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Notes in an interview

If you’re serious about doing your best in an interview you’re going to have prepared and made some notes. Having those notes to hand in an interview can help to boost your confidence and calm any nerves.

📒 I always remember working with a client who said that all her notes were in a little notebook and she would take it with her into an interview, put it on the desk and when she put her hand on her notebook she would feel a sense of calm and confidence in reminding herself that she had done her preparation.

📒 Some of my clients use flash cards, and the beauty of online interviews is you can have these pinned up around your computer.

📒 I’ve worked with clients who need to take notes in with them to help with working memory challenges.

Whatever the reason to take notes into an interview, just make sure they’re not distracting, and if you think you’ll need to refer to them during the interview then let the interviewer know at the start.

Taking notes into an interview shows the interviewer you’re serious and you’ve done your preparation.

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Being specific in an interview

It’s a fact that not all interviewers are good at interviewing. Some will have had training and chosen to ignore it, others will have forgotten it, and some won’t have had any training and always been bad at it.

If you’re not specific with your answers in an interview, bad interviewers won’t ask the probing questions to really understand what you’re saying and they’ll draw their own conclusions about your capability.

Here are some tips on how to be specific:

✅ Listen to the question so you can give a precise answer, this may not necessarily be the answer you’ve rehearsed

✅ Provide context to your answers: size, scale, timescale, hierarchy etc

✅ Talk about what YOU did

✅ Use ‘I’ not ‘we’

✅ Think about what the interviewer wants to hear – speak their language from the job description and make it easy for them to make the connection with what you’ve done and the problem they want you to solve in their business

✅ Make sure they know the impact of what you did, what difference did it make You can’t legislate for a bad interviewer, but by being specific you can make sure you leave them in no doubt of your capability.

Leaving Stories

By the time we work with individuals with outplacement support many are battered and bruised by their experience of redundancy.  Confidence can be low and many are anxious about an uncertain future.

When we work on helping individuals to process the emotion of redundancy, a fundamental part is the message and rationale they received at the start of the consultation period – this is where the story begins and this is the narrative they carry with them for a long time after they leave.

A leaving story after redundancy is:

  • The narrative an individual carries with them, their truth about what happened – this may be different to the reality and facts of the situation
  • The way in which they talk about their redundancy with others – after almost 10 years I still say ‘when I was made redundant’, even though I know it was my role and not me
  • How they present their redundancy at interview – being able to talk dispassionately about what happened is a key part in preparing for an interview

Having a leaving story is important for a number of reasons as it helps to:

  • Understand those things that were out of their control at the time – a redundancy is something which happens to someone and not because of them
  • Focus on the circumstances and rationale – what were the contributing factors that led to the decision to reduce headcount
  • Build confidence knowing that their redundancy wasn’t their fault – it was their role that was made redundant, they still take with them all their valuable skills and experience
  • Draw a line under their redundancy and look to the future – having a future focus will help with positivity and maintaining a sustainable job search

A leaving story begins long before an individual is made redundant, for many the announcement of proposed redundancies is the first chapter.  No matter how many times you emphasise it’s roles and not individuals that are made redundant it always feels personal.  You can’t legislate for individuals making up their own truth about the situation, which is why a robust rationale and consistent messaging is so important.

When you’re working with leaders preparing the announcement I would encourage you to go into as much detail as possible about the rationale.  The announcement sets the tone for the rest of the consultation period and is an opportunity for leaders to step up and be accountable for having to make tough decisions. 

There is also an opportunity for leaders to show their human side and let the rest of the organisation know how much these decisions mean to them – the whole organisation will be watching.

Here are some things to include in the announcement:

  • What’s the rationale – in detail, not just ‘as a result of Covid-19’
  • What alternatives have you considered before proposing redundancies
  • What have you already done to help protect jobs
  • What else are you continuing / introducing to minimise proposed job losses
  • What’s the business strategy moving forward – short and long term
  • What other measures are in place to limit the number of proposed redundancies
  • What’s the impact of making the proposed redundancies – how does it protect jobs and contribute to the ongoing viability of the business
  • How will your company values inform how the process is handled, what are your guiding principles for the proposed redundancies
  • What can individuals expect in the days and weeks ahead
  • What support will be on offer during the process – signposting people to internal and external sources of support
  • What does this announcement mean to the leadership team – the impact of the announcement, the difficulty of the decision (without going into sympathy)

The announcement by the CEO of AirBnB in May 2020 was notable for the depth he went into about the background, he showed his human side and talked about the guiding principles of his company and how these would inform the process.

