Telling prospective employers you've been laid off
January 23, 2015 11:53 AM   Subscribe

I just got laid off. I was already having early discussions with some prospective employers, so now I'm not sure what to tell them, if anything.

To maybe complicate things further, I convinced the CEO to give me a title change on the way out. It's a title that's more on the same level as the jobs I'm applying for.

Before it happened, I'd applied to two different jobs. I've had positive phone screenings with both of them, but no formal interview yet.

So my questions are:
1. Should I tell them that I'm leaving?
2. And if so, should I tell them why?
3. Should I send them an updated resume with my new title?
4. And if so, should it have an end date on it?

Without getting too specific, almost half of the staff got laid off, so it won't be a secret in the world I'm working in for very long. That said, one of the jobs is a little further away from the circles in which people will be gossipping about this.

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Hey, I wanted to let you know that there was just a major layoff, so my availability is now wide open!"

You can change your title on your resume but I think going back and telling anyone you got a title change on the way out is going to come off weird. Unless you think one of them might turn you down just because you didn't have the new title. But if you wanted to send them a new one, with updated dates and the new title with no comment, as part of your excuse for contacting them and letting them know, that's fine.

A layoff is great news to a potential employer. Any foot-dragging you might have done about start date immediately evaporates. Hopefully it hasn't flooded the job market with competitors for those positions.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:57 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

A layoff is great news to a potential employer. Any foot-dragging you might have done about start date immediately evaporates. Hopefully it hasn't flooded the job market with competitors for those positions.

Which is one reason you may not want to tell them. Your salary negotiating position is much weaker if you are over a barrel.
posted by srboisvert at 12:24 PM on January 23, 2015 [12 favorites]

The only reason to tell a prospective employer that you got laid off is to assure them that you can start work immediately. Don't bother updating them until they recontact you, and even then, unless it comes up. Your resume isn't a job application. When you fill out the application (and you will if there's an offer,) then update with an end date.

Don't bother with the title change with folks you've already interviewed with since it changes nothing about what you've discussed already or about the skill set you're selling them. Put it on your resume when applying for other jobs. Also apply for LOTS of new jobs.

I'm out of work and I apply for everything I can every day of the week. I'm currently interviewing with 4 companies. Hedge your bets when you can. Don't wait for companies A or B to come to you with an answer before applying for C, D and E.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:29 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

No need to mention it until you get an offer, then you can let them know you are available very soon.
posted by rpfields at 12:38 PM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

Yeah I would not tell them "I was laid off!" as such. "Laid off" is frequently a euphemism for "was fired" so unless the layoffs were big enough to be widely-known within your industry/sector I wouldn't mention it unless it comes up very specifically.

But you can say that you are available to start on short notice. That doesn't trip quite as many red flags.

You are definitely putting yourself over a barrel in terms of negotiating if you let on that you are unemployed, though. Even my not especially aggressive, not really hard-dealing previous employers would totally take that as an invitation to lowball someone salary-wise since there is not the sense that you have to lure them away from an existing employer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:15 PM on January 23, 2015

DADT applies here.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:30 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

I was laid off in the summer, and found a job in the fall. Being laid off is not a red flag to those looking to hire, especially if they know it was a non-personal mass layoff.

You just have to manage your desperation when job-hunting.

You probably shouldn't send a new "laid off" resume to companies you're already in contact with - just makes you seem desperate. If you get another interview with them, you can bring in a new revised resume with new title and dates, but please also revise some other stuff on it to be further tailored to the job. Otherwise they're not learning anything new from it, other than you were laid off.
posted by lizbunny at 1:33 PM on January 23, 2015

1. No
2. No
3. No
4. No

I was in a similar situation at one point. Never brought it up, got the job offer.

Generally speaking when it comes to employers, do not disclose information that you are not required to disclose. Obviously don't lie - if the layoffs were big news and they're like "hey were you laid off", go ahead and tell them - but do not bring it up until you have the offer in hand and they ask when you can start, and you say "Well, good timing actually..."

While of course people who've been laid off do find jobs, it is statistically true that it is much easier for employed people to find jobs. There is no reason to announce the fact that you've joined the unemployed camp. I promise you the title's not worth it.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:32 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah: no, no, no, no.

A couple of times, I've hired someone who left their then-employer while the hiring process was playing out. I became aware of it naturally during the process -- like, I'd ask something about their current position and they'd explain that they had recently left, or were about to leave. I think once it came up as we were preparing the offer letter, in a conversation about start date.

I've never had someone proactively disclose, and if they did I'd find it a little weird. It's certainly not ethically required. Your resume was accurate when you submitted it, and the fact you've been laid off isn't information that's critical to the decision-making process. OTOH, telling would definitely weaken your bargaining position, and that's why it would be a surprising thing to do.

So. Don't proactively disclose. Definitely don't lie. If it comes up naturally, just say it then.
posted by Susan PG at 3:53 PM on January 23, 2015

Nthing - don't bother updating them. Update your resume and send it out for different jobs, but not the ones you are already having conversations about.

If and when you get another interview, and if and when they ask about your current employment status, you can tell them then.

In general, I would frame it not as "I got laid off" but "As you may know, Acme Muskrats recently laid off 50% of its staff - I was among them."

Once they know you aren't currently employed they won't lose interest but they may not feel they need to make a super-competitive offer to lure you away from your current employer. Don't worry about it too much, don't hide your situation and don't lead with it.
posted by bunderful at 3:54 PM on January 23, 2015

No, do not go out of your way to tell them. You are more desirable if you have a job and it will also look a bit red-flaggy. The info you had at the time you applied is the info that was good enough for them to call you. Go through the interview process and if it comes up and you do have to mention it, do so and frame it as a company-wide thing. But do not find ways to disclose it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:31 PM on January 23, 2015

I agree with the general consensus but just want to add that I prefer the "company went through with a reduction in force" to "company had major lay off".
posted by MyMind at 12:59 AM on January 24, 2015

Definitely do not tell them you were laid off, unless they specifically ask. If they ask why you want to leave your current position (which they probably will), then I would tell them 1) your original reason for leaving and 2) that you happened to be laid off after you applied for this job.

Do not send an updated resume - no point... and nobody cares about the titles... I am currently interviewing candidates for a job and more than one person had a resume that said they are still employed, then explained that they were laid off when they came for an in-person interview. I did not ding them at all. Layoffs happen to everybody and I've been in the exact same position.
posted by karakumy at 9:38 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

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