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How to recover from redundancy

Andy Haywood our consultant managing the role
Andy Haywood our consultant managing the role
Posted: 03/12/2020

Losing your job is a frustrating and confusing time. Not only are you concerned about your career and financial future, but redundancy can have an impact on even the most skilled professional’s confidence in their performance.

With the global pandemic impacting virtually every industry, the life sciences industry has been no exception. Redundancy is not exclusive to the pandemic though, with the temperamental success of scientific development, company mergers and acquisitions, as well as the rise in automation and robotics across the industry, many professionals are faced with the potential of job loss.

It is rarely an ideal scenario and redundancy has a physical, financial and mental impact. In recruitment, we assist many professionals who have gone through redundancy and have cultivated these top tips to ensure a smooth recovery from redundancy:

1. Assess and reflect

To attract the best talent within the industry, it is important to understand what encourages life sciences professionals to take a new job. We asked over 1,280 life sciences professionals what was their key motivator for changing job, and the top three results were:

  • Business financial pressure?
  • Acquisition?
  • Industry changes?
  • Technology replacing processes?

It is key not to take redundancy personally, particularly if the reasoning is out of your control. However, if your redundancy is due to industry trends or upcoming adoption of automated methods, you may need to revise how you promote your skillsets or even investigate up-skilling yourself.

Similarly, this is a useful reset on your career; consider what you like and don’t like from your previous roles. Redundancy often inspires a more critical look at the type of role and company you want to work for – rarely in a career do we get an excuse or opportunity to shift direction, so reflect wisely.

2. Find Closure

Once you’ve recognised the reasoning behind the redundancy, it's key to make peace with it. As a business decision, it was likely out of your control and not to be taken personally. The psychological and mental blocks from doubting your skill sets can have a detrimental impact on your upcoming recruitment processes and even seep into your next roles.

It is easier said than done, but it is important to accept the situation, address any lessons learnt from the process and divert your energies into making the best of the situation. Redundancies are not rare in the life sciences field or in recruitment processes – in fact, they can be an advantage if they allow you to refocus your personal career goals – so will certainly not hold you back if you do not let it.

Optional: Take a break

Much advice on redundancy will champion taking time to reflect and find a hobby etc. Whilst it is true that a career break may be a timely and beneficial opportunity, it is entirely optional. We have worked with many life sciences professionals who have proactively found, interviewed and accepted their next position before their official redundancy end date. If you wish to take time to recuperate, retrain or even retire, this may be a good time to do so, however, this is not the option for everyone and in some cases an unavailable option for those with financial or visa concerns.

3. Do your research

Where do your skills lie best? Understanding where your experience best suits the market places you in a strong position to make worthwhile steps in securing your next role. This is particularly important if you have been in permanent employment at the same company for a while.

  • What has changed within your industry? What are the most desirable skill sets to promote?
  • Who is hiring and what recruitment methods do they use?
  • How does an enterprise-level pharma job differ from emerging biotech businesses?
  • Geographically, where are the best jobs?

The life sciences industry is consistently evolving so it is important that you know how recruitment practices and employment expectations have adapted, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for a while.

4. Consult your options

How does your situation impact your options? If you need secure employment as soon as possible, you may need to reconsider your options.

  • Would you be more suited to contract work than permanent?
  • Could you relocate to an area where your skills are in demand?
  • Would a smaller, emerging business provide more opportunity?

Traditional ideals of finding a permanent job at an established business are not always viable or the best option so it is key to not only consult alternatives, but actively research and pursue them.

5. Prioritise job hunting like a job

The networking, searching, preparation and application processes is a full-time commitment. By channelling the same discipline to job hunting as you would a job, you are investing in your recruitment prospects. Up-skill yourself, engage in your network, research what names in the industry are achieving and how innovators are emerging.

The more you apply yourself to being an available, knowledgeable and keen candidate, the more you will stand out to recruiters and hiring managers.

6. Network, network, network

It’s not what you know, but who you know – the cliché is built on truth. In fact, it is estimated that upwards of 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Ensure you are well engaged with your industry peers, at the very least on LinkedIn. Engage former employers and colleagues, reach out to companies and industry peers for advice.

Some businesses will run career fairs or networking events for redundant employees – take advantage of all networking opportunities ahead of you. At best, you may secure a new position and even at the worst, your name will be further embedded within the industry as a viable candidate and you may get some good leads on where to focus your applications.

7. Contact a specialist recruiter

The importance of a network is core when it comes to job hunting and a recruiter effectively introduces you a breadth of hiring managers and companies specifically looking for professionals like you.

Be sure to look for a specialist recruiter, particularly within niche aspects of the life sciences market. Generalist recruiters will likely not have the relevant connections or credibility in the industry to connect you with relevant opportunities. For roles in cell and gene therapy, specialised biologics or various pharmaceutical regulatory practices, it is important that your recruiter understands and respects the demand and the market and the skill sets you have on offer to best represent you.

There is no place for pride when working with your recruiter, be clear on your situation, your expectations and your career aspirations and they will be able to effectively represent you to the hiring personnel that matter.

CASE STUDY: Helping a candidate recently made redundant line up a new job before his last day

8. Update your CV and professional profile

It may have been some time since your CV or LinkedIn profile has had a refresh, so it is paramount that you review how you are selling yourself to the industry.

CV – Prioritise tangible evidence of success over generic soft skills. Highlight your results, including figures if you have them. As the first introduction many hiring managers will have of you, it is key your CV best reflects your unique value and proven experience. Your recruiter will be able to help you ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Tips for making your CV stand out

How to write a CV for a manager/senior positions

LinkedIn – Even if you’re not using LinkedIn, recruiters and hiring managers are and they will likely look you up. Update your profile to show your progression and successes. You can attach papers, achievements and references to your profile to add to your credibility. Also, be sure to set your account to actively looking for opportunities to attract recruiters and hiring managers.

How to optimise your LinkedIn profile for job offers

Cover letters – Whilst it is key to cater your covering letter to the position and company you are applying to, having a default template you can adapt will help save you time during the application process.

Portfolio – If you have won awards and accreditation, published papers, featured on podcasts or have any other engagements within the industry, you can include these in a portfolio or appendix to your CV to further promote what you have achieved throughout your career.

9. Be realistic, accountable and empathetic with yourself

Redundancy is a mental and physical drain and you will likely see ups and downs in your career recovery. Whilst it may seem you have been thrown into an inconvenient situation and need to hit the ground running to secure a new, better job as soon as possible, it is important to effectively process the situation. Everyone will respond differently to redundancy, but patience and self-awareness will help anyone in this situation:

Be realistic in your goals, self-imposed timelines and shortcomings. Job hunting is unpredictable, requires persistence and you will likely face some knockbacks, but these are not career-defining or a reflection of your potential.

Hold yourself accountable for engaging the market, lessons you may learn along the way and for completing applications and responding to recruiters and application processes.

And be empathetic to yourself and the mental toll redundancy can have, taking time to rest, recover and enjoy a balanced routine outside of your job hunt.

Redundancy is usually looked at in hindsight as a blessing or a challenge that helped you get to where you need to be, but that does not diminish the frustration and challenges redundancy poses. Hiring managers within the industry respect the lack of control skilled professionals have when it comes to redundancy, so by recognising your skill sets and connecting with your network, redundancy should not have a major impact on your career’s journey.

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