How to explain redundancy on your CV, in your cover letter, and during an interview

If you've found yourself in the unfortunate position of being made redundant, you will likely have many questions about how to approach your job hunt, CV, cover letter, and interviews in the best way.

We recognise that this can be an overwhelming time as your future seems uncertain. But let us reassure you, there is no stigma attached to redundancy and employers are rarely sceptical of a candidate who has experienced this.

However, since CVs are a very one-dimensional overview of your professional experience, there are a few post-redundancy CV tips to consider to ensure that prospective employers recognise your valuable skill-set and potential.

What does being made redundant mean?

Redundancy is dismissal from your job because your employer needs to reduce their workforce. There are several reasons an employer may make employees redundant including:

  • The job you were hired for no longer exists

  • New technology has made your job unnecessary

  • There is a need to cut costs and so staff numbers must be reduced

  • The company is closing or moving

Does redundancy affect future employment?

Being made redundant should not affect your job prospects. Redundancies are more common than you think, and employers and hiring managers should understand your current situation. 

However, demonstrating the right attitude towards your future career is essential. While redundancy is an incredibly difficult time, hiring managers will appreciate a candidate who is open about their employment history, whilst maintaining a positive outlook.

Can I get another job while on redundancy notice?

You can get another job while on redundancy notice, but you must ask your current employer to change your finishing date so that you can leave early. The benefit to the employer is that they won't have to pay your wages for as long, so it's in their interest to agree. Your redundancy payment will be unaffected. Always obtain confirmation of date changes in writing.

If your current employer doesn't agree, it may be unwise to leave early. This would count as a resignation and you would not receive your redundancy payment. 

Should I tell prospective employers that I was made redundant?

Whether you should tell a potential employer that you were made redundant depends on a few things. 

Before anything, remember that you must not lie during a job search or hiring process. It's crucial to be open and honest. But also remember that no matter what your circumstance is, you do not need to give the reason for leaving your current employer on your CV or cover letter. However, you may be asked in an interview.

If you've only been out of work a month or so, you don't need to reference your redundancy as it's fairly usual for a worker to take a few weeks off before starting a new position. But if your time out of work is longer than a month, you may wish to reference your career break in a positive way, which we explain how to do below.

The best ways to explain redundancy on your CV

The reasons for your redundancy will heavily influence the wording of your CV. Here are some tips to help you write a CV after redundancy:

Personal statement

The purpose of a personal statement for your CV is to offer the prospective employer a solid overview of you as a professional, diving into who you are, your suitability for the role, the value you can add, and your career goals and aims. 

You can reference your redundancy in your personal statement, but don't dwell on it. For example, in the last line you may write: “Now seeking a new role after being made redundant; available immediately.” 

Use your cover letter for any additional explanation, should you feel it necessary, and keep your personal statement's focus on your strengths and value.

Key skills

Adding a key skills section to your CV is a staple, but it's even more important if you have recently been made redundant. 

Listing your core competencies that are related to the role you're applying for reaffirms to the recruiter that you have the right skill set. This can help to nudge them in the right direction to call you to interview, as what you have to offer is far more important than your reasons for leaving a job.

In addition, if a prospective employer is using an ATS as part of their screening process, you'll need to include skills pertinent to the role to make the cut.

Employment history

On a redundancy CV, approach your employment history in a standard CV format. This includes listing your employment history in reverse chronological order, detailing the employer name, job title, dates of employment, an outline of your role, and key achievements for each position. As always, tailor your experience to the vacancy you're applying for.

That said, there are a few post-redundancy CV tips that can help your work experience to stand out, especially if you have an employment gap

If you've been made redundant from your most recent role and have been out of work for over a month, you should be honest about the gap. In the same format as your previous positions, add “career break” and the dates of the break to your CV. Underneath, add a few bullet points explaining how you have filled that time in a productive way. This may include taking a course, networking, or even running a household. 

By owning the career break and maintaining a positive focus on how you've filled the time, you'll show the recruiter that you have a strong work ethic, a proactive attitude, and are invested in keeping your skills relevant. All of which are desirable traits. 

Education and qualifications

The education and qualifications section is an important addition to your CV, as it enables prospective employers to assess whether you have the right qualifications for the job. Like your employment history, detail your certifications in reverse chronological order.

State the course or qualification name, the academic organisation, school, or university name, the date you obtained the qualification, and the grade(s) achieved.

If you took courses during your career break, don't forget to add them to this section too.

Hobbies and interests

Including a hobbies and interests section on a CV is optional, but it may make a good addition to a redundancy CV. 

Hobbies and interests can be a great demonstration of soft skills. For example, if you're involved in social or community activities, this shows that you likely have strong teamwork and communication abilities. Also, listing hobbies and interests adds insight into your personality and helps the recruiter to get a sense of your character. 

However, if you feel the hobbies and interests won't help you to get the job, or that you wouldn't feel comfortable expanding on them in an interview, it's best to leave them out. 

How to address your redundancy in your cover letter

A cover letter is the optimal place to address and explain your redundancy, rather than in your CV, as you have the real estate. 

You don't need to labour the point. In the second paragraph where you discuss your suitability for the position, add a line or so explaining that you were made redundant, the reason why, and that you are keen to re-enter the workplace and put your valuable skill-set to good use.  

This makes a nice segue into the next paragraph where you can explain what you can do for the company.

How to explain your redundancy in a job interview

Being made redundant was not your fault, so you shouldn't feel awkward about telling the interviewer about your situation. If you're feeling nervous, preparing and practising your response is essential. 

Your redundancy may be brought up via the following questions:

  • Why were you made redundant?

  • Tell me about yourself

  • Walk me through your CV

  • Why are you leaving your current job?

  • Why is there a gap in your employment?

  • When can you start?

As with your CV and cover letter, when answering an interview question, focus on the value that you can bring to the table and what makes you a desirable candidate for the vacancy. Your redundancy might seem like the weight of the earth to you, but it's a minor detail to the prospective employer, so reference it swiftly and focus on the positives and your strengths.

You can bounce back after redundancy and turn this period of your life into a rewarding new chapter in your career. If you aren't sure how to address your redundancy on your CV or cover letter in the best way, our CV writing services can help.

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