Pete Gwilliam: The growing need for support

Pete Gwilliam is director of Virtus Search

It has been pleasing to see that in a number of instances within the mortgage sector, individuals have returned to full-time roles following periods of furlough.

The sector has not seen the widescale redundances announced in other sectors; however, as political, economic and health issues all collide this autumn, even if liquidity remains, a contraction in demand will surely lead to downsizing in the New Year.

Redundancy is an emotionally challenging time for an individual, and no matter how many times you are told that it doesn’t reflect on you and it’s the role that has been redundant, it doesn’t change the fact that you may really need to be earning again reasonably soon. Approaching a job search without a strategy can often feel pretty overwhelming.

Of course, both recruitment firms and job boards may have opportunities to apply directly for roles, but without support this can mean an individual isn’t as well prepared as they might be for a gilt edge opening.

It can then be difficult to know where to start searching for the next opportunity once current live vacancies have been applied for.

For a relatively small investment, though, employers can offer extended support to those who suffer redundancy, through access to an outplacement coach.

Typically, through various mediums, the outplacement programme will build confidence and insight, encourage and inspire. Job searching can create a fair amount of anxiety, and helping someone deal with the emotions of rejection is an important influence on how they feel about the road ahead.

Traditional outplacement programmes concentrated on building a CV and cover letter, and offering interview advice. However, the most progressive outplacement firms now spend as much time on building social media presence, using available contact networks, and advising on how to build a campaign.

Having a clear plan to approach the job market helps turn a job hunt into a more calm, better organised process, focusing on those areas most likely to deliver results.

In a job-short market there are a higher number of applicants than would normally be the case, so every advantage gained is essential.Working with a specialist career coach over a series of meetings can make a significant contribution to optimising skills and experience.

A career coach knows the best strategies to adopt – empowering, skilling and preparing job seekers for their search, whilst also being there to motivate, track progress, and check in to ensure energy is being applied in the right ways

Of course, there is a lot of self-help advice out there, but job seeking in a contracting recruitment market is challenging, and whilst recruiters are naturally a good resource to understand what is happening in the areas they specialise in, there is an inherent challenge that they face: namely how much time can be offered to job seekers who do not meet the criteria for roles they are currently engaged on.

I know first-hand the difference between the time, levels and duration of support that can be offered when it is part of a paid for outplacement programme versus what is possible on an ad hoc basis.

Obviously, redundancies indicate a firm needs to cut costs and there might be a temptation to wish those departing well and signpost them to the government-supported

How an employer chooses to approach redundancies can have a huge impact on how both retained and displaced employees react, and how they feel about the organisation in the long-term.

By providing support, this sends out a positive message to those employees that remain within the company, fostering trust in the workplace.

Outplacement support cannot take away the emotions that will be stirred by redundancy, but it is a positive form of support that helps affected employees move forward with their job search, supporting confidence levels in particular through the highs and lows of applying for jobs.

Mental health and wellbeing is quite rightly a big conversation, particularly now, and I am of the passionate belief that the employer’s responsibility in these areas extends into the period following redundancy, which for some might be the most testing time of their career to date.