Being laid-off or having your job eliminated is more common now post-COVID. But, it doesn't make it easier. There may be less stigma around it now, but there will still be a lot of questions in the job search process about what happened and what you want next. Addressing the situation around your departure from the last company is key to landing your next job quickly. Here is what you need to know about building a strong message to address the questions around your lay-off.

Should You Address the Lay-off?

The first question you have to decide on your applications is whether or not to address or even to acknowledge the lay-off. The answer about whether or not to address the lay-off on your resume is a strategy call. There are reasons and times when it makes sense not to address the situation yet. And, there are other times when it makes the most sense to be upfront about the separation. The following breaks down when and why to address the restructuring.

Reasons Not to Address It

There are times when it makes sense not to address the elimination of your job. Here are the reasons not to address the separation on your applications.

  • The end isn't here.  There are times when people get advance notice of their separation. Depending on the timing of your end date, it may not make sense to address the impending lay-off just yet on your resume for another job.
  • You aren't ready. Being laid-off, even when part of a major restructuring, is emotional. If you aren't ready to talk about it, then it makes sense to leave this topic off of your resume for now.
  • You can't share the details. You may have advance notice of a lay-off or restructuring because of your standing in the organization and it may not be public information yet. In that case, you shouldn't share the upcoming transition on your resume.
  • You have time. You may have landed a great severance package and may not have to look just yet. In that case, sit back and enjoy a break. Plan ahead and know when you will start applying as it will take a few months. But, when time is on your side, use the opportunity to explore what you want and to broaden your skills.

Reasons to Address It

There are also plenty of times and reasons to include details about a lay-off on your resume. Here are some of the reasons why you should address it on your resume and early in your application process:

  • Your job is done. You need to update your resume to reflect the end of your last position if it is actually over. Keeping the job current can be perceived as deceptive or a lack of attention to detail. Either way, it won't look good for you in the interviewing process.
  • It's been a while. The longer it has been since you left your last job, the stronger the reason to update and explain what you have done since you left. Recruiters hate to be misled and they will reject you in the screening interview if they see red flags about your last job. Instead, come from a position of power and own the separation.
  • You want to land quickly. If you want to or need to move quickly in your job search, then you need to explain that you are immediately available on your resume and/or cover letter. Being available to start right away can be a strength in the current competitive talent market. So, use this to your advantage and explain that you were laid off and that you can start now.
  • You are ready to talk about it. The best reason to include the details about the restructuring of your last job is that you are ready to talk about it. Once you have moved on from the emotions of being let go, make sure you spin the situation to your advantage. Talking about your lay-off strategically can make a huge difference in the strength of your applications and can make the most of your job search now.

How to Best Message Being Laid-off

The best way to message the fact that you were laid-off is to do it when you are ready to get serious about your job search. Employers understand, especially in the post-COVID economy, that people were let go for a lot of reasons outside of their control. Own your situation and include an explanation of what happened on your resume.

You can do this in a couple of ways. First, as explained above, you need to update the dates of your last job on your resume. You need to show an end date at the company and to change the tense of the verbs so that it reflects the job is in the past. You can also include some details about the lay-off in the explanation of the job.

Second, make sure that all details about the lay-off or restructuring of your job are positive. That can be a tall order in some cases. But, no employer wants to hire someone that talks negatively about their last company or people there. It can be a sign of a bad cultural fit and that you aren't ready to move on. Instead, focus on the details that are relevant. It can be sufficient to say that you were part of an enterprise restructuring or a department-wide lay-off.

Third, make sure that you are honest about the situation. Don't say that you were laid-off from the job if you were fired. Dishonesty in the application process can be reason alone to reject you or to withdraw an offer for employment. And, it is always easier to remember the truth. So, stick with an honest story about what happened and convey that as positively as possible.

Again, employers will understand that you may have been the only person laid-off. And, the fact that you were let go is more common now than ever. The key to a strong resume is to make sure that you focus your message on what you want next. You do need to address the past, but you need to do that only so much as it is relevant to what you want to do next. Building your message towards something while acknowledging your past will go a long way to landing that next job.


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