Careers advice

Should I mention redundancy on my CV and cover letter?

Here’s how to get this right.

Today, we’re going to address one of the most common concerns Kiwis have about applying for jobs after a redundancy – mentioning it on a CV or cover letter. Should you and, if so, how? Here are your answers:

Should I mention redundancy on a CV?

In a word, no.

Why? Because this isn’t what CVs are about. One of the most common mistakes you can make when creating your CV is trying to include every detail of your work history. In reality, a CV should be an elevator pitch of your key skills and experience, and nothing else. There’s no need to include any details on why you left previous positions, including when it was due to a redundancy.

You’re not being dishonest by not providing this info – ultimately, it’s just irrelevant to recruiters and hiring managers at this stage.

How do you explain redundancy in a cover letter?

It’s good practice in cover letters to tell the reader why the job ad stood out to you, and why you’re applying. However, this does not mean you should talk about redundancy as a motivating factor.

In fact, we’d actively advise against it.

Why? Recruiters and hiring managers want to hear from candidates who are excited about their opportunity, so keep your reasons for applying positive. If you mention redundancy, this could make them think you’re applying because you feel you have to, not because you want to.

Will you ever need to talk about redundancy when applying for jobs?

Yes, one of the common questions job interviewers ask is, “why did you leave/are you leaving your old/current job?”.

We’ve got some detailed guidance on how to handle this question, but in brief:

  • Be honest: you can’t be legally made redundant for poor performance, so good hiring managers or recruiters will know your redundancy was nothing to do with how good you were at your job. Also, if you lie and they find out, this won’t look good.
  • Don’t get defensive: in asking this question, interviewers just want to know there wasn’t anything else going on – for example, that you weren’t fired.
  • Show how you bounced back: showing you can deal with setbacks is an attractive quality in candidates, and can actually boost your chances.