Job hunting after redundancy: advice from career experts – 12 Jul 2007

The panel
Keith Roberts, director, Travel Trade RecruitmentKeith Roberts, director, Travel Trade Recruitment
James Roberts, manager, Progressive PersonnelJames Roberts, manager, Progressive Personnel
John Tolmie, managing director, AA AppointmentsJohn Tolmie, managing director, AA Appointments

News that the Thomas Cook Group is to axe up to 2,800 jobs has left many staff facing difficult decisions about their future.

If they are made redundant, what’s the next step? We’ve asked a panel of career experts to offer advice for three typical scenarios.


The shop manager

She has been working in a city centre branch of Going Places for five years, and is now a shop manager/assistant manager. She has young children who go to nursery and her husband works in the same city.

AA Appointments: She will have good sales and communication skills. Opportunities in high-street retail may be limited, but specialist agencies in long-haul or cruise markets might be viable, as could homeworking.

Moving into tour operations might also be an option, although the chances are she would have to start in reservations.

A move into business travel would be unlikely due to her lack of global distribution system or IATA skills, but training would help.

Relocation is out of the question due to her family commitments.

Travel Trade Recruitment: Her systems experience is likely to be restricted to viewdata. This will limit job options. With so many redundancies likely, there will be a big demand for retail travel jobs in the area.

I would suggest a career change into business travel or tour operations, and recommend a computer reservations systems course to learn a GDS. Look for self-study online courses that earn IATA credits, such as


The senior-level executive

He works in the product department of MyTravel. He has worked in Rochdale for 10 years, working his way up from a junior position. His children are at school in the area. He is the main breadwinner.

Progressive Personnel: Assuming an opportunity is offered at the merged operation in Peterborough, he would need to take into account the implications a move would have for his family.

Equally, as the main earner, salary needs to be taken into account and advice should be sought from a specialist recruitment consultancy as to how realistic it would be to remain in the northwest.

As difficult as redundancy may seem, a positive attitude can really help and it should be seen as an opportunity for a fresh challenge and a chance for him to review his long-term career objectives.

We believe that coaching through redundancy is very important and candidates of all levels should embrace any assistance made available by the Thomas Cook Group.

Travel Trade Recruitment: We would suggest he consider similar roles with other tour operators in the local area – depending on what product he has specialised in.

There are a number of operators in Lancashire and Manchester. It may mean he has to commute a little further than before, but there would be a large influx of skilled candidates in similar positions all competing for the same vacancies.

Would he consider relocating for the right position? This is a huge commitment but can be financially beneficial with salaries tending to be much higher in the south.


The call centre worker

She is based in Birmingham with two years’ experience. No family commitments, but grew up in the area and friends and family still live there.

AA Appointments: Other call centres in the area would be keen to see this candidate, especially if they are dealing in the same areas of travel.

If their previous position involved dealing with flights and working with a major GDS such as Galileo or Sabre then a move into long-haul sales or even business travel could be an option.

However, without IATA or GDS training these options would be harder to achieve.

Homeworking may be an option but it would depend on their exposure to mainstream travel agent business and whether they could generate a client base.

Having no family commitments, this candidate may want to take this opportunity to relocate. 

Progressive Personnel: This candidate needs to assess how much importance they place on being close to their family. Birmingham is home to some great travel businesses, so if they wished to remain in the area I am sure their CV would be of interest to several prospective employers.

But this could be a great opportunity to move to a different part of the business or provide a chance for promotion within the group. I would recommend they seek advice from their manager and HR team at the Birmingham operation.

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