Saturday, December 5, 2009

Should I tell employers about the lay-off?

From a reader:

I read your blog regularly. I have a question for you, would be very thankful if you can answer it.

I lost my job 20 days back, was working for a reputed MNC. Now I want to start looking for a job in Jan. What do I mention in the future interviews? Since I didn’t lose my job because of performance reasons, our whole team was fired due to economical reasons. Is it fair to tell the truth in coming up interviews?

One more concern, is the job market better than what it was in past few months? I am very stressed out with the whole situation, any help would be appreciated.


There are a couple of things that you may want to do in this situation.

First, since you mention the lay-off was due to economical reasons rather than performance, it’s always best to stick to the facts in future interviews. I’m quite sure that prospective employers (recruiters and hiring managers) are aware of the current job market condition and should be able to understand your situation better. It’s a whole lot easier when you tell the truth in interviews. There are two instances I can think when this question might come up. One, when they ask, “Why are you looking for a job change?” Second, at the time of extending a job offer, they’ll first want to call your previous employer(s) as part of the reference check. Any mismatch in information provided by you in either of these instances, will end up hurting your chances even more. In fact, if you stick to the truth, you are in a better position to explain the reason for your job change.

Further, you can highlight that you were part of a larger team that was laid off. That should help the prospective employer understand that you weren’t singled out for the lay off. Don’t get defensive in your interview, that’s a common mistake that I’ve noticed in such interviews. You would do best if you treated this as another interview and highlight your strengths. If there’s a gap in finding the next job, then use that time to refresh your skills and speak about how you utilized that time to the best effect.

Second, you may want to make sure that your ex-employer (manager in particular) will give you a positive reference. Especially now since your performance wasn’t the reason for the lay-off. This post on
asking for a balanced feedback from your references might be helpful.

As for the job market, I do see it improving. There are definitely jobs out. It’s time to contact folks on your social network and let them know you are looking for a job change. Mail me at if you need any more help.

Good luck with your job search!