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."
"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.