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Redundancy Advice

 

YOU’RE HIRED


Posted 16 Aug 2013

Been made redundant? Here’s how to improve your chances of getting back to work


It’s finally happened. You’ve become a redundancy victim - one of the 2,500 people now being thrown back on to the employment market every day of the year. 


Not surprisingly, it’s a major trauma. But you’re due for an equally profound culture shock when you actually start looking for work - and discover just how dramatically job hunting has changed.


Candidates


Today bosses have never had so many highly qualified candidates scrambling for jobs. And the result? A £200 million UK industry dedicated to helping the 70 per cent of job seekers who now go online looking for work.
No wonder the internet has given the recruitment market its most dramatic shake up for decades. Today personal job search agents will trawl through thousands of online jobs in search of any that may suit you - and email them directly to your inbox.


“The days of having a quick chat with a new boss and starting work a few weeks later are now as remote as the ice age,” says Bristol employment specialist Brenda Gill and the facts bear her out. For instance:

  • At least 50 per cent of companies largely disregard references - and over 30 per cent of employers no longer provide traditional references for fear of litigation.
  • About 75 per cent of recruiters ask for CVs to be submitted online.
  • Psychological assessment centres are increasingly used to recruit personnel.
  • Companies are assigning outplacement counsellors to redundant staff to help them through the job hunting jungle. It’s said to increase their chances of success by at least 30 per cent.

Certainly someone being thrown back onto the job market after being made redundant needs all the help he or she can get. Nowadays job applicants are more likely to face all kinds of bizarre tests, from building a bridge with paper and sticky tape to being filmed sorting out documents in an in tray.
But, say the experts, in the final analysis a face to face interview is still the decider in over 80 per cent of cases. “This remains the most reliable way of narrowing the distance between interviewer and interviewee,” Brenda says.
Which means it’s vital that you make the right first impression - over 75 per cent of companies questioned in a recent CBI survey admitted that the appearance and behaviour of a job applicant invariably decides whether he or she goes onto the shortlist.


Says Brenda: “There seems to be a lot of evidence to confirm that interviewers make up their minds in the first five minutes of the interview and spend the rest of the time justifying their first impression.”


Behavioural experts believe a job interview actually starts before you say a word. From the moment you meet, you will be sending three types of non verbal messages:

  • Gestures - your movements.
  • Signals - fixed things such as height and sex.
  • Adornments - the way you dress.

Says Brenda: “The current behavioural theory is that when you arrive at an interview you shouldn’t immediately sit down even if offered a chair. For instance, when sitting you are at an immediate disadvantage and your diaphragm is in the wrong position, so that your voice will be at a higher pitch than normal. 


“If you do eventually sit down for the interview, make sure you don’t sit bang on face to face - that’s confrontational and won’t encourage dialogue. Put your chair at an angle to the interviewer. That way the conversation will last longer.”


Studies of successful interview candidates show that when walking with a company boss or interviewer you should stand tall and avoid shuffling from foot to foot or fiddling with your hands. Be aware of your body language. Don’t turn your back when someone is speaking to you or get distracted by other people.


Make sure you arrive in good time to get a feel of the place in which you could be working. Be polite and professional with everyone - who knows, the person you pushed past in the lift might be the company’s CEO.


Dress


Studies show that how you look is vital. Dress for success. Potential employers will form an opinion of you that is only seven per cent based on what you say, but 56 per cent based on how you look.
So to be in with the best chance at a job interview find out beforehand how your questioners are likely to be dressed. Look as well turned out as they are, but not overdressed. Colours said to represent efficiency and authority are blue, green and red.


Male facial hair can be a disadvantage. A survey conducted last year found that 60 per cent of business people felt slightly uneasy when dealing with job applicants with beards or excessive sideburns.
Other studies have shown that make up becomes more important for businesswomen as you move further north in the UK. Women in trousers can be at a disadvantage in the north and Midlands, particularly when dealing with job interviewers over 50.


Cultivate what presentation experts call ‘active listening’ - making it obvious you are taking in every word you are being told. It’s vital for the interviewer to know that he’s got your 100 per cent attention and that you want his job.


Take time to understand the question, answer it and stop talking. When it’s your turn to ask questions, make sure you ask one that shows you have carried out research into the company. But don’t mention salary at the first interview.
What you sound like can be as important in an interview as what you say. Speak clearly, but vary your pace and tone. Don’t garble your words or go on automatic pilot. Don’t use jargon. 


Experts believe that in an interview situation certain accents are more acceptable than others. Studies have shown that the Liverpool accent is the least trusted, followed by Birmingham. The Newcastle accent is the most trusted.
Try to get the relationship on a personal basis from the beginning, but don’t be too pushy. Try to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.


Don’t be too clever. A redundant sales manager admits he recently failed a job interview “because the guy decided I was too plausible and had all the right answers.  I found out later that he thought that if I was as good as I appeared to be my previous firm wouldn’t have let me go.”


Remember, too, that whoever is conducting your interview will probably have to see at least six people in one day, so your first few answers are all important. Brenda advises: “Make sure you’ve worked out the answers to the questions you are certain to be asked, so that you’re not taken by surprise.”


Questions


A study involving over 1,000 job applicants conducted by Bradford employment consultants showed that these are the most likely questions a post redundancy candidate will be asked:

  • Why were you made redundant?   
  • Will you tell me about yourself, your background and career?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have you family commitments and are you healthy?   
  • Can you bring any business from your previous clients?
  • How would you describe your most recent job performance?
  • What are your outside interests?
  • What are your ambitions?
  • Have you kept up to date with industry developments?

How will you know all this advice is working and the interview is going well?  “If you’re getting a grilling, chances are you’re being taken seriously,” Brenda says. “What is going through a recruiter’s mind is that he or she will have to justify a recommendation to the boss. The tougher the questions, the better you’re probably doing.”

 
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