How to Explain a Layoff at Every Stage of the Job Search

Margaret Steen

On a resume, you shouldn't say you were laid off, but you should try to account for any substantial amount of time you were out of work. Never try to bridge the gap between two jobs by using the wrong beginning or ending dates. Instead, focus on what you accomplished while you were out of work. Did you take a class? Do consulting work? Work as a volunteer?

On the whole, the less said in writing about a layoff, the better.

"Paper is two-dimensional," says John Haag, a career counselor at the University of Denver Career Center. "Face to face is a whole lot better."

Networking and Interviews. Face-to-face communication is critical, both in informal conversations with people while networking and in formal job interviews. This is where questions about your layoff will likely come up, and you need to be prepared with two answers: one about why you left your job, and one about what you did during the time you were unemployed.

"If it's the first time it happened to you, it's going to feel awful," says Libby Pannwitt, a career counselor and principal of Work Life Design Group in San Carlos, California. "You need to get over it and find the right words to talk about it wherein there were no bad guys."

The best strategy, Pannwitt says, is to craft a very short, matter-of-fact phrase: "I left in the layoff of 2002," for example.

In an informal networking conversation, discuss the layoff only if asked. Haag says the conversation will get off to a bad start if you open with, "I'm looking for work, I've been laid off." Instead, begin by asking intelligent questions and making a good impression on the other person.

"When it does come time for the person to ask you some questions, be forthright," Haag says. And don't use a "half-apologetic tone," he says. By that time you will have impressed your listeners with your interest in their work, and they won't care whether you were laid off.

Finally, be certain you're answering the right question. For example, Pannwitt says, if an interviewer asks "Why do you want to work here," your answer should be about how much you like the company and the job, not that you need work because you were laid off. "That isn't going to make the employer feel very good."

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: