By Beth Colley
When you've lost your job due to a layoff, you need to be prepared to explain what happened -- very carefully.
It's a common fact -- companies increase staff during periods of economic boom, and companies reduce staff to reduce expenses when business is bad.
The largest overhead expense that impacts most companies' bottom lines is employee compensation.
When a business or economic downturn has impacted an organization, reducing the level of staff is the fastest way a company can cut costs and save money.
That choice is often the option selected by corporate management looking for a quick fix. As a solution, it rarely works. When an employer begins laying off staff, they usually end up doing more layoffs later.
Whether you use the term layoff, downsizing, or RIF, the result is the same; you lost your job and were involuntarily separated.
Rather than squirm in your seat while you figure out how to discuss your involuntary separation, think through your answer in advance so you can provide the right response for the situation.
Answering the question, "Why did you leave your last position?" will likely be uncomfortable at best. Preparation is your best strategy.
Follow these simple rules when you answer:
A job interview is NOT a time to share grievances or speak disparagingly against an employer.
When it's time to respond to the "Why did you leave your last job?" question, take a deep breath, be brief, answer the question, and stay positive.
Here are a few ways you can respond to the question:
If you are angry about your layoff, deal with it. Don't let the anger grow -- you will probably have a "bad attitude" that will impact your interactions with employers and recruiters, damaging your chances of landing a new job.
The best thing to do following an involuntary separation is to stay busy by enrolling in a class, networking with business groups, and/or volunteering your time with a local organization while you seek a new job.
These strategies provide a platform for learning and skill building. It's essential to demonstrate personal and professional growth through these experiences and share that during an interview.
You did nothing wrong -- you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time! So don't feel like you have any apologizing to do. But, in the interview process, do ask about the employer's history with layoffs, and, of course, be wary if they have just had a layoff or seem to be in the process of down-sizing.
Beth Colley CEO/owner of Chesapeake Career Management Services has guided over 1,200 job seekers to career success since joining the careers industry in January of 2000. She is a Certified Master Resume Writer, a Certified Career Management Coach, and a Certified Brain Based Success Coach and an active member of Career Directors International, The National Resume Writers Association, and Career Thought Leaders.