Finding a job is hard on its own, but when you tack on the stress of finding a job when you've been laid off from a previous one, it's doubly harder. Employers can be weary of candidates who have been laid off, because the reason for the layoff is not always clear. However, being downsized does not mean that an employee is not skilled, dedicated, hard-working and ready to take on another opportunity.
If recruiters and hiring managers refuse to hire laid-off employees, they could be missing out on the perfect fit for the organization, according to Emily Elder, senior practice development manager at outplace services and career transition management company RiseSmart.
"In today's war for talent, organizations cannot afford to overlook qualified candidates who have been laid off. Since layoffs happen for many reasons, such as product mix, company location changes or M&As creating redundancies, those individuals being laid off often have the viable, current skill sets you need and would make excellent additions to your company," Elder said.
Don't miss out
When looking for candidates, it could cost a company if it overlooks those who have been discharged as part of a company downsizing, department shift or other reason.
Laid-off workers already feel bad enough. It makes it worse when they are surrounded by assumptions that they are somehow "less than" because of something that was outside of their control.
"Throw in the unfortunate fact that employers may jump to incorrect conclusions that the candidate was let go for poor performance, and it can cause anxiety and frustration. Employees that were let go must remember that there are many reasons businesses choose to conduct a layoff or restructuring event and that their skills and knowledge will be of use to another organization," said Elder.
Elder added that staying positive is key while waiting for new opportunities, and once you land that interview, be prepared to explain gaps in your resume or why you left the most recent position.
If the interviewer asks why the candidate was laid off, honesty is the best policy. "Candidates will want to answer as honestly and positively as possible, making sure not to criticize their past employer but instead using the time to explain their excitement for the opportunities that are in front of them right now," Elder explained.
What employees can do
Although the decision to hire a laid-off worker ultimately lies with the employer, there are things candidates can do to increase their chances of landing their next long-term position. According to Elder, here are some of the most crucial:
- Don't be discouraged. Make your job search more effective and efficient.
- Above all else, network. Make new connections, and keep current connections updated on your status.
- Ensure your online presence matches your effort – update your social media profiles to remove anything that may seem less than professional and share items that will be attractive to your potential employer.
- Build a list of organizations that you'd love to work for and that need your specific skillset and then reach out to the hiring managers at those companies.
- Prepare to sell yourself – think about the knowledge and skills you have to solve the company's problems.
- Practicing answering the question, "What are you doing now?" so you're not caught off guard and your response is focused on the needs of your target opportunity.
Elder also noted that for every job posting, there are, on average, 250 applicants, so keep applying and networking. Be prepared for your job search to take about six weeks of hard and consistent work before you are presented with a job offer.
The most important thing to understand, and the biggest piece of advice, according to Elder, is there is a difference between employees who have been fired from previous jobs and those who have been laid off due to unforeseen circumstances.
"Keep in mind there are myriad business reasons why companies choose to reshape their workforces," Elder said. "Most of them are not connected to individual employee performance. In fact, reasons, such as overstaffing, a change in business direction, relocation, or expanding in one department and contracting in another, can all play a role in businesses deciding to move forward with a reduction in force."