate redundancy to a prospective employer. ‘Reasons for why an employee left a job will normally explored by a firm at the interview stage, at which time explanations might be given by the job applicant,’ Dr Abbott says. Being able to give a straight response is definitely better than dodging the question.
No matter how good you are at your job, it’s impossible to completely protect yourself from job loss. However, according to Abbott, young people entering the workforce should maintain and build skills that firms need.
‘To avoid being made redundant, people should remain mindful of what jobs are likely to be shipped overseas or taken over by technology. Not just in the immediate future, but as well over the course of their working lives,’ he says. That means thinking broadly about how your chosen industry is evolving, re-skilling before there is an urgent need and trying to remain ahead of the curve in a constantly changing workforce.
Want to re-skill for the future? Find the right course for you at Deakin University.
Subscribe for a regular dose of technology, innovation, culture and personal development.