In today’s dynamic and volatile job market, layoffs, while devastating, are commonplace. In the eyes of most everyone, being laid off is the same as being fired and people oft times have trouble coping with it. Here are some real-world ideas for how to explain layoffs to potential employers.
When an individual has been laid off but still records the job on a resume, he/she will often have difficulty explaining the reason for leaving that job. Even though lay offs are commonplace today, it is a blow to your ego and those emotions are still right on the surface. If asked why you left that job, you stutter or your face gets red and that employer knows something happened.
So, your goal after being the victim of a layoff is to come up with a plausible and true reason why the company laid you off. The key word in the sentence above is “true.” The next goal is to put that event in its place and realize that while hurtful, it was not personal.
In most cases, when you are laid off from a company it’s related to poor financial condition. Most times, companies have lost revenues over a period of time and find that they must cut back on their workforce to prevent more damage being done. No matter what the reason, the company is no longer able to support their employees and they will start laying people off.
So, the first part of your reasoning could be that the company you were working for was having financial difficulty. Hopefully you were not the only person laid off and you can say, “ABC Company ran into financial difficulties and laid off 8 employees” (or however many it was).
If that is not the case and you were the only person laid off at the time then try to be more generic and say something like, “I got caught in the layoffs of 2020.” This way, you are still telling the truth but letting the employer draw his or her own conclusions from your statement.
Sometimes an employer might ask why you were the one laid off, so you will need to be prepared to answer. Look at your situation before you were laid off and decide what might have caused that employer to pick you. Were you at the highest end of the pay scale for the position? Had you gone as far as you could in the position and started looking for a promotion.
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have additional details you can add to the reason why you were laid off. Now you can start building a statement like, “ABC Company ran into financial difficulties and laid off 8 employees. I was chosen from my department because I had reached the top of my salary grade.”
Be Careful what you say
No matter what you decide to say, always be careful and be sure that you are not slandering a person or company or implying that they broke the law. This falls back to the rule that you should never bad mouth previous employers. Instead, stay detached and explain your reason matter-of-factly and move on to the next subject.
Once you decide on your reason, practice it over and over until your response comes naturally no matter who is asking the question. No matter what, be honest and open and the prospective employer will respect you for it.