Having a clear message is important both legally and morally.  It matters to those who are impacted as well as to those who remain in the organisation.  Everyone wants to know the process is based on a sound rationale that will ultimately mean the business remains viable and protects jobs in the future. 

Those who remain want to know that their friends and colleagues are being treated with respect and dignity and that an organisation is standing by its company values.  A redundancy process is a time of turbulent change for a business and a time in which key talent can often decide to look elsewhere, so the message matters to them too.   We all know it’s a small world and challenging times are when leaders have an opportunity to deliver messages that individuals will carry with them a long time after they leave.

The benefits of a redundancy buddy

One of the benefits of working with a career coach after redundancy is you have an accountability partner, someone who will hold you to account and keep you moving forward with your goals.

Not everyone has access to a career coach and so finding a buddy who could be a work colleague who is also leaving, or someone from your network in a similar situation, will help you to hold each other to account.

Another benefit of a buddy is you have someone to reach out to, someone who understands what you’re going through and can offer support on those days when you don’t feel like facing the world.

In my experience, individuals will more easily let themselves down with their commitments than they will let someone else down, which is why a buddy can make a big difference in the days, weeks or months after redundancy.

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Using LinkedIn to start networking

When you’re looking for your next role, asking for recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn is a great way to begin networking.

Don’t worry too much if your profile needs a bit of work, don’t let that stand in your way of reaching out to colleagues, suppliers, customers past and present. When your profile is looking fabulous it’s another opportunity to get back in touch.

Remember to personalise your message when asking for recommendations – it’s a chance to tell people about your situation.

Once you’ve received the recommendation there’s an opportunity for a follow up message thanking them for their recommendation and continuing with your networking:

“Thank you so for the recommendation I really appreciate it. My role with X comes to an end on Y date and I’d: love to have a virtual coffee sometime / am looking for x roles in the x area / be interested if you could put me in touch with others in your network / love to know if you have any advice …”

Your next message could be sending them an updated copy of your CV.

Asking for endorsements and recommendations not only helps to build your LinkedIn profile, it’s also a great way to get those networking conversations started.

black man remote worker using computer in workplace

Facing redundancy – 8 tips on how to make the most of the consultation period

A redundancy consultation period can be anything from a few days to a few months.  For most people this time goes by in a blur.  Some people will be in denial and keep working right up until their last day, others will disengage and do as little as possible, they feel lost and unable to cope.  For some it will be an opportunity to get started on the practicalities of looking for another job.

The consultation period represents a valuable time.  Focusing on the practicalities such as updating your CV and planning your job search are important, here are some tips on other things you can do to make the most of the time:

Think about your lasting impressions

We’ve all seen recently in American politics about how not to leave a job and those lasting impressions are what people most remember you for.  The consultation period is a time for making your lasting impressions.  A redundancy can make us feel threatened which can lead to a stress response and impact on our emotions.  Thinking about how you respond versus react during the consultation period will ensure you’re remembered for the right reasons.  It can be difficult to remain calm when faced with redundancy, however I know from personal experience that the way we handle ourselves in difficult times is a measure of our strength of character, and other people do notice.  Think about how you want your friends, colleagues and senior leaders to remember you.

Keep an open mind

Depending on your experience and industry you may need to think more widely about your next role.  There could also be internal opportunities on offer that you may not have otherwise considered.  Your role may be at risk of redundancy, however all the skills and experience you’ve gained are still with you and many will be transferrable to other sectors and jobs.  Think about what you enjoy about your job, what do you want to do more or less of, what type of work interests you, what are your strengths and skills.  You may be surprised by how much of this is transferrable to other industries and specialisms.


The consultation period is all about communication so make sure you are persistent in asking questions or making proposals to your line manager or employee representatives.  The company has to ensure a legally compliant process is followed and allowing you to put forward your ideas and ask questions is a crucial part of ‘meaningful consultation’.  Communication is also important for your mental health, talk to trusted friends and colleagues about what you’re going through and seek professional help where necessary.

Mental Health Charity Mind offers free advice and support.

Start networking

When people hear you’re at risk of redundancy they will rally round to offer their support and be keen to do what they can to help, this includes friends, family, current and past work colleagues, customers and suppliers.  Make sure you’re super specific with them about the type of work you’re looking for, ask them all for any connections they may have that they could introduce you to, what recruitment agencies do they recommend, who do they know that might be useful to speak to, do they know of any suitable opportunities?  This is the beginning of your networking.

