Jobs in the Nineties are like holiday romances: sweet but short. We've entered a new 'sack culture' in which 'downsizing' and 'rationalising', 'redundancy workshops' for bosses and 'sack therapy' for employees are the norm. But while the stigma of being forced to 'widen your horizons' has dim inished, the agony remains. Beverly Kemp interviews givers and receivers of the 'bad news', and, below, Esther Oxford offers a five-point guide to surviving in today's leaner, meaner climate
Be in possession of the full facts. Assess employees objectively to determine their worth.

Be clear about your reason for sacking an employee. You can't sack someone for being ill, but you can sack an employee for "absence from work because he or she is ill". You can't dismiss someone for having a bad attitude, but you can dismiss someone for a "performance which indicates bad attitude".

Try not to be too sympathetic. You are entitled to take away a person's job. You are not entitled to take away their dignity.

Keep a file on conversations between you and the person you intend to sack. A casual chat can make for vital evidence at an industrial tribunal or disciplinary hearing.

Avoid giving staff instant dismissal. Employees will pounce if their employers fail to go through the right channels. Failure to implement equal opportunities legislation can also catch you out.

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF 'A BAD JOB'

Do not to rush out and try to find a new job immediately. "Thinking time" is needed to come to terms with the job loss and to compose oneself.

Reassess skills. Identify which skills are transferable.

Think about your previous job. What did you like or dislike about it? The freedom? The salary? Use the opportunity to stop for a moment and think, what do I want to do next?

Learn how to put yourself together as a product. Touch up the CV, practise your interview technique, learn to explore the hidden job market, brush up on your telephone skills, improve your networking skills.

Learn to sell yourself. Be savvy about what you have to do to distinguish yourself in the marketplace. This can mean doing "homework" so you can tailor your talents to specific companies. It can also mean insisting on face-to-face contact. One face is worth 10 CVs.

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