In desperation, I contacted the last company that had seemed keen to employ me and asked why they hadn't. They admitted that I'd had terrible references from my previous boss. As far as I know I'd always done a satisfactory job in my previous role and I got on with my boss, so I can't understand why this is happening. Should I contact him to find out what's going on?
You don't tell me what reasons you were given for being made redundant, but I assume you were told that it was nothing to do with your competence but all to do with the economy and the order-book and other external factors beyond anyone's control. The trouble is, people need to justify why it was necessary to make someone redundant. When they're later asked for a reference, they find it difficult to say: 'We all thought Nigel's contribution was exceptional in every respect, which is why I made him redundant' - so they allow the enquirer to infer some serious deficiency.
You say you got on well with your boss. So, yes, I think you should buy him a drink and let him know as unreproachfully as possible the damage he's doing to your prospects.
Please address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: Management Today, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP. Or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into