26

I was working for company A when I submitted a resume to company B last week. Company B just spoke with me and decided to bring me in for an interview next week.

However, company A just laid off 75% of our office, including me. I know company B will ask what I'm currently doing for company A.

Should I come clean that I was just laid off with 75% of the office or since the layoff occurred so recently, that I should play it off and answer as if I were still employed there.

Thanks for your advice.

  • 3
    Yes, you can tell them everything clearly. It is nit your fault. And, may be, they will like your honesty. – user8326 Mar 21 '13 at 7:14
  • 4
    75% is many. They may interview many from company A. How do you know others will not tell B about the lay-off even you say nothing? I don't see any reason you don't want to tell B. – scaaahu Mar 21 '13 at 9:19
  • 2
    @scaaahu "75% is many" Not if the office used to only have four people in it. – David Richerby Jun 13 '16 at 8:54
  • 2
    Just something to consider, I find it's always more positive to say that you were 'made redundant' rather than laid off. Laid off has an implication that it may have been your fault, made redundant implies a situation out of your control. – SGR Jul 25 '16 at 9:23
  • 4
    As far as how to comminicate this, it is very inept to walk in and say "I just want to tell you I was laid off." If you are asked a direct question about your availability, just answer it with "immediately." Contrary to other opinions, you gain nothing for honesty; you only lose for dishonesty. Honesty and professionalism are minimum expectations, but volunteering irrelevant information about your current employment status is a bad tactic – K. Alan Bates Jul 27 '16 at 14:41
24

Let's make this simple.

Pros to Being Unemployed:

  • Company knows you can start immediately
  • Company knows that you will be applying to other jobs (there will be more competition for your services)

Cons to Being Unemployed:

  • Company may try to lowball you on salary assuming you're desperate

Pros to Being Honest:

  • Company may know and not appreciate dishonesty
  • Gives you a chance to frame the layoff in a positive light/redirect the conversation on your terms

Cons to Being Honest:

  • Company may try to lowball you on salary assuming you're desperate

Suggested Course of Action

Assume the company already knows (it's a small world after all). Unless your company is 4 people in a different industry separated by a large geographical distance, there is a good chance they already know about it. Companies laying off 75% of their work force tend to create a blip on the radar (or at least the local news).

Prepare a nice way to broach the subject. If you assume they'll ask you what you're currently doing, just prepare an answer like, "I want to work with you guys on A, B, and C because of my experience with X, Y, and Z. Unfortunately, my current company laid off the majority of my office/business unit including me. This just gives me more incentive to show you how good of a fit I can be for your team."

The wording isn't so important, so long as the main points are:

  1. I am not just applying here because I knew I'd be laid off
  2. My skills are still relevant to your company
  3. Let's discuss how I can fit in here rather than focusing on a job that no longer matters

Personally I'd just get it out of the way ASAP and clear the air. Focus on what's important. Unless the company is malicious, they probably won't lowball you on salary (and would you want to work for a company that did that anyway?).

  • 3
    @RhysW I think jmac meant if you're dishonest, company may know and not appreciate dishonesty. – scaaahu Mar 21 '13 at 9:14
  • @RhysW You're welcome. I used to work at a place where people there like to code negative logic. If A is not true, then we get B which is wrong. Hence A must be true. I still get used to this even after leaving there many years now. – scaaahu Mar 21 '13 at 9:47
  • To expand, the entire sentence fleshed out would be "The Company may already know that you're unemployed and may not appreciate the fact that you aren't being honest about your unemployment." Or, to shorten, what @scaahu said: "if you're dishonest, the company may know and not appreciate dishonesty." I don't speak good sometimes. – jmac Mar 21 '13 at 23:21
  • OP states his location as "Earth", so I would add that in some countries being laid off does not mean you can start working immediately per se. In a lot of cases, the employer will still require you to finish your notice period, which can be 1-3 months (after the lay-off is confirmed) in a lot of countries especially in Europe. – Juha Untinen Dec 14 '15 at 7:17
  • You're omitting a very critical disadvantage to being unemployed. Many employers view being laid-off as red-flag and won't usually hire folks who've been laid off. It almost doesn't matter what the reason for the lay off was. – teego1967 Oct 23 '17 at 11:30
7

Yes. It should not be an issue specially since you have been a victim of a mass-layoff. I would send in an updated CV or just tell them verbally (in case you are talking to them directly anyhow) about the situation.

If not, you are gambling:

  • You tell them: It is unlikely that they will not hire you just because you got laid off right now. You never gave them any wrong information. The fact that you are laid off makes it rather better for them since you can join them without waiting for a notice period etc. I do see hardly any reason why they should not hire you right now for this reason of being laid off.
  • You do not tell them: There is a chance that they hear about the layoffs. If they realize that you did not tell them about it, they might consider you as someone who hides facts for his own advantage. This would be a very strong reason not to hire you.

I would try to turn the situation in your favor and write a note to them in the following tone:

"In the spirit of being open and transparent, and to proactively provide you with the latest development, I would like to inform you that there has been a mass-layoff at my current employer [*] which also affected myself. This means that I would be available for additional interviews from [layoff-date] onwards and also of course to start working for you from the same day on, should you decide to hire me."

[*] You can add the reason here if you think that is public information, such as a merger etc

  • 2
    Is it really their business though if you are laid off? – Wayne Molina Apr 26 '14 at 12:30
1

"Your present employment status," or lack thereof, is really something that an interviewer should have been trained not to ask.   American law is filled with various "anti-discrimination" provisos, and the interview process is the #1 place where charges of discrimination might arise. ("Promotions" are #2.) The interviewer ought not inquire.

You are not obligated to say that you are laid-off, but, at the same time, there is no stigma attached to it, either. I've been laid-off many, many times over these many years.

-2

Do not volunteer this fact.

If they ask, "When are you available to start?", use your discretion. On the one hand, you could say, "Immediately." But I think it would be best to remain calm, and act as if you're still employed and you'll need two weeks past the day of the offer letter. If you receive an offer, you could certainly reveal more, and say something to the effect of, "Things have actually slowed down in the past few days and I may be available even sooner if it would be best for the company."

Note: I'm not necessarily encouraging you to lie. After all, they may ask, "Why are you looking for a new job?" And if they do, you will need to give an answer. At this time, you may say something to the effect of, "My current employer is experiencing financial hardship." And if you eventually do receive an offer, the HR department may ask about your employment history. If they do, then I recommend complete honesty because they can verify these dates with your former employer(s).

But I am advising you to be less than forthcoming about the fact that your employment status changed after you applied for the job. If they know this, then it may compromise your competitive standing. They may (perhaps erroneously) assume that you were laid off because of poor performance. Or they may use this fact to their advantage when negotiating a wage/salary.

So to summarize, if you are asked for dates of employment: Tell the complete, unvarnished truth. But in light of the fact that you were laid off after you applied for this job, I see no reason to volunteer this fact.

  • 2
    Never ever lie, even by omission. That's something so easily checked, and who wants to hire someone that's dishonest? – thursdaysgeek Mar 21 '13 at 19:44
  • 4
    Is it their business to know that he's been laid off? I don't think it is. In fact if you let them know that you've been laid off they might lowball you or not offer you an increase in salary because they figure you're out of work and will take anything. – Wayne Molina Apr 26 '14 at 12:30

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