Career experts: What to do if facing redundancy

Miriam O’Connor

Successful Resumes Bay of Plenty Branch Principal was interviewed recently for the Bay of Plenty Times. Here’s what she said:

Get help early, process the grief and don’t tie your self-worth to your job.

That’s the advice career experts in the Bay of Plenty are telling those facing redundancy as some organisations report a “very small” increase in people looking for work after getting laid off.

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend has spoken with six professionals in the field about how people can put their best foot forward, take care of their mental health and make decisions on a new career if they have been made redundant.

A careers consultant’s advice on what to do

Successful Resumes Bay of Plenty branch principal Miriam O’Connor said this year she had seen a slight upturn in companies restructuring and “giving people advance notice”.

O’Connor told NZME those at risk of losing their job should prioritise getting their CV ready to apply for new employment.

Miriam O’Connor encouraged people to prioritise updating their CV. Photo / Alex Cairns
Miriam O’Connor encouraged people to prioritise updating their CV. Photo / Alex Cairns


“It is quite important to act sooner rather than later. As soon as you hear the talk of restructuring, get ready.”

O’Connor said people should focus on highlighting their recent achievements in their CV and identify strengths relevant to the roles they are applying for, she said.

CVs should also have a clean layout, be free of errors and easy to read, she said.

O’Connor, who also provided free careers consultation through the Ministry of Social Development, said she worked alongside clients to uncover their interests and skills and put a plan in place when applying for jobs.

“Focus on your key strengths, what your values are and what’s going to be motivating for you. You want to be working in a job that is motivating for you to go every day and make a really good contribution.”

O’Connor’s biggest piece of advice to those facing redundancy was to “talk to people who can help you” and do it early on.

A list of career consultants was available on the Career Development Association of New Zealand website, and people could also visit the website to book free support, she said.

How to take care of your mental health

Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland said being made redundant could have a “really major effect” on people’s mental wellbeing.

“There is the obvious stress of losing your income and everything that flows on from that,” he said.

However, Sutherland said it could also have a “pretty profound” effect on how people view themselves.

Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland is chief executive of workplace psychological and wellbeing service Umbrella.
Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland is chief executive of workplace psychological and wellbeing service Umbrella.


“Often people’s view of who they are as a person is tied up with their job. It can lead to some people having big questions. What is my role? How am I valuable to other people?”

Sutherland is the chief executive of workplace psychological and wellbeing service Umbrella based in Tauranga, Wellington and Auckland.

He encouraged people to ask their employer about professional help, saying some companies would pay for it as part of a redundancy package.

Recognising the big changes that came with leaving a job would also help individuals get through what would likely be a “tough time”, he said.

“The goal is to keep the ship afloat … We don’t expect to get through it unaffected,” he said.

“Acknowledging grief and loss of [leaving] the job, the people, the organisation.

“If you expect it, it’s probably else a little easier to cope when it does come.”

Sutherland said as people applied for new jobs, it could be helpful for them to look for “other ways” to find purpose.

This could include supporting an extended family member, taking on the responsibility of lead caregiver for their children or volunteer work, he said.

“Trying to rediscover your value in other ways while you aren’t in paid employment.

“I appreciate that is a difficult thing to do when you are in a pretty vulnerable situation. It’s not trying to make the bad go away, it’s being realistic that it is a tremendously difficult thing but also not having your eggs in one basket.”

Positive Pathways communication and mindset coach Gail Page.
Positive Pathways communication and mindset coach Gail Page.


Positive Pathways communication and mindset coach Gail Page urged people to remember being made redundant was not a reflection of their self-worth.

“Separate yourself as a person from the actual redundancy. Your job shouldn’t be tied to your self-worth. There is so much more that makes up who you are.”

Like O’Connor, Page said people should “ask for help” as soon as they are notified of their redundancy.

“That will make you feel empowered and in control.”

What support recruiters can provide

Ryan + Alexander Recruitment Agency director Bernadette Ryan-Hopkins said they ran a “one-on-one” programme for peoplemade redundant.

It provided individuals with interview training, CV writing skills and a “whole lot of support” during what could be a “stressful” time, she said.

Ryan-Hopkins said typically this programme was paid for by employers, but they had also delivered it to individuals.

The recruitment agency was starting to see “a very small increase” in people looking for new jobs after being made redundant, she said.

“We are definitely receiving more calls and inquiries from people whose current employment may be feeling more precarious than 12 months ago.”

While Ryan-Hopkins said redundancy was an “extremely difficult life event” for people, it could also force a person to “make change for the better”.

Talent ID Recruitment director Kellie Hamlett.
Talent ID Recruitment director Kellie Hamlett.


Rotorua Talent ID Recruitment director Kellie Hamlett said that generally they were contracted by companies making a number of staff redundant to provide an “outplacement package”.

This supported individuals through the redundancy process to them get “job-ready again”.

Support included interview coaching, CV help and finding potential roles that aligned with their values and financial needs, she said.

“A lot of people panic when they are made redundant but when they drill it down and look at it on paper it often doesn’t look as bad.”

Asked for her advice to those who had been made redundant, Hamlett responded: “Take some time to grieve the situation you have lost.

“This change is forced upon them – and we need to acknowledge that.”

Then it was important to “make a plan and move on with a really positive attitude”, she said.

As of now the recruitment agency had not seen any increase in redundancies, describing the employment scenario as “still very much a candidate-poor market”.

Help from the Government

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) client service delivery group general manager Graham Allpress said: “If you’re facing redundancy we can help you look for a new job, help with income support until you find it, and help you get the training you need for new opportunities.”

Allpress said there was a “wide range” of subsidies and initiatives that supported employers to take on new staff.

“These may also be able to support redeployment within the same business, if another part remains viable, or temporary redeployment to a different employer,” he said.

While they were not the lead agency for mental health support, Allpress said: “If somebody tells us they’re struggling in this area we may be able to connect them to services.”

Those who needed employment support were encouraged to “get in touch so we can discuss what they’re eligible for”, he said.

A range of resources on getting into work and preparing your CV was available on the Work and Income website.