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GUEST COMMENT: Three Things NOT to Say When You’ve Been Made Redundant

David N. Schwartz

If you’ve been made redundant in the past few years, you’re luckier than you might have been a decade ago.  The entire financial services industry has gone through several dramatic contractions in that time, and many of the people who will be interviewing you will either have gone through redundancy themselves, or will know many friends and colleagues who have experienced what you are now going through.

Still, it is important to know how to present your circumstance in the best light possible.  Here are three things to avoid saying during interviews – things that may trigger alarm bells, or inadvertently turn the interviewer off.

1. “My firm and I parted company over differences in business strategy/philosophy.”  This is usually palpable nonsense, and recruiters know it.  The main problem with saying this is that no sane person leaves a job over such differences without another job all lined up.

2. “I wanted to take some time off for personal reasons.”  Once again, recruiters will be skeptical.  If people want time off for personal reasons – family illness, for example – many firms would offer a leave of absence.  Most firms would not require someone to resign in order to get some personal time off.

3. “I was a great performer, and was made redundant unfairly.” Recruiters certainly don’t want to hear this.  Most employees feel that a redundancy is unfair, that the firm has not appropriately valued their contribution.   Any prospective new employer will want to know that you are confident and positive about moving forward, not focused on righting any perceived wrongs.  However, if you are filing a suit for wrongful dismissal against your previous employer, you should let your prospective new employer know about this – they’re bound to find out anyway.  A new employer will be concerned about how much time litigation would take away from your focus on a new job.  There will also be concerns about whether you are litigious by nature, or whether an injustice has really been committed.

The best advice in the case of a redundancy is to be honest with prospective new employers.  Tell them what happened, and persuade them that you are putting the disappointment of redundancy behind you and looking positively toward a new job with another firm.  Employers have ways of finding out the truth anyway, and it’s best to be honest, and remain positive.

David Schwartz is CEO at search firm DN Schwarz & Co. He is a former director of recruitment at Goldman Sachs. 

Comments (8)

  1. What to say if I left voluntarily because of differences over strategy and was fed up with my boss who paid me a ridiculous salary? I am sure there are hundreds of such bankers. Are they supposed to tell lies just because it is more plausible than the ugly facts?

  2. Pingback: GUEST COMMENT: Three Things NOT to Say When You’ve Been Made Redundant - The Wall Street Job Report | The Wall Street Job Report

  3. Not to say a redundancy is unfair is a bit pre-Lehmans. Honesty is the key, if a person was made redundant because senior management’s strategy didn’t work or because of wider economic circumstances, there should be no problem saying that. Likewise, if someone was made redundant because the metrics used (if any) didn’t pick up that person’s contributions adequately or because their manager didn’t like them its fine to mention that in a factual yet diplomatic way. There needs to be more honesty about these kind of things nowadays.

  4. I think a lot of people would have trouble believing that you left voluntarily, even if the pay was poor. There are a lot of people in good companies being asked to take pay cuts to keep their jobs and many being made redundant. A lot of people may never find another position in the financial sector. Employers want to know you will keep your head down and do the job, without being too much of a diva

    Is that really honest Reply
  5. Honesty has got to be the best policy. If someone left voluntarily, then say so. If the redundancy was unfair, say so. A good employer will respect someone who isn’t afraid to express a point of view.

    People keeping their heads down and doing the job is to a large extent what got us into the mess we’re in.

  6. What got us into this mess was people doing a job where they didn’t understand the complexity of the products. Which is why showing you are driven in your career, for example by investing your time and money in professional qualifications when you are out of the market increases your marketability and career options.

    Many jobs are not ideal, but it is a tough market and you have to be realistic about your prospects of finding somewhere better.

    Is that really honest Reply
  7. Or maybe the people doing the job understood the products but the people buying them didn’t.

    Professional qualifications are an excellent idea, so is learning a language or anything which increases marketability.

    And taking a job which isn’t ideal could be unavoidable or even desirable in the current market.

    But none of that means one should be afraid to be honest at job interviews.

  8. I just said, “Hey, I was an SVP at the smaller of the two merged companies. No hard feelings.”

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