Ask for feedback

The consultation period is a great opportunity to ask for feedback.  Many people don’t have regular feedback or appraisals, however asking for feedback during the consultation period is another way managers and colleagues can help you.  Feedback will help you to increase your self awareness, build confidence and help you to think about your skills and strengths – all of this may give you an insight into an area of work you’d previously not thought about. 

Reflect on your achievements

Most of us don’t update our CVs unless we have to.  If it’s been a long time since you last updated your CV it can be difficult to remember all the achievements, projects and work you’ve been involved in especially without notes or systems to refer to after you’ve left.  During the consultation period take time to review your previous performance appraisals, look back at your diary for prompts of projects or teams you were involved in, review physical or online to-do lists and notes.  This exercise will also allow you to reflect on the work you enjoyed and what you found challenging, and is an opportunity to start building interview material as well as thinking about what you want from your next role.

Find a buddy

Having someone else who’s in the ‘same boat’ can have a positive impact on your mental health during the consultation period and beyond.  You can share ideas, listen and support each other and act as an accountability partner to ensure you stay focused with your goals.

Review your finances

Unless you’re financially stable, redundancy can result in significant financial challenges.  Do some planning up front, take a look at your financial situation, review your bills and financial commitments and overlay this with your redundancy pay.  What do you need to cut back on, what can you go without, what financial support could you qualify for, can you apply for payment holidays for loans etc, how long can you survive before needing to secure another job, what would you need to do if you don’t secure a job in that time? 

Most consultation periods go by quickly as there’s lots to think about and organise, both personally and professionally.  Combining these tips with the practical steps to help secure your next role will help to manage your lasting impressions and set you up for a sustainable job search.

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Don’t let job titles put you off

Job titles have never really bothered me, my own or those of others.

One of the best job titles I saw was whilst living in North America. My son applied to be a volunteer swim coach at the local pool and was called for an interview by the ‘Director of Aquatics’ – who was essentially the person responsible for organising swimming lessons!

Job titles vary between companies and in my experience are a hugely emotive subject.

I encourage my clients to be open minded about job titles when looking for roles – a ‘Head of’ in one company could be the same as a ‘Manager’ in a larger business or even a ‘Director’ in a smaller business.

What’s important is the scope and impact of the role, does the job description sound interesting, will it give you the opportunity to influence key stakeholders and utilise your skills.

Look beyond the job title and don’t discount roles with job titles more senior or junior sounding than your own.

If your job title is important to you there may be flexibility in negotiating this if they were to make you an offer.

Job titles are relevant, however I’m sure we’d all much rather have a fulfilling job than a fancy title in a job we didn’t enjoy.

person using macbook

Using an email signature when job searching

I like to recommend to my clients to set up a standard email signature when using their personal email address for their job search.

This helps to:

➡️ look professional

➡️ makes it easy for people to quickly find your contact details

➡️ is a reminder you’re taking a professional approach to your job search

Here’s how you can set it up:

Name – you could the add letters of any relevant qualifications i.e. MCIPD

Your job title i.e. Head of HR, or your profession i.e. Finance Professional or the description from the title of your CV i.e. Experienced Project Co-ordinator

Mobile number

Link to your LinkedIn profile

I would recommend having this on every email you send, you can set this up to happen automatically or just cut and paste if you don’t want it appearing on other personal emails you’re sending.

And it goes without saying that you need to have a professional sounding email address too. If your personal email address doesn’t sound professional you can set one up exclusively for your job search.

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Don’t let a lack of interview feedback hold you back

Redundancy knocks self confidence. I hear clients explaining they’ve applied for lots of jobs and when they don’t hear back, in the absence of feedback they assume it’s because they weren’t good enough.

It’s common for us to make up our own stories in the absence of other information, and over time these stories can become our truth.

There can be many reasons why you don’t hear back from prospective employers (none of which are acceptable):

🙁 they’re overwhelmed with applications
🙁 they don’t have rigorous processes in place to deal with feedback
🙁 it’s not their policy to give feedback
🙁 they don’t see feedback as important

NONE of these reasons are a reflection on your ability.

Here are some alternatives to help create another story:

🌈 You can choose how you respond to the absence of feedback – what story do you want to create?
🌈 If these employers don’t value feedback, the chances are they won’t value you either
🌈 The job may not have been the right fit for you
🌈 You are free to give your time and energy to explore other possibilities and find your perfect role

Looking for a job can be tough – I invite you to think about your stories and which of them are true.