I need to switch jobs NOW because...reasons.
September 8, 2017 3:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm being laid off in a month. How do I conduct a job search without telling people I'm about to be unemployed?

I work at a digital ad agency, and they're laying me off, but I have about a month to wind down some projects.

And for that one month, I can still say, "I work for So-and-So Agency, but I'm looking for new opportunities, as opposed to "I just got laid off and need a job."

I'm going to start reaching out to friends, former coworkers, recruiters, etc. How do I tell them "Hey, I'm just looking for new opportunities and by the way I need them IMMEDIATELY OMG PLEASE HURRY."?

There are a few friends I can tell the whole truth to, but I don't want to needlessly make myself look like a weaker candidate. How do I handle this?

posted by PlusDistance to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Outside of people you know and trust personally, just don't bring it up. You're looking to take your career in a new direction, you're looking for better work/life balance, you're looking for an opportunity to grow your career, whatever. Why would you mention that you're about to be laid off? A job interview isn't a confessional.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:51 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am sorry to hear that you are being laid off. In case you don't find a job within a month - I temped in an outplacement agency and the advice was always to keep the leaving story brief when or if asked.
posted by Calzephyr at 3:58 PM on September 8, 2017

Just say that you're winding down some projects and planning to leave the company effective (DATE), but that you're looking for a change for A, B, C reasons.
posted by samthemander at 4:09 PM on September 8, 2017

Best answer: I agree that the best approach is to approach it as someone looking to move on to another job for various reasons. A month is definitely a short amount of time to find a job. But as strange as it seems I think it's always easier to find a new job when you already have a job. People will view you as desirable. Not to say you'll be undesirable when you're laid off but I think you understand what I'm saying. Hopefully you will find a job over the next month. And if not, it isn't the end of the world. As far as the part about your question that says "How do I tell them "Hey, I'm just looking for new opportunities and by the way I need them IMMEDIATELY OMG PLEASE HURRY."? Unfortunately you can't really say that. You never wanna come off as desperate. Play the part of the guy who already has a job but if a great offer comes along I'm ready to talk. That's really hard considering your brain is going into defense mode the closer you get to being laid off. But the more confident you can look the better. I think it's perhaps ok to say that you plan to leave your current company if you feel more comfortable than not mentioning it all. But obviously don't say you're being laid off. Spin it to make it look like it's your decision. Or again don't say anything about that all. Good luck...you'll be fine.
posted by ljs30 at 4:16 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, ljs30. I think I worded the question badly, but you caught what I mean. If I say, "hey, just looking around, have you heard about anything?" it could be ignored or just put in the "I'll keep it in mind" file. I wanted to find a way to add urgency without saying I'm being laid off. But I guess there's really no splitting the difference.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:30 PM on September 8, 2017

I think that the key advice here is that you won't become unemployable just by being unemployed. At the moment you have the advantage of being employed, but when your job ends you'll have the advantage of more time to put into your job search. I think it's going to be hard to inject urgency into the requests to normal contacts, although you should absolutely express urgency to the people you trust.

I will always remember a bit from Down and Out in Paris and London
'Do you think I look hungry, mon ami?’

‘You look pale.’

‘Curse it, what can one do on bread and potatoes? It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you. Wait.’

He stopped at a jeweller’s window and smacked his cheeks sharply to bring the blood into them. Then, before the flush had faded, we hurried into the restaurant and introduced ourselves to the patron
This sort of thing feels like a catastrophe when you're going through it. It's horrible. But the best thing to do is keep at it systemically and doggedly, without feeling the need to be unduly open about your situation. It's a one foot in front of the other situation, and it will definitely resolve because you'll keep working on it.
posted by howfar at 5:48 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sentence switchup: it's not you have some time to wind down some projects, it's "some of the projects I'm working on are winding down so now is a good time."
posted by deludingmyself at 6:07 PM on September 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I think all the strategy above makes sense in general, but I want to offer a counterpoint that might work in the right situation, depending on your role:

Digital advertising is a small world, and it's possible that hiring companies will already know some of the circumstances of your current company that's leading them to lay off folks. So a little candor might set you apart from other candidates. For instance, "yeah, work at OldCo is starting to dry up since they lost the GiantCo account. They really made a mistake when they hired Snotty McCreativeDirector. They're going to offshore more production to cut costs, so I figure it's a good time to start looking."

Something like this a) shows them you're not just a cog in the system and understand the workings and politics of the industry, b) makes them feel good about being in a position to hire, and c) gives them the sense that you're a prize to be won from a competitor due to their bad decisions.

Obviously this won't work in every situation, and I think it requires a lot of confidence to pull off, but I think it's worth considering.
posted by condour75 at 7:11 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Condour75 makes an excellent point about industries being small & people often knowing more than your realize. I think you can certainly be candid, but, whatever you do, don't disparage your current employer in any way. That's never a good look for a candidate. If you go this route, couch it in neutral PR-speak & keep it short, "You may have heard through the grapevine that there are some changes at OldCo and it seems like a good time to start looking." If someone starts asking questions or getting gossipy, just deflect by saying as a current employee, you're not at liberty to comment further or you simply aren't privy to that information. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 6:23 AM on September 10, 2017

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