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.