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All things Pharma

Life after redundancy: turning adversity into opportunity

Fast moving, competitive and exciting, the pharmaceutical industry is awash with innovation and developments.Yet this unremitting tide can also bring with it some unwelcome changes. Pf’s Career Insights columnist, Lucy Randle of STAR Medical, looks at what to consider if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of redundancy.

There has recently been an abundance of redundancies in the UK pharmaceutical industry. Mergers, restructures, out-sourcing, pricing pressures, pipeline challenges and increased costs are the start of a long list of reasons behind this. Redundancy can leave a residue of ill feeling and a sense of failure, but it needn’t be this way.

“Redundancy is no longer likely to affect your employability. Managers may well have been through it themselves and understand that it is now an occupational hazard rather than, necessarily, a consequence of poor performance.”

Though the proliferation of redundancies has brought with it a sense of unrest and a certain amount of distrust, the ubiquity has fostered a more sympathetic, less suspicious approach to those who fall victim to it. Redundancy is no longer likely to affect your employability. Managers may well have been through it themselves and understand that it is now an occupational hazard rather than, necessarily, a consequence of poor performance.

The warning signs

For some, redundancy comes as a bolt from the blue but, for many, there are early warning signs.

Mergers, acquisitions and consolidations are all likely to involve an assessment of the company structure and the identification of duplicated roles. If you are not the only person doing your job, or if parts of what you do are becoming progressively less business-critical, you may find yourself at risk. Bear in mind that it costs an average of around £100,000 to keep a representative on the road for a year. If you are not making more than you are costing and your company’s profits are down, it doesn’t take a genius to calculate that you may be in danger of redundancy.

If you are officially informed that there may be cuts on the horizon, there probably will be. If you have noticed a deluge of resignations, there may be a reason why. Try not to panic; if you are happy where you are, don’t let the impulsive, pre-emptive actions of others lure you into a reactive decision! However, if you feel ready for career progression, it may be worth taking a provisional look at what else is on offer.The threat of redundancy may be the catalyst you didn’t know you were waiting for to surpass yourself!

Stay connected

It might be easier said than done, but try to keep things in perspective if you are made redundant. Don’t take it personally: your company is likely to be as reluctant to let you go as you are to leave.This is a difficult time for everybody and you will have colleagues in the same boat.

Talk to them and encourage one another; ironically this can be a great opportunity to forge new and lasting friendships. Stay connected to your colleagues, you may be able to help each other out later on.

You may also have close links with customers and associates who have inside knowledge of opportunities for which they are willing to recommend you.

Importantly, they may also offer an encouraging word or compliment at a time when you are vulnerable to self-doubt and insecurities. Many pharmaceutical companies have programs in place to support employees who have been made redundant. Seek out the advice of your HR department, as some offer outplacement services.

Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for advice; between your HR department and a good recruitment consultancy you should find the guidance that you need to make apt decisions and find the right job.

Moving on

In the search for a new job people often underestimate the importance of a well-written CV.

Think of it as a detail-aid or advertisement.Your CV needs to be a unique document, highlighting your personal achievements and selling you to prospective employers. Alter it for each role you apply for – it needs to target the job you want, not the job you have been doing.Your recruitment consultant should offer advice on how to create the best CV but some general points to remember are: don’t describe the role you’ve been doing (the recipient will have an extensive knowledge of industry roles), instead describe what you have achieved during the role; include bullet-point specific sales results and achievements for every role; the CV should not be excessive in length but don’t be afraid to go over two pages if you need to.

Select carefully which recruitment consultancies to work with. Look for a consultant who is willing to take the time to get to know you and understand what you are looking for. Expect them to help you every step of the way – from application, to interview to salary negotiations. Search for roles on the internet and in industry magazines and tell your consultant about those that appeal; they may have additional knowledge about the role or close contacts in the organisation in question.

Taking time out

Prospective employers will understand if you take a few weeks off to relax or travel between the end of one role and the beginning of the next. However, extended periods out of the industry will lead them to question your commitment or appeal, or both.

You may have little choice, jobs could be few and far between, but, if this is the case, try to find a way to use the time effectively – be prepared to tell an interviewer how you spent the time constructively, for example, renovating your house or learning a new skill.The last thing you want to conjure up is an image of you sloping around in a dressing gown, watching daytime television! Remember, this could be the perfect time to add value to yourself – you could explore the possibility of updating skills, further training or even retraining.

Your rights

Before leaving your job, check that you are not owed any bonus or expenses and that you have taken the annual leave you are entitled to. Sometimes, if they become surplus to the company’s requirements, it is possible to keep, or purchase at a favourable-rate, your company car, laptop or phone.

Make sure you plan your finances sensibly, you may receive a large bulk sum but account for the fact that, in a worst case scenario, this might have to last you several months.You may be entitled to non-means tested Jobseeker’s Allowance for the first 6 months of unemployment.To be entitled to statutory redundancy pay, you must have worked for your company for two continuous years.The amount depends on age and is between one and one and a half weeks pay for every year with the company. A lot of companies, however, have their own, more generous, contractual redundancy packages.You are entitled to be paid for reasonable time taken off to look for a new job.

If a suitable alternative role within the organisation is available, your employer is obliged to consider your application for it. If you think you have been unfairly dismissed you have three months to apply for a tribunal.To find out more go to ‘Employment Matters’ on the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform website – www.berr.gov.uk. Try to remember that redundancy is not the end of the world and that with positive thinking and good advice you can turn adversity into opportunity.

The STAR Medical team is ready and willing to receive your call and happy to offer guidance on any of the issues raised in this article. Up-to-the-minute vacancies can be found at www.starmedical.co.uk.